oldies/classic/modern rock

Hi, this is my first time, so be gentle…
Every major city has three types of rock stations: oldies, classic rock, and modern (alternative) rock. I’m relatively young, 20, and was quite shocked to hear a song off U2’s Joshua Tree on the classic rock station the other day, yet it is still played on the modern rock station as well. So, my question(s): Does a song on a modern rock station ever become “not modern”? How old must a song be to go on classic rock or oldies stations? And, does the playlist for an oldies station ever change, or will they always stop at 1970?

This reminds me of the “classic rock” station I used to listen to. When I first started listening to them, they played songs from the “70’s, 80’s, and 90’s”. Then it became “80’s, 90’s and Today”. Now they don’t play anything from before '90, but continue to advertise themselves as “classic rock”. Explain that one.

Cave Canem. Beware the Dog.

I’m sure they have a formula for everything. Sometimes if the band is old, they’ll go over their set period to newer stuff.

Sometime in the 1980s they had for a while “modern rock” that college stations played. Like Bob Mould, Camper Van Beethoven etc etc. I’m not sure what’s modern anymore. The sounds change but the lyrics and topics don’t change.


There’s a couple oldies stations in LA. I’m always amused that there is only one post-1970 song they ever play: “Crocidile Rock” by Elton John.

As for the Clasic Rock format it seems to change every now and then. I’ve heard Blondie, the Police and U2 on them. These bands definitely fall into the right time frame put I don’t think they necessarily fall into the genre.

Modern Rock will play stuff from as far back as Bowie’s “Sufferagette City” or The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”.

Kevin Matthews (is he still on Chicago radio?) used to do a take off of a Chicago classic rock station’s (WCKG, is that still around too? I’ve been out of town for a few years) “it doesn’t have to old to be a classic” line:

“It doesn’t have to be good to be a classic”

I mean, I can understand throwing in Styx from time to time, just to avoid dead air, but Boston? Yuk.

“Anything is peaceful from one thousand, three hundred and fifty-three feet.”

I think Kevin Matthews is on the Loop now, playing whatever it is they play on the Loop (they seem to change their format weekly ;))

In my humble experience:
Oldies - Rock from the 1950’s through 1970 with the occassional foray into the early 70’s if the group itself was big in the 60’s. So you might still hear a song by the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle or Elton John song from the early-mid 70’s on an oldies station simply because the listeners like those folks as opposed to watching their calenders.

Classic Rock - Music from the 70’s and 80’s, though mostly mid to late 70’s. Again, if a group was big in the mid to late 70’s you might hear earlier works by them from the early 70’s (early Pink Floyd) or even the late 60’s (Beatles). You might also hear later works from people associated with that era (Robert Plant).

Modern - Used to be the cutting edge music. But now, with a lot of its listeners being in their mid to late 20’s or early 30’s, they get caught up in a lot of the retro 80’s tunes to pacify our desires to remember the glory days of high school and listening to The Clash and The Go-Gos. Modern stations seem to also play the more main-stream, though non-Top 40 music such as the female triumvirate of Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and Sheryl Crow.

Alternative - Major ‘alternative’ stations play the new stuff that’s too youth oriented to be on the modern station with their 25-40ish demographic, but non-Top 40 enough to be on a Top 40 station. Things such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc as well as slightly more obscure stuff like Local H. The also fluff out the play list with Modern-Alternative crossovers such as Collective Soul. College alternative stations tend to play more ‘cutting edge’ things since they don’t have to worry about ratings going down, whereas the big city stations play it safe.

Barenaked Ladies “One Week” can be heard on any radio station.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Finally, a question landing right in my backyard.
I’m manager for a radio station with the slogan: “The greatest mix of hits and oldies,” playing pop-music from the 80’s & 90’s.
When we re-formatted two years ago, some of the older listerners bitched: “Why do you say, you play oldies? I haven’t heard a single song by The Beatles!” and younger listeners said: “Why do you say you play newer songs? Everything is at least 2 months old!”

It’s a matter of perception and target groups. We go for the 20-40 year old listeners with office jobs, higher education (at least college), preferably women.

So we sell our format (which technically is called variety adult contemporary) as a station with hits and oldies, for that age group. If a high-school student doesn’t consider this as hits&oldies, we don’t care - he’s not in our target group.

For the people designing formats and programming the station (I’m one of those guys), it’s not what we actually do, but what we claim to do and how we present that. To say that a station is “modern rock” will not only attract listeners who want cutting edge modern rock, but older listeners, who want to perceive themselves as being on the cutting edge. Many of these 35 year olds would not want to listen to a station that was truly “modern rock,” a fact the programmers a very aware of. So they mix in som U2 and Nirvana. The younger listeners can accept this, as they are considered rock classics, whereas the format still carries appeal for the older listeners.

We go about designing this through very thorough tests, asking listeners what their prefernces are and never putting a song on the air, without making sure it has a big appeal with the target group selected.

Are you guys aware that most modern radio stations will rotate as few as 300 songs. For CHR stations (i.e. TOP40) in big metropolitan areas it might be as low as 100 songs.

I bet you didn’t know that, even if you think a station in your area might get to be a bit repetitious. It’s very cleaverly designed to make you not notice that fact.

Write in and be the 9th poster, after this one, and I’ll award you a genuine pin, from my radio station. Only here at WCA!


Charlie: You must not be on the Internet with your station, since you didn’t give an address. Are there any worthwhile Swedish stations we could hear ?
Are you asked to play the Song of Europe winner?

The local country station plays a lot of Jimmy Buffett. I always thought he was a county music artist, until I started hanging out in college towns. It still gives me a kick to hear my grandmother (country music fanatic) singing “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday.”

What I hate the most is when stations change their fomat, seemingly in the middle of the night like a hostile takeover. I used to be able to pull one station in that seemed like heaven to me. They played a lot of really good music, and seemingly only had one or two DJs. No talk, just tunes. It was great.

And then the day came when my radio alarm clock started playing R&B/Motown. I awoke to the strains of R. Kelly. It was a pretty bad morning.

I called the station, and said: “What gives? Is there a hostage situation there, or something? Did a massive fire wipe out your collection of R.E.M?” Nope, replied the person on the other end. We changed formats! Would you like a bumper sticker?

Now, I am stuck with either the Brittney Spears station, R&B, or the Metallica station. I just listen to CDs in my car.

I recall a couple April Fools gags played by some LA stations. A popular modern/alternative rock station played nothing but 80s heavy metal all day. Another rock and roll station posed as a Spanish language “musica ranchera” station. It really upset a lot of people and those of us who figured it out weren’t quick to clue them in.

The modern/alternative/progressive radio station here in Boston still plays stuff by the Velvet Underground and the Stooges. Some music will always be “modern”.

El Mariachi Loco -

WCKG is still around, but they went talk not too long ago. What was once arguably the best station in Chicago now never plays music. They have Howard Stern in the mornings, Jonathan Brandmeier after, followed by Steve Dahl. God, I hate Brandmeier and Dahl… Brandmeier was the one that ruined the Loop not too long ago. The guy just likes to hear himself talk.

You want to go one on one with The Great One?

Off the original topic…
When I was in Tucson there was an alternative (I still haven’t figured out what “alternative” means- I think of GG Allen or Pianosaurus Rex, others think it means Pearl Jam) station that was going to undergo a format change at midnight. Rather than play their usual mix of music or even switch to dead air, they played Ween’s “Push the Little Daisies” nonstop. At least I think it was nonstop as I quit listening after 90 minutes.

Yeah, we are: http://www.mixmegapol.com . I think you understand Swedish, right. Go to the bottom of the entrance page and click the link.

Streaming audio is still a waste of money. Prices for ads are set by Accumulated Quarter Hour (AQH) listening. Multiply the AQH (x number of people, any given 15 minutes) by the contact price, and you get the price for one spot.

To add a few hundred lsiteners would generate yearly revenue ~25 - 50.000. It would also cost the same amount. To get a 1000 listeners with streaming would cost more than we could ever get back, at least for the next couple of years.

The station, as mentioned before, is variety AC, which means a lot of Brittney Spears and Roxette.

Also, the comments here, remind me so much about the comments on radio in Sweden. All stations here use American consultants, and we all go like lemmings to the annual NAB (Nat’l as. of Boradcasters) convention /Show which will be in Orlando, early Sept. the next time (Hey! My first time in the US in sex years!).

Ask me, and I’ll tell you about the consolidating of the radio industry going on in the US right now - you won’t like it.


When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout

Thanks TheRockSays.

Yes, Brandmeier was a pain in the ass. I felt some personal vindication when his TV show bombed. HAHAHAHAHA

“Anything is peaceful from one thousand, three hundred and fifty-three feet.”

Charlie: I didn’t get far at your link, but learned enough. For instance: Calle Hammar is Mix megapols only synthpoppare. erkänna det i allafall). Has not given up becoming a star at age 32.
Give me a break!
You sure have a bunch of interesting folks to put up with.
I got http://www.sr.se/ekot/nyheter/ to play real audio, another Swedish station. They were talking about president ACHHtisaari.

El Mariachi Loco - God, you brought back bad memories of Brandmeier’s tv show. I had almost forgotten.

By the way, the Ferris quote rules. Greatest movie of all time.

You want to go one on one with The Great One?

Uhm, six years, Charlie. Six years.

Sorry, It was close to midnight my time, when I wrote that, really tired.
Six = sex in Swedish.

When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout