August 15, 2003
An actual serious (yet still fair and balanced!) post about music

Kevin is pretty happy about this story of how the new Country Legends radio station in Houston is replacing tampon seller KILT as the top-rated country station in Houston. I'm glad to hear it, too, but I still have the same reservations about this station that I had back in February when I first heard about it and compared them to 106.9 The Point, the all-80s station in town.

[The Point] started playing stuff I hadn't heard in years, and it was great fun. But a year or so later, it's dry as dust. I don't know if they've narrowed their playlist (it sure feels like it to me) or if the life span of such a station is that limited, but I guarantee that the novelty will wear off...Will you still love "Ring of Fire" and "You Ain't Woman Enough" after you've heard them every day for nineteen straight days?

Country Legends plays music from a broader time frame (the 50s through the 80s), and according to the Press article, they do play lesser known songs by their regular artists, something that The Point and the classic rock station The Arrow cannot claim, both of which are to the good. Again, though, any format that is limited to a forever-static set of music is bound to go stale sooner or later.

It's really amazing, by the way, what lengths static format stations will go to in order to ensure that they never play something their audience doesn't already know by heart. The Point hosted a concert by The Human League earlier this week. They broadcasted live from the concert venue and had a brief chat with the two female Human League members. One of the things they touched on was the album that Human League released last year. Why bother if you're never ever going to play any song off that album? I don't care one way or the other about Human League, but isn't it just barely possible that someone who likes "Fascination" and "Don't You Want Me Baby" might enjoy the new stuff? Is anyone being served by not spinning a few tracks to find out?

The same basic thing happened a few months ago on The Arrow. They had a phone interview with Robert Palmer, who's promoting a new album. Again, this is exactly the audience that the artist would like to reach, but they'll never hear what he's got unless they hunt it down for themselves. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can't help but think that this behavior by radio stations has a bigger negative impact on CD sales than any amount of illegal downloading.

I understand that the Country Legends manager feels he's got a winner on his hands and that he'd hate to muck with success. But he's already got a what-not-to-do example to guide him in the failed KIKK experiment. Would it kill him to survey a few listeners and see what they might think about mixing in some new stuff that's in the style of what they like even if it isn't a known commodity to them? Would it kill any radio station manager in this town to do that?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 15, 2003 to Music | TrackBack

Are you suggesting that a radio station provide a "fair and balanced" mix of music? ;)

Perhaps Country Legends should play material from the artists from the 50s and 80s, then mix in some of the later material from the same artists. A perfect "Work Force Block" (I miss WNEW-FM!) would be Johnny Cash doing Folsom Prison Blues (1955), Deliah's Gone (originally on The World of Johnny Cash in 1970 - my younger brother has the LP, yes, I said LP), and Hurt (2003).

Posted by: William Hughes on August 15, 2003 4:27 PM

I was an increasingly frustrated KIKK listener until they went Smooth Jazz, at which point Kenny G drove me to the scan button.

Since then, I've found myself bouncing between 97.1, 106.9 and 93.7 (I think - whatever the 60s station that plays the Beatles is). Something comes on I don't like, change stations. The nice thing about it is I haven't heard Garth or Stars on the Water in months.

I'm really glad to see 97.1 on top. Given this is a major country market, maybe someone will figure out audiences think commercial country sucks.

I second (third?) the comments about playing artist's current work, particularly if it fits stylistically with their older stuff. Many of them - Dolly and Willie, particularly - are still working and doing very good stuff.

Posted by: Charles M on August 15, 2003 6:56 PM

KIKK was getting on the right track when they started playing more "Texas Music" They went out on a limb and it was great....I never had to change the dial....but then it happened....Smooth nothing, it just changed at noon on that faitful Monday.

If you want to hear more Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Bleu Edmondson, Wade Bowen, etc, etc, etc. then please visit my website and sign my petition to get another Texas Radio station in Houston.



Posted by: on November 4, 2003 7:41 PM