Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO BE YOUNG

LARP (Los Angeles Radio People), not to be confused with AARP, is one of my favorite sites on the web. Written by radio historian Don Barrett (www.LaRadio.com), it’s a must-read for present and past radio professionals who want to keep up to date on what is going on in their industry.

One of the services of subscription-only LARP is the eagerly awaited release of the Arbitron Radio Ratings. To be number one, even by one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of your closest rival, is reason for great celebration and on-the-air crowing.

My focus whenever I peruse each rating result centers obviously on the oldies station category. I am always disappointed that my local LA oldies station just can’t seem to rise above 15th place in the overall ratings, or as Don Barrett so aptly put it, “has stayed largely status quo so far” despite programming changes. No matter what they have done in the recent past to boost their ratings, they can’t seem to break into the coveted top 10.

Why do I care? I worry about the station possibly going out of the “oldies” business altogether. Recently Los Angeles’s one and only country music station went off the air. Can you believe it? 10,000,000 people in LA and NOT ONE COUNTRY MUSIC STATION?

Could “Oldies” be next?

It’s obvious that something drastic must be done to keep stuff like this from happening to our premier oldies station. So, in order to prevent such a catastrophic and malefical event from ever occurring, I am offering my services as a non-paid oldies radio consultant. I opt to be “non-paid” because the solution is just too, too obvious.

Here is my solution:

(FANFARE or DRUM ROLL)

NEVER … EVER … use the word OLDIES again!!!!

I told you it was obvious.

One comment that was going around about LA’s top oldies station before they decided to change its program line-up, was that the station was beginning to sound OLD. Are you kidding me? How can you not sound old, if you keep calling yourself an “Oldies station?”

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “Middle age is a non-specific state in life when one is neither young nor old, but somewhere in between. Middle age is between 40 and 65.”

What intelligent 45 year old hip, and up and coming person would ever admit in a radio ratings diary that their favorite radio station plays oldies? Most 45 year olds won’t even admit that they are 45! Let alone use the word “Old” in any form when referring to themselves.

The 60s was a big time young and happening event anyway you look at it. The Beatles? Old? The Beach Boys? Old? The Rolling Stones? What is the oldies radio station trying to tell their audience? That 60s music is only for the old. No one was old in the 60s and they still aren’t today. The Baby Boomers will never grow old.

There is a huge, even newer and younger audience waiting out there in radio land. To them 60s music is new. However, they will never come if stations keep building up their broadcast as an oldies experience. Psychologically it will permeate everything that is done on the air. And, yes, it WILL sound old.

So … as Cher would say as she slaps a little face … “Get over it!” (Cher’s from the 60s you know and she never grows old).

Tell you what I am going to do. I’m going to throw the problem out to all the Lloyd Thaxton Mouse Cliquers and have them kick it around. Their goal? Come up with a new format name to replace “Oldies.”

To all my Mouse Cliquers: Don’t let LA down. Come up with some names. My favorite would be “Boss Radio.” But that is taken. However, it sure sounds new to me?

While you’re trying to come up with ideas, keep saying this:

“Out with the Oldie. In with the New.”

Stay tuned

13 Comments:

Blogger Gary said...

Never thought of it that way, Uncle Lloyd. What I don't like about the "ahem" format is this. A few years ago they only played the 50s and 60s. Nowadays they play the 60s and 70s. AND they play the same songs OVER AND OVER AND OVER again! In the good old days the radio charts were built on TOP 40, but now they play only songs that hit the Top 5 (or so it seems). EXPAND the playlist to include those songs that hit the TOP 40 or even the TOP 50. People will say "Hey, I remember that song!" more times than not when they hear something like Dion's DRIP DROP or Herman's Hermits EAST WEST. Now when people hear an "ahem" song it's just another song that they've heard a million times, and it's gotten to be boring for a lot of them. I can't hear BABY LOVE by the Supremes anymore, but give me THE HAPPENING anytime! I can't hear LET'S HANG ON by the Four Seasons anymore but give me TELL IT TO THE RAIN and let's dance! EXPAND THE PLAY LIST! Play 50s thru the EARLY 70s TOP 40/TOP 50 songs and you've got a station that will go somewhere. I listen to a couple online "ahem" stations now and I hear MANY songs that I haven't even thought of in a long time. Commercial radio stations should do the same.
As for a new name for this? Forget "Classic Rock". That is being used by stations that wouldn't know classic rock if it hit them on the head. How about "Real Rock & Roll" station? Yeah, it's a bit long, but we can work on it. Can't use "Real Rock" because the music of that time wasn't "ROCK", it was and is ROCK AND ROLL.
LONG LIVE ROCK & ROLL!!!
NEXT!
Gary

4:46 AM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

Gary:

You're always right there with some good stuff. I had a thought. They label country music stations, "Country."

How about "City?" You know like in, "Surf City" "Rock City" ""Blues City." Hey, Motown is about a City.

Wait! Wait! They already have "Urban." Damn!

Back to the sound board.

LT

2:06 PM

 
Blogger John said...

We already lost our best radio station in Atlanta -- although a weaker signal station is trying -- but I can bearly receive it. The "oldies" are songs that you know the words (because you can actually hear them) and you can/do sing along -- even the young kids love them. These are songs that will likely never die, even when we eventually do.

2:15 PM

 
Blogger John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:16 PM

 
Anonymous dana m said...

Your post certainly hits a sore spot with "O" fans in the San Diego area. We lost our local "O" station, KOOL 99.3, to Spanish language programming last year. Our DJ's put up a last stand effort for listeners, but to no avail.

Shortly before the demise of "O" programming as we knew it, an article titled "Chilly future faces Kool 99.3" was published in the North County Times about the nationwide topic of "O" programming. Here’s a short excerpt that tells of the efforts of my favorite DJ, Dave Mason. The full article is at: http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/06/16/entertainment/radio/61505125652.txt

With his station's days potentially numbered, Kool 99.3 FM program director Dave Mason has decided to go gonzo.

Normally, the nation's endangered oldies stations play a few hundred hits by artists such as the Association, Supremes and Beatles (at least songs from before the Fab Four themselves went gonzo). Station playlists don't go much beyond 500 songs because, as the thinking goes, radio listeners can't handle variety: They want to hear a song they know every time they tune in.

Well, never mind the conventional wisdom. During the past couple of months, the mild-mannered Mason, a KOOL 99.3 morning personality, let his hair down. He's more than doubled the station's playlist to about 1,200 songs and expanded its definition of "oldies" to include tunes from the early '60s and late '70s, not just the mid-'60s to mid-'70s.

Joining the mix are the older (Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers) and the newer (disco tunes).

"The thing we finally realized is that there's an appetite out there for wider variety," Mason said."


Appetite for "O" variety or not, we lost 99.3 "O" programming. The writer of the article also came up with the following:

Why are oldies stations on the way out? According to industry observers, it's a simple matter of economics: The advertisers, who keep radio stations afloat, aren't very interested in baby-boomer listeners.

"Now that advertisers are focused on 18- to 49-year-olds, radio is quickly chasing youngsters and abandoning the group that already likes them," said Nashville radio consultant Robert Unmacht."


The "bottom line" hits bottom again! Hopefully, the Los Angeles station won't meet the same fate. Meanwhile, why not try a new format title to replace the "O" word. I like Gary's "Real Rock" suggestion, but as he says, what Rock means to some is NOT Rock N' Roll.

I remember Boss Radio and the Boss Jocks. Clear Channel's "KOOL" moniker didn't save that station. The only word that comes to mind is "Groovy" - but that's probably an over used word when it comes to the 60s. Time to put the thinking cap on?

3:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK now you've open the can of worms I have been talking about for years. KRTH in Los Angeles for years have turned a deaf ear to the screams of myself and about a dozen other people, who have simply said.... BROADEN THE PLAYLIST!!! ... A quote from the music director is basically the large company line that owns all the stations in the BIG CITY is.... they want a song on that everyone can quickly ID with and sing along with. The top five song are those songs. The fact that they are 15th out of 80 plus stations that can be heard in L.A. They feel that they are at the top of their game. They have broaden their play list, from about 250 songs to a wild 500 songs. ( ask me if I'm impressed) (NOT!) Out of how many hits that have come an gone since 1955. Hmmmmm doesn't sound like they've scratched the surface. The other interesting thing about the music director for KRTH... he's all of 28, 29 year old. (HE's a BABY!) WHAT THE HECK DOES HE KNOW ABOUT THE MUSIC HE'S PROGRAM. (NUTTIN')

Lloyd it's great that you would offer your wealth of knowledge about the music that came from a wonderful era of 1955 thru 1980. But I'm bettin' that the ego's of the people that work at KRTH won't accept your gracious offer. The only way we can find the music we like is to go to the internet. The top of the list of stations I enjoy listening to is KD radio dot com. They have a boosted 30,000 songs in their playlist. And I believe them. I rarely ever hear the same song in one 12 period. OR over the course of several days I haven't heard the same song. While the DJ's are not all that perfect as you may have become a custom to listen to the likes of KRTH. Or any other over the air radio station coming from L.A. But the music is GREAT! ! ! ! One of the songs I heard just the other day that REALLY stuck out was a novelty song called MY DADDY IS PRESIDENT. I can't remember the name of the girl that sang it... but she's suppose to be sounding like Carolyn Kennedy. Singing about the fact that her daddy is the president and what does your daddy do. Cute song... I haven't heard that song since it came out in the late 60s just after John Kennedy was elected. Would KRTH entertain playing that song.... NO WAY! ! ! ! Their days are numbered. They've lost their listening audiences to the internet, simply because of their stubbornness. For them to change now would be just a little to late.

WRLL in Chicago just fell to being a another TALK radio station. (UGH!) WRLL did a really good job at playing the broadest playlist. They played the early pop artiest of the 50s like Frank, Dean, Perry, mixed in. It was number two on my list of internet radio stations I like to listen to. When I couldn't attach to KDradio... I'd listen to them. and number three is.... MUSIC OF YOUR LIFE. One of the best L.A. radio DJ's ever to come down the pike is on MUSIC OF YOUR LIFE. A fellow that use to be on another really great station in L.A. KMPC. Chuck Southscott. What a great voice.

The only way you'll ever hear your favorite songs anymore is.... play them yourself. I haven't listen to KRTH in over 8 years. My antenna broke off in the car wash one day. I just never got it replaced. Instead I made an mp3 disc containing 255 songs that are ALL my favorites. with NO COMMERCIALS and NO LOUD MOUTH DJ that can only say K - earth 101.

later,
Robert V.

5:05 PM

 
Blogger Gary said...

Personally, I didn't want to advertise the certain internet radio stations I listen to, but I will. TopShelfOldies.com has different DJ's every night of the week with fun and games for the listeners and in the chat room. Each night the different DJ's offer different types of music, from doo-wop, to Frank Sinatra, to novelty, to rarely heard 45s. Between the two DJs on Saturday night, they own OVER 150,000 records between them.
Another station is superoldies.com that is run by a good friend and neighbor of mine. NO DJ chatter, just music, vintage commercials, and current voice-overs from some of our favorite artists of the past. This station plays EVERYTHING that hit the Top 100 Billboard chart from Jan. 1955-Dec. 1969. LOTS of rarities. This station is free, but the owner does request any kind of donation to keep the station running. He's a guy that is in his mid 30s and plays in one of the areas top oldies/variety bands and has put LOTS of money into this station, so us listeners try to help him out whenever possible.
Lloyd, if you need to delete this post, I'll understand, as I know your blog shouldn't really be used to advertise things like this, but I figured WHAT THE HECK.....
NEXT!
Gary

6:41 PM

 
Blogger Gaylel said...

Thank God for people like Lane Quigley and the Memory Lane show. This man on Rock-it-Radio plays all the records that so-called corporate oldies radio does not play anymore.

This is why I stopped listening to KRTH for this reason--too much song repetition!!!


Yes, ladies and gents, the oldies stations now are endangered species these days--oh wait, they went the way of format changes......

9:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the playlists need to be expanded extensively. Instead of "oldies", they should be called repeat radio, with lots of commercials.

How about Variety, Expanded, All-music, Real Music, Rock-On, Good Music, Intelligent, or Retro Radio - if they expand their playlists. I've personally always yearned for a station to play great music from any era (including now).

They must have great programming, by someone with an ear for any good music. If I may be so bold, there's this guy I've heard of - Lloyd Thaxton - that could definitely get them out of their radio rut. In fact, it would be better if he did prgramming for an internet station, so I could listen out here in Texas. How about Radio Thaxton??? Hint, hint ;)

I'd bet most music lovers and musicians enjoy any really good music, as I do.

If you play it, they will listen. Even if you call it "oldies". Although, I don't like that term either. It smacks of, well, er...um, uh... - oldi-ness :P yuck.

Teresa

12:24 PM

 
Anonymous Buzz said...

Dear Lloyd,

You were one of the major cultural influences in my childhood. I'm sure you've heard that a thousand and one times, and I'm sure it
s true every time. Your show was one of the hippest, coolest, funnest things on the air in the 60s, and I always wondered what happened to you after it left the air. I'm delighted to see you are alive and well and wish you many, many, MANY more years to relate your classic stories.

CAN'T WAIT FOR THE DVD!

Buzz

8:30 PM

 
Anonymous Jim said...

HI Lloyd ; I'm with Gary in that a station should have a diverse playlist .......if they dont then the new generation will think that groups like the Supremes only sang " Baby Love " and the Stones only had one mega hit " Satisfaction "........I listened to a Real Don Steele broadcast the other day and heard the Standells sing " Riot On The Sunset Strip " When did you hear KRTH paly that song last .....NEVER !!!!! I like Dick Bartleys weekly show in which he highlights a particular year ......and plays lots of hits from that era ...most of which one has'nt heard in a while....He also incorporates ODD TRIVIA from that era.......It gives the listener a good grasp of what that year was like...........Instead of calling music from the 50's, 60's 70's and beyond......how bout ROCK N ROLL GOLD ???.........Hey Gary ....Thanks for suggesting TOPSHELFOLDIES.COM.......I really enjoyed it ! .......

6:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the LA station still use "oldies?" Most stations playing '60s music banished that term a while ago.
The problem here is advertisers don't really want listeners over 50 (conventional wisdom is they are not influenced by radio advertising) and guess who listens to '60s music the most?
The oldies station in my city has radically yanked the timeframe forward, playing lots of '70s and '80s stuff, virtually no '50s and only selected tried-and-true numbers from the '60s. Acts like the Dave Clark Five, Turtles, Gary Lewis and Hermans Hermits have either vanished or are down to one "tried and true" track like "Happy Together." They've been replaced by Toto, Hall and Oates, Styx and Billy Joel.
The best hope for what we recognize as real oldies radio is probably satellite. Except for smaller stations, most "oldies" stations are either gone or a lot less "old" than they were 10 years ago.
--Berky

12:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great oldies radio station bits the dust.

KFRC-FM San Francisco is the latest major market station to go Rhythmic AC as it’s dropped Classic Hits to become “Movin’ 99.7.”

later,
Robert V

11:30 AM

 

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