Archive for the ‘The Music of Radio’ Category

A few ratings tidbits

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

For the most part, I ignore radio ratings from month to month as I don’t trust them and think Arbitron (now Nielsen) bears a significant part of the responsibility of the decline of radio, getting people in radio chasing the wrong metrics.

This is only day two and two large surprises.  In Washington DC, the venerable and highly profitable WTOP AM/FM wound up in a tie for #1 with the rising star WAMU-FM, the NPR affiliate operated by American University.  Loosely speaking, American University is the service academy for the US State Department, like the US Naval Academy for the Navy.  If you have dreamed all your life of working at the US embassy in Lithuania, you probably went to American University.   WAMU produces a few syndicated shows for other public radio stations, the most important one being the Diane Rehm show.  The election undoubtedly is the reason for this one – a lot of people living the good life in Washington DC might be moving back to Kansas if Donald Trump is elected.

The other one is pretty stunning and since radio managers are lemmings, you’ll probably see this show up in your city.  WMGC-FM is located in Detroit – it has a pretty unique history.  During the heyday of the Motor City, it was a commercial radio station (WQRS) playing Classical Music.   It operated out of Wayne State University and had tight relations with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  My guess is it was a favorite of GM executives driving their Cadillacs down Woodward Avenue to work.  The transmitter is located in Royal Oak Charter Township, just North of the 8 mile line of death that is the wall between The City and Suburbia.  The signal is solid over to Ann Arbor to the west, a big part of Western Ontario, and North almost to Flint, and all of Detroit City.

With the deregulation of radio in 1996, the station went into play being bought and sold, briefly owned by Clear Channel, but had to be divested and wound up in the waiting arms of Greater Media (the Boston based company that owns WBT-AM in Charlotte and is being acquired by Beasley).

Greater Media got the station in 1997 and thrashed around ever since, struggling to find a niche in a rapidly declining city that is racially polarized – with “Detroit City” choosing (until recently) to make white people feel very unwelcome and white “suburbanites” happy if the entire city just slid into the Detroit River (except for the sports teams).  Initially, WMGC  tried Alternative Rock.  After two years, the station became WGRV “The Groove” playing jammin’ oldies (Motown?).  In 2001, the station became “magic” WMGC, playing Adult Contemporary music.

One of the largest flaws in Arbitron is that all listeners are not created equal.  Ratings give you counts, but ultimately advertisers care whether the listeners have the money and desire to buy their product.   A person living on public assistance in the city has buying habits very different than the children of GM executives living in West Bloomfield.

In 2012, the station switched to Soft Rock, trying to cling to its suburban listeners who can’t get enough Elton John and Barry Manilow.  That lasted a year until the station veered off into being an ESPN affiliate.  At the end in June, the station had a 0.7 rating.  July 1st 2016, the station became “The Bounce”, playing Classic Hip Hop, a format that didn’t exist three years ago.  For August, the station finished #1 with an 8.0 share.


Radio Uber

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

So when people ride using Uber, what happens with the “radio”? What are the rules?

For about the past 3 years, I don’t even turn on the radio in my own car, so when riding Uber, asking the driver to do anything with the “radio” is unlikely, although I did think about the subject.

Drivers are rated by the passenger, and a high rating is necessary to remain as an active driver. Fighting over the “radio” is a potential hornet’s nest. I remember reading a post about a guy thumbs downing his driver because the rider wanted to listen to Spotify and the driver was not a subscriber.

Pandora just announced a deal with Uber to allow the rider to control the radio using the app. Pandora creates playlists that are specific to you, so the app will play “your” music through the car stereo.

If I were a driver, I’m pretty sure I would not like this. I can imagine picking up a fare who turns on gangsta rap and hearing “I’m gonna fuck you up, bitch” blaring at me. Your cell phone is just fine 😉 Drivers also rate riders, although I haven’t sought that out.

Uber rides tend to be relatively short – I doubt many people use uber to commute, other than maybe in San Francisco.

So if you ran uber, what woukd the rules be?

Chocolate Jazz

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

So if you missed the Jammin’ Pig Concert, you have another chance for Ribs and Jazz in Nashville on July 25th.  I spotted this event on the Fisk University student radio web site.

One of the recent “polls” asked how important it is to you that musicians on stage actually are playing their instruments and not lip syncing. Creating music in a studio and on stage are very different skill sets.

After looking at the video, present your argument whether the four musicians were ever in the same room together at the same time. I will state as a fact that the keyboard guy is really playing the music you are hearing from the red keyboard (albeit maybe edited later using MIDI). The Fisk audience might be a little uncomfortable with a live performance.

The bail bond advertisement seems a bit inappropriate, but maybe that is over sensitive.

Part two if you enjoyed the first one. Put your hands together for this live performance

Apple Juice

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Next month, people “in the know” say that Apple will be launching a new music streaming service to compete with Pandora and Spotify.

The iTunes “buy and download a track at a time” model totally disrupted the buy a physical album business model, and gathered enough critical mass so Apple could tell the record labels what the new rules were going to be.

Then Pandora, Spotify and others undermined Apple with the “buffet” model of paying a monthly fee and eating as much as you want, but not buying any long term right to listen to the music for free.

If I were king, I would organize a year long boycott of all music, demanding a serious gutting of the copyright law on music. If tomorrow was really #thedaythemusicdied and there was no music anywhere, what would the world do? Probably climb electric poles and adjust the insulators by hand.

The lost decade

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

The years 2000-2009 have an identity problem. In addition to having a lot of unpleasant history, nobody can figure out what to call the decade. The Zeros? The Naughts?

Variety music likes to group music by the decades – the most popular being “80s, 90s and Today”. Well, the 90s are 15 years old, and music from 2001 isn’t exactly “today”. Music from the 10s doesn’t exactly sound very catchy either.