September 04, 2007
Jack comes to the radio dial

We've got ourselves a new station format in town.

The eclectic, iPod shuffle-like music format known as Jack FM [made] its Houston debut at 10:37 a.m. Friday at 103.7 FM.

The Cumulus Media station, now known as KIOL or Rock 103.7 FM, will be reformatted as KHJK, said Pat Fant, Cumulus' Houston market manager.

Houston will be the seventh market in Texas and the fifth top 10 market in the country to add Jack FM, which formats about a thousand songs by 500 artists in 18 genres of music dating from the late 1960s through today.

I liked this idea when I first heard about it, and I still like the concept. Having said that, and having now done a fair bit of shuffling on an iPod that holds about 500 songs, I can tell you that 1000 tunes don't stay fresh for as long as you might think. I hope that number increases over time, or failing that, I hope at least some new songs rotate in and old ones out on occasion. Looking at the sample list from Houstonist, I feel hope that at least I'll get to hear some new-to-me stuff for awhile, though clearly there'll be some old and very familiar items in there as well.

Jack FM operates without live DJs, so Cumulus will attempt to find positions elsewhere in the company for Rock 103.7's current on-air personalities.

Well, that explains why Walton and Johnson moved on. I like this idea even more now. If nothing else, at least now I have a decent alternative for when KACC's signal is weak. That's definitely a good thing.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 04, 2007 to Music

They tried the Jack format at WCBS-FM in New York. It was dropped this summer and a "greatest-hits" format was put in its' place.

There is something to be said for the format, however, the rotation problem hurts them.

Posted by: William Hughes on September 4, 2007 10:27 AM

I have nearly 4000 songs in my iTunes library at 3 stars or higher, and my collection is by no means comprehensive. Jack is off by an order of magnitude.

Posted by: Greg Morrow on September 4, 2007 12:24 PM

We have a Jack FM here in San Antonio, and I love it. 1000 songs feels low to me, but that may be perception or a difference from the station here.

I can say that the perceived playlist on Jack here is far, far more varied than any other station on the air. Some of the genre shifts will give you whiplash - going from AC/DC to Tom Jones is not something the human mind was built to handle.

Posted by: Buhallin on September 5, 2007 11:26 AM

WCBS has moved back to its old format, with the old DJs/ They no longer play music from the '50s, however. Now, it's just '60s, '70s and '80s.

The Jack format was interesting, but it didn't really hold my attention. And, it played a lot of commercials.

Posted by: AlphaPsiOmega86 on September 5, 2007 11:49 AM