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Observation Of Radio Station Genres

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, 18 years and 239 days ago. Viewed 4,200 times. #3
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Dave's Observation Of Radio Station Genres

All radio stations inevitably become one of two types of station: all talk or classic rock.

Radio programming is hard. Your programming has to include content that:

  • people want to listen to; and
  • your competitors are not playing.
This is very hard because radio music is a commodity; that is, Pink Floyd on radio station A is identical to Pink Floyd on radio station B. So you cannot use specific cuts of music as a differentiator.

Your prime differentiator is the combination of tracks that you play, which is more commonly referred to as the genre of the radio station. Such genres could include:

  • classic rock
  • oldies
  • adult contemporary
  • alternative
  • contemporary/pop
  • all news
  • all sports
Other genres, such as country, or christian music, rarely survive very long before making genre changes.

It has been observed that radio stations in the Ottawa, Ontario area trend towards the all talk and classic rock genres.

This has been illustrated in the following ways:

  • CHEZ 106.1: originated as a contemporary rock and roll station; reverted to classic rock during an ownership change
  • Bear 106.9: started as a contemporary rock or alternative station (if you ignore the adult contemporary AM station the license originated as); has reverted contemporary rock with classical leanings. Historically this station has flirted with the classic rock genre but always pulls itself back from the brink
  • CFMO/CKKL 93.9: origniated as a oldies station (the classical definition of Easy Listening); was changed overnight into a contemporary pop station; then was changed into a "classic pop" station (80s-90s pop music); and most recently has been playing Pink Floyd, Lenny Kravitz, CCR, and other classic rock bands
At any point during these transitions, a radio station may bail out and suddenly go all-news (or, in the case of AM station "Energy 1200", a contemporary pop station, all-sports).

These trends are the result of programming directors attempting to chase the popular demographics, and most people want (or claim they want) to hear:

  • the popular music from their formative (teens, early 20s) years, which explains the current (aparrently waning) popularity of 80s-90s classic pop stations as well as classic rock stations
  • adult contemporary (modern "easy listening"); this is usually a safe choice for businesses, elevators, waiting rooms and the like
  • all talk, either sports or news; these stations usually rely heavilly on phone-in shows which gives the station an echo-chamber appearance of interactivity
Other demographics may appeal for alternatives, such as Oldies or modern pop; however the number of listeners that these demographics appeal to rarely produce the numbers necessary to maintain a profitable radio station. This leads station management to order radical genre changes (ie to modern pop) or more subtle and longer term genre changes (such as the almost predictable slide down the ramp to classic rock).
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