The Perfect Radio Station

Anybody here listen to the radio? Anybody here prefer a radio over their mp3 player or CD’s? It’s no wonder why many articles state that radio is dying. Radio sucks. Seriously…this is coming from a radio guy. Satellite radio is not the answer. It’s hardly lasting itself. So really, satellite radio proves that the commercials aren’t the only thing killing radio. I think satellite radio is actually bad, because I view it as the “cable” of radio. I don’t want to have to pay for the “good” channels when there’s nothing else on. The music is unedited on XM and Sirius – big deal, you still aren’t getting that many listeners. But, I’ve haven’t really listened to satellite radio enough to critique it, so I’ll leave that alone and stick to what I know.

These are the major problems I find with today’s radio:

Go to fullsize image1. The DJ’s – I want better DJ’s. I don’t care about the celebrity status of who is on the air. I want people who know what they are talking about when it comes to the music they are playing. If you are nothing more than a personality talking about gossip – do a morning show. Don’t interrupt the music with BS. On the other hand, Indie 103 does the celeb-DJ well. They get guys from the music industry talking about the music industry – imagine that!

My solution – If you can, get DJ’s who know something about the music they are playing. Get DJ’s that aren’t awkward when they do interviews. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard how uncomfortable the celebrity is when the DJ is a dumbass. See video below…she actually handles his stupidity pretty well.

2. Nights and Weekends – I hate that many stations turn into jukeboxes because there aren’t any DJ’s in the studio. And, having a DJ do a voice over beforehand is just cheap and classless. But, it’s definitly better than having no voice at all. I remember when my college station would be without DJ’s in the summer, listeners would call the summer staff begging for voices – just to introduce songs if nothing else.

My Solution – Hire more DJ’s! If the station is too cheap to hire someone to talk on air 24/7, then why do you pay people to do board op? There are too many people out there that would love to be on air, so a station could easily hire voice talent for cheap. Pay top dollar to your main DJ’s, but let some rookies have late night experience.

3. Overplaying songs – This is probably what a lot of people would put as their #1 reason for not listening to radio. Well, hate to tell you but…it’s the listener’s fault that songs get overplayed. Some people just don’t know how to quit requesting songs…I.E. “Nickelback”, “Crank Dat”, and “Lips of an Angel” (ps. quit requesting that song for your significant other) The other part of the problem with overplaying of songs is that stations tend to keep a small amount of songs in their library.

My Solution – Get a bigger library of songs. Then really mix new and old. A solid rotation would include your Top 40 songs, 20 new releases, 100 Heavy Rotation, 1000 light rotation, and another 1000+ to be thrown in at random. When callers request songs, play the hell out of them – FOR A COUPLE WEEKS. Then drop it down after that.

4. The “TOP 40” – (Sort of continuing off the above) The way that R&R names their top 40 songs for all formats is a rather archaic and vague process. I don’t really even know how they figure it out. Its something like they ask a certain (small) portion of the country which songs they prefered to hear during certain hours of the day and hand write them down, then those answers get processed and somebody who got a B- in their high school statistics class does some equasions on them and then some record label execs decide if they like the result, then what they pass on is considered the top 40 songs…er something like that.

My Solution – Should be fairly obvious…quit using whatever that process is. Start getting real statistics on what is actually getting requested by listeners. Sure, this could turn into a grueling process, unless you do it right. Everything is done on computer anyway, so ditch the pen and paper and embrace Excelsheets. ClearChannel puts all their stations in the same place anyway, so that’s already consolidated. I think you’ll find as profound of changes in Top 40 requests as when the Nielsen Sound Scan changed their system for calculating CD sales.

5. Requests – Stations stick too closely to their formats and pre-generated playlists. And, I’m tired of this new gimick that a lot of stations have adapted – “My 3 at 3”, Your Six at 6, “The badass 8 at Ocho”. Wait, you’re saying I can’t get ONE request when I call in at some point during the day, but you’re going to give somebody else 8 requests all at once??

My Solution – Take requests all day everyday. This will get people excited to listen to the station, they’ll be listening for their song. I don’t necessarily want these listeners to get their voice on the air nor any dedications, but as long as they can get a request in at any point in the day…that’s cool.

6. Commercials – Last but not least…quit it with the commercials. There are too damn many of them. You know why I don’t blast radio in my car? It’s because I don’t to be sitting at a stoplight when an over amplified commercial for some car dealership or fast food restaurant comes on – yeah, I’ll look cool.

My Solution – Basically what I want to say in this paragraph is the same thing Jerry Maguire said about being a sports agent – and that got him fired. Less commercials + more music = happy listeners! Yeah, I know…the commercials are what make the money. Well, limit the amount of available spots, make the deals more exclusive, and you’ll be able to charge more for the spots. Oh, and you’ll be able to tell your advertisers that there are more listeners paying attention instead of tuning out during the 100 minute commercial blocks.


Basically, radio can survive. People need a place to turn to when they are looking to discover new music. Like it or not, it’s still the best place to go when looking for new songs and artists. Sure there’s the internet, but everyone isn’t as proficient and know where to look as others. And, radio is great for winning free stuff, like concert tickets! Oh, and get rid of those station “sweeps” that play during the segue between songs. I used to love getting songs on my cassette recorder from the radio. And those sound effects F*** it up! 😉


3 Responses to “The Perfect Radio Station”

  1. I listen to KGON (Portland OR) every morning on the way to work – Mark and Brian Show.
    On the way home it’s mp3’s.

  2. Exactly…people will pay attention to (some) morning shows if they are done well. But as soon as the music comes on…no one cares…that is wrong.

  3. Gertrude Beadlehausen Says:

    Two more things:

    Radio is invasive – start getting jocks on AT LEAST until midnight for the purpose of instant information. Weather, death of a public figure, a breaking national story…the ability to provide instant info is one of radio’s greatest assets and it’s been thrown out the window.

    Radio is theater of the mind: Anytime you hear a jocks voice, you automatically form a picture of them in your mind. The same goes for sound effects during a morning show (or any show; why not make all day creative?!) or commercials…or anything on the air. It should make a mind imagine things.

    Why are the two most attractive things about radio missing from the equation?!!!

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