Abe, Doug, Bob, Dave, Ben, Ted and Jack have invaded my radio. Who are these fools?

I travel a lot for work and drive through a number of radio markets each week. I began noticing in mid to late April billboards with things like “Ted-- we play anything.”

I thought it was just mid-sized markets doing it at first, but being in Chicago this past weekend, I noticed the oldies station is now Jack-FM (what the hell has this Jack done with Dick Biondi??), and Detroit switched Top 40 DRQ into Doug-FM.

Sigh Just another steeping stone in the utter downfall of radio. DJs being let go all over the place. Random, wierd iPod-like song shuffles. “Wild and crazy” we-play-anything-we-damn-well-please attitude disguising a bland easy-listening/adult contemporary format.

What cities have gone this route? Does anyone actually enjoy these crapola new stations?

Philly now has ‘Ben’, I think.

Ye gods. I went away to college for one year and every decent radio station (well, all one of them) in Philly just vanishes.

It’s the invention of Infinity Broadcasting.
Their huge playlist is made up of songs that were considered “like alot” by dozens of participants of focus groups.
They’d sit for hours listening to 10 second clips of songs and rate them dislike alot, dislike somewhat, like somewhat, like alot, or I am not familiar with that song.

Infinity then took any song that got the “like alot” rating by the majority of participants and added it to the playlist.

A sort of music for the masses ipod shuffle playlist.

You were a fan of Y100, then? Preston and Steve are on WMMR now. If you care.

Recent thread on the proliferation of these stations.

Jackson, MS has a good one called Jack FM. They stick largely (though not invariably) with classic rock artists, but do a good job with mixing in interesting deep album cuts and rarely-heard live performances. Still, there are some weird segues – going from a live recording of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” to the Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants”, for example.

The Baton Rouge, LA version is called Red 93 FM. They’ll play excellent songs at times, but there is way too much adult contemporary filler on Red.

I like Detroit’s Doug-FM. It’s a hell of a lot better than DRQ, which I swear only had about a dozen songs on their playlist. I don’t miss the DJ’s either. Most of them just aren’t very interesting, and IMHO the time is better used by playing music. Doug-FM sticks in a 30-second news update during my morning commute, which is about what The Drive does (when they finally get around to reading the news) and is more than you can expect from WRIF (Drew and Mike will read one story, and then spend 15 minutes on some tangential discussion.)

Many years ago, like 1989, I was working at Comiso AS Sicily on the radio. My boss and station manager demanded that I give my morning radio show a name like “The Zoo” or some other thing usually accompanied by a slide whistle.
I refused for about two weeks, when he finally ordered me to name it I decided on Doug.
Great idea, just a decade or so too early.

Here in Baltimore 102.7 has become Jack, and I echo bordelond’s comments completely. It has become my primary music radio station, it really rocks. (Heavy on 80s music, perfect for an old 38 YO fogey like myself)

“So turn your crank… to Frank!”


Recently I caught a bit of the Don and Mike show here in DC. They were talking about (mostly making fun of) all these stations switching to JACK-FM and BOB-FM and GENERIC MALE NAME-FM.

A guy called in and said he was listening to another local station called MIX 107.3 which used to be a “Best of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s” soft rock kind of station. Now they do what all these other stations are doing, minus the change to a male name. They kept him on long enough to tell them what they were playing. It went from Elton John to U2 to Mariah Carey to Whitney Houston to Backstreet Boys, or some similar mix. They kept asking, “How is this different than their previous format?”

Answer: it isn’t. That’s exactly the kind of stuff they used to play. Only now they “play the best mix of…well, everything!” It’s nothing but a marketing gimmick. It’s a good thing I’ve got a healthy CD collection, or I’d go mad switching stations hearing the same thing and thinking my radio was broken.

That’s the way our local station Red 93 is. Yeah, not so great all of the time.

But some of the better ones, like Jack FM in Jackson, MS, and the same-named station in Baltimore (as WeirdDave mentioned) have a much better playlist, with crap appearing only occasionally.

I have to admit that in general I have’t bothered listening to the actual radio in my car in years…since I bought the Jetta in '02 [which mrAru rolled on monday, sniffle so it is totalled out and now we have to get another car=( ] and it had a 6 disc changer in it…

The main reason I stopped listening was the infernal pointless drivel from DJs. WHen I am driving to work, all I want is music. I dont care what the weather is, I can roll down the damned window and stick my hand out. The time for a weather forecast is when youa re at home dressing for work. I don’t care how amusing your dog Skippy is, nor do I want to hear about how the designated hitter is ruining your enjoyment of a sport I could care less about. I want MUSIC. Maybe a time announcement every 15 minutes, and an emergency voice drop in if some part of the road system is clogged by an accident.

See, people are happy that the DJs are going away. But, to me, the DJs are what seperates my radio from my iPod.

You want a wide variety of uninterrupted music? Put in a CD, tape or iPod.

In the past, radio stations had personalities, and personality. But then it started. Media giants Clear Channel and Infinity started taking away the uniqueness and varying musical tastes of different markets. Playlists were faxed and emailed in from faraways locations.

My friend worked at an alternative rock station when the corporate takeovers first started. He used to call me at home, ask me to call the station, and request a specific song. The stinking playlist was already set; the station just wanted to keep up appearances that listeners still had a modicum of programming control. I asked my friend if they ever actually put on listener requests. He said, “Only if the requested song was coming up.” Sometimes they would record a caller requesting a song, and save it for sometime in the next couple of days.

Then the advent of increased syndication began. DJs were consolidated and piped to multiple markets. People lost their jobs; radio markets lost a little more of their soul.

Now even more people are actually losing their jobs because some idiot corporate hacks think the only way to compete with iPods and multi-disc changers is to become exactly like the iPods and multi-disc changers. If I want to listen to the Bee Gees followed by Dr. Hook followed by Rob Base, I’ll burn a CD.

Homogenization is not progress. I remember going to different parts of the country and hearing music I didn’t hear very often (or ever) back at home. Now, I can drive from Detroit to Springfield, IL and hear Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” in seven different markets in the same day. The first time you hear a long-forgotten ‘oldie,’ you think, ‘Wow! Haven’t heard this in a while.’ Then you keep driving, and you hear it again. And again. And again. And you’re reminded of the homogenized corporate playlist society we actually live in.

ugh this is becoming a rant. Forgive me.


Strangely, 92.5 here in Toronto is Jack FM, which sounds like the same format. Toronto’s version has the slogan “playing what we want,” and makes a point of not accepting requests (except for a charity drive once where you could pay them to play songs). Their lunch-time show is called the “No Request Nooner,” a take-off on a rival station’s “All Request Nooner.”

What if you can’t afford the four hundred bucks for an iPod?

I really don’t understand why anyone would want to listed to the SPEDs that the average radio station hires as DJs. If you want to listen to morons talking, turn to a news channel.

Of course, Toronto still has a huge variety of stations in addition to Jack FM, so maybe we’re just lucky.

Then you put in a tape or a CD, as I also suggested:

CD player’s broken on one vehicle … and non-existant on my work truck. The cassette players on both eat tapes. Sorry, I can’t justify the expense of correcting ither situation.

I very much appreciate having a gratis FM radio station that I can leave on for 30-minute stretches at a time. And when a song comes on I don’t like? I search the dial or switch to AM sports talk radio.

Besides, all these Jack, Fred, Red, Ted, etc. stations are not formatted the same way, anyhow. Some are still as “Meh” as the once-ubiquitous Mix-FM schtick was ten years ago. But some others are truly inspired for a startling proportion of the time.

I don’t know if there’s a Jack or whatnot in this area (Columbus and environs), but I like the idea. There aren’t that many music options here. Lessee, I don’t listen to country, so that knocks out a few stations. I don’t listen to religious programming or “soft jazz.”

That leaves “soft rock”, non-contemporary “soft rock” station, hot AC, top 40, oldies, metal, and classic rock. The amount of overlap is enormous, especially since the hot AC station plays 80s music, as does soft rock, nc soft rock, oldies, and classic rock.

I listen to the hot AC station the most, just because they do play new music on occasion. The others seem to play the same damn playlist over and over and over and…

Seattle now has Jack FM and I think it’s pretty funny. They sound so anti-establishment - Don’t tell us what to play! We’ll play what we want! Before launching into Your Song or Come Sail Away or We’re an American Band or something equally white bread and boring. Yeah, that’s the way to rebel, Jack!

I don’t miss DJs AT ALL. They were rarely funny and spent my entire morning commute laughing at their own inane prattle. I had been listening to home made CDs in the car exclusively, but I do listen to Jack occasionally, it rarely repeats and doesn’t seem to have a ton of commercials.

San Francisco has a Max and is pretty dreadful. It didn’t break into the 12 station FM presets in my car.

My first experience with this format was Dave out of Atlanta, which I found to be quite good. The format seemed to me to be “stuff you’d probably like if you like Out of Time/Document era REM”. A little too much Dave Matthews and its ilk though. Max seems to focus on San Francisco hippie scene music which isn’t to my taste at all.