Sunday 23 Oct 2016

Radio Formats
Matt Seinberg

When I was growing up, listening to the radio, the predominant station, in New York City, was WABC-AM, Musicradio 77. The DJs were the best of the best, always on top of their game and their leader was the late Rick Sklar. The DJ line-up included Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy, Dan Ingram, Bruce Morrow, George Michael, Chuck Leonard, Frank Kingston Smith, Jay Reynolds, Johnny Donovan, Bob Cruz and Steve O'Brien.

We all tried to call the station at one time or another, wanting to request a song, or just to talk to one of the voices we listened to on the radio, and make a connection with them. They were usually too busy to have that long drawn out conversation we wanted to have, but that was okay. They had a job to do.

Rick Sklar made Music Radio work.

WABC-AM was the top, Top 40 in the nation of the era of radio I call Classic from 1968-1980. The DJs, the jingles, the music all were part of a formula. The late Rick Sklar brewed the formula. Imitated, but never duplicated, even by sister stations in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco, The WABC-AM ruled.

Usually, Todd Storz gets credit for inventing Top 40 radio, but Rick Sklar perfected it.

Sklar wouldn't recognize the radio landscape today, as formats are so broken up into niches. Top 40 no longer exists. Today, the Top 40 Format Sklar perfected is Contemporary Hit Radio or CHR for short, which it is on imagination and talent. Even in the CHR designation, there are different sub formats.

There's Rhythmic CHR, which can include old school R&B, hip-hop, Motown, and soul. Then there's Dance, which is self-explanatory, and Urban, which will include more contemporary rap and hip-hop along with other CHR hits.

Adult Contemporary, a bland radio format, is even more fragmented.

The Adult Contemporary (AC) format is even more fragmented. Traditional AC stations will not play rap, hip-hop or old school R&B. The first AC station developed by was the former WYNY-FM programme director (PD), Pete Salant; he was the first PD to implement the format. AC stations play mainstream hits and former hits, that aren't too loud or obnoxious; Neil Young is a favourite artist.

Hot AC will include more CHR artists and the DJs, what's left of them, will have a more upbeat approach in their presentation.

Urban AC will airs "ethnic" artists; these stations tend to be more successful in larger cities, where the popular diverse. A new format called "BOOM" is the latest format de jour; it includes hip-hop and more old-school-R&B. “BOOM” kind of takes off where the "MOVIN'" format left off.

One AC format, almost forgotten, is the truly "light" presentation. When WLTW-FM came on around 1984, it, in fact, was "Lite FM." The station only played softer contemporary music, what, back then, was "Middle of The Road" or "MOR." Over the years, they evolved to what they are now, an AC presentation.

Several stations represent the soft AC format. These three large market stations are enjoying high ratings with Soft AC formats are WDUV-FM Tampa, KIFM-FM San Diego and WFEZ-FM Miami. These stations are almost a throwback to the original Lite F, and Y97, in New York.

Is Soft AC a format that appeals to everyone, certainly not to anyone in the 12-to-34 age group? At my advanced age, I'd appreciate hearing some "softer music" during the course of the day, when I'm feeling rushed or stressed out. On my way home from work, I stream Soft Jazz non-vocals from the Samsung Milk Music streaming service. If that Soft AC existed in New York, I'd certainly try it.

After my 54th birthday, adveristers didn't want me money anymore. Why?

Why is it that advertiser want a young demographic? They don't have the disposable income that comes with age and experience. Why don’t those advertisers want my money?

I'm disgusted with radio today, as I've stated in the past. There isn't much personality left on radio, many fewer women and men live, in the studio, on the air, connecting with other women and men. The bean counters and vampires have pretty much killed personality radio.

Don't get me started on that again.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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