When I was a kid, holiday weekends meant special radio programs! Not syndicated shows, but genuine, live and locally-produced specials. In Minneapolis, KDWB had “The Memorial Day 500 Countdown.” Obviously, this was a play on the Indy 500 which also took place over Memorial Day Weekend. Starting at 3:00PM on Friday, KDWB would count down what they determined to be the Top 500 songs of all time. #1 was always “Stairway to Heaven”, of course. Also in the Top 10 were “Free Bird”, “Layla”, “Roundabout”, and “Hey Jude.” The usual suspects. After Number One was played, the jock would start over with Number Five Hundred.
There was nothing magical about this. Several markets did it. But it WAS an annual event that we looked forward to. Most importantly, it was live and local radio. The song list in Minneapolis was different from the song list on WLS in Chicago. Which was different still from WABC’s list in New York City or KHJ’s in Los Angeles. Just as their weekly countdowns were different. That’s what made radio fun and interesting.
Do you know of any stations which still do local holiday programming? Or does it all come via downloaded .mp3 files from a national syndicator? I strongly suspect the latter. Please tell me that I am wrong.
It’s not very often that I personally endorse a radio station on this website. But I’ll make an exception for Gainesville’s 104.9 WOW FM. This is one of those rare projects that put all the elements together and got it right.
To the FCC, this station is known as WYGC-FM 104.9 in High Springs, Florida. Although only spoken at the top of the hour, the call letters themselves have a long and interesting history. The WYGC calls were originally attached to the 100.9 frequency in Gainesville. The format was country and the calls stood for “We’re Your Gator Country.” Gainesville is home to the University of Florida Gators. 104.9 was originally issued the confusingly similar WYOC calls. Those stood for “We’re Your Oldies Channel.” Format at the time was satellite oldies. Asterisk Communications formerly owned both stations. They moved the WYGC calls to 104.9 when it became a simulcast of WTRS, their country station in neighboring Ocala. Now, back to the present day:
Under current owner JVC Broadcasting, this station has become 104.9 WOW FM, positioned as “Gainesville’s Classic Hits.” I consider it Classic Top 40, due to the station’s broad playlist and personality-intensive approach. Believe it or not, WOW FM features real live air talents behind real microphones! Longtime North Florida air personality “Leroy the Love Toy” handles mornings. Program Director Chris Chaos (another well known talent in the region) does middays. Legendary Top 40 jock JoJo Cookin’ Kincaid is the afternoon host. Yes, THAT JoJo Kincaid. The one whom I used to steal bits from when he was at KKLQ in San Diego! Their night guy is Doug Clifford, formerly across town at WSKY-FM 97.3. WOW FM’s airstaff complements the format quite nicely. Listen for just a few minutes and it become obvious these guys love what they do. They’re good at it, too!
Many stations have experimented with the Classic Hits/Greatest Hits format. Most have failed because the playlist was too narrow and leaned towards a Classic Rock wannabe sound. Or because the station was voicetracked, lacking live personalities who could interact with listeners in real time. WOW FM “gets it” with this format. The result is an upbeat, energetic station that’s FUN to listen to. Very reminiscent of Top 40 radio during the 1970s and 80s. The music is dead on. All your favorites are there along with plenty of “oh, WOW songs” to keep things interesting. They even play disco! I haven’t heard Debbie Boone yet, but I’m sure she’s in there somewhere.
I believe JVC has created a winner here. Give WOW FM a listen when you have a chance and let me know what you think.
These past few weeks, I’ve been listening to a new online station: K-ROB. The station promotes itself as “Non Stop 70s and 80s Hits” and they certainly deliver on that promise! KROB is currently running commercial-free. Broadcasting from the Delmarva Peninsula, K-ROB is the creation of veteran radio programmer Rob Walker.
If you’re wanting to hear the same 400 or so “carefully selected and researched” classic hits as dictated by corporate consultants and focus groups, do NOT listen to Rob’s new station. You will no doubt be disappointed. But if you enjoy hearing such lost 45s as Oxo’s “Whirly Girl”, Roger Vodouris’ “Get Used To It”, Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy”, and even “Soul City” by the Partland Brothers, you will LOVE KROB!
Of course, all the big Top 40 radio hits of the 1970s & 80s play here, too. The presentation is very professional and the audio quality is excellent. Give K-ROB a listen and let us know what you think!
“No school today. School is closed. Schools will be closing early. Today is a snow day. Buses will be 2 hours late. Buses will be running snow routes only.” Growing up in Minnesota, these were phrases I LOVED to hear! I’d listen to the radio in eager anticipation of hearing my school announced as closed, or at least delayed by an hour or two.
Today, of course, there are alternate sources for this information. Many districts post school closings and snow days on their websites. Sadly, many radio stations are now voicetracked/automated and thus not even capable of relaying this information to the communities they are licensed to serve.
Given the severe weather that is currently gripping the country, I thought it would be a good time to discuss how your local stations are dealing with school and business closings on snow days. Do they have live, local air personalities who deliver updated information as it becomes available? Or are your local stations delivering prerecorded lists of weather closures and delays to their listeners which are often dated and of limited value?
Call me a relic, but I love the sound of traditional Christmas music on AM radio! Every year, a select few stations carry on the decades-old tradition of playing continuous Christmas music from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.
What’s REALLY cool is when News/Talk AMs which haven’t played music in years flush their format for a day and broadcast the sounds of the season.
Anyone have a list of stations that are planning on doing this? If not, let’s start one!