WCBS-FM (NYC) changes format - and fires all the hosts...

Sigh. The Oldies have died in New York.

I’m not really big into music. But when I wanted to listen, I’d turn to WCBS-FM, as I happen to favor the oldies. In particular, I’ve come to like Micky Dolenz (the former Monkee) who was doing the morning drive show.

That all changed on Friday. At 5PM, WCBS suddenly changed formats to something called “Jack FM.” It’s a mix of old music and new. It’s been described as “an Ipod on shuffle.”

What’s particularly bad about this is the fact that all the hosts got about one hour’s notice. These are hosts such as “Cousin” Brucie Morrow, Bob Shannon and others who have been with the station upwards of thirty years. You’d think they deserve more than an hour’s notice.

What’s even more galling (to me anyway), is that that very morning, Micky Dolenz celebrated his 100th show with a live broadcast from Times Square. Cousin Brucie appeared on the show as well. Little Dolenz know that the 100th show he was celebrating was going to be his last one.

I understand that radio is a fickle business. Heck, I graduated with a degree in TV/Radio production - I understand the business aspects - if oldies wasn’t bringing in the right ratings or demographics, then by all means dump it.

But at the very least you could have been kinder to the fans and the hosts. WCBS has been the oldies home in NYC for over 30 years. They had a real hardcore base of fans. They certainly deserved a chance to say goodbye to thier station and thier favorite hosts. And the hosts certainly deserved better than to be let go like that.

Zev Steinhardt

KCBS - Los Angeles did the same thing. Well, the format switch overnight. They didn’t have a long-time relationship with the on-air personalities, so it wasn’t too awful. I’m sad to hear they still shaft the jocks whenever they can. Anybody who works of any other CBS station better be shopping around their resumes.

Hang in there, Mickey. Maybe XM is hiring.

I know how you feel…we had a station here in Dallas get the same treatment. In fact, they played the heck out of “Last DJ” to wave their banner in the face of Clear Channel, who controls 8 or 10 stations in our market. Might not have pissed me off more, if that actually HAD DJs.

You, however, seem to be in luck. According to your station’s website (whose link I’ve misplaced), they’re continuing their old format over the web, complete with Mickey’s morning show. Kinda hard to listen to in drivetime, unless your wireless network has really good range…but at least you got to keep something.

I used to just hate Clear Channel…now this Jack is giving them a run for their money.

InkBlot :eek:

Happened on Friday here in Chicago. WJMK-FM, home of “The Greatest Hits of the '60s and '70s” is now Jack FM.

Nashville also knows Jack.

Don’t know whether to grin at my joke, or wince at the radio.

Kansas City and Dallas have Jack also.

In the case of KC it didn’t preempt a popular station.

It appears to be a national network feed of music (same song played simultaneously in all cities). In fact the stations creed “we play what we want” helps cover the fact that there is no local control over the play list. Jack has very little announcing.

That said, I think there are few personalities worth listening to (I would have liked to try out Dolenz’s show though. I hope he gets national exposure in his next job) and the mostly music format with a very long songlist makes the Jack station one of my favorites. All of the local stations rotate about 30 songs while Jack appears to rotate hundreds.

Seattle suddenly got Jack FM, too. Haven’t listened to it much, but it replaced a supposedly-hip-and-edgy rock and roll station and seems decidedly less hip-and-edgy. It’s kind of like an ipod on shuffle in that every once in a while you hear something you’d prefer not to admit you ever listened to.

Clear Channel aside, it was inevitable…If not regrettable.

A few years back, the safe-as-milk corporate program director truncated WCBS’s suitable-track playlist down to +/-650 songs ([sup]1[/sup]). Let me say that again in classic WCBS-FM on-air personality reverb:

The DJs were only allowed to play music from a list of 650 songs. This on an oldies station that was alleged to be the home of the AM-Pop. Do the math, that’s 25 songs per year from the years 1955-1982 ([sup]2[/sup]). Variety died, constant repetition became the norm and ratings went down the toilet. It’s no wonder listeners have migrated to iPods & Satellite Radio.

([sup]1[/sup]) Based most likely on a pared down version of the cashbox
([sup]2[/sup]) Right about the time WNBC & WABC-AM switched from Top 40 to talk.

I haven’t looked yet - But I’ll bet on the local NYC radio bulletin / message boards people are squeeling like stuck pigs. It’s been over 20 years & you still read sentiments from listeners lamenting the format change of Music Radio 77. (That link has some great nostalgic clips of Scott Muni, Harry Harrison & Cousin Brucie, et al.)

Now what I am I going to listen to when I’m in NJ/NY? :frowning:

Jack FM hit Baltimore a few months ago, too – it took over the oldies station there (WQSR). That was a toughie for me personally, because it was the station where I interned while in college and it’s where I worked as a board operator for a little while after graduating. Granted, it had been almost 12 years since I’d set foot in that station, but it was an important place to me.

Welcome to the clearchannelization of American radio. Make it all the same, with programming coming from a central studio and broadcast though local stations manned only by a technician to ensure that the signal gets though. Fire local DJs, get rid of local content and local interest. Make money.

It’s the way of the future.

Not only on existing boards - but on a forum dedicated entirely to the WCBS-FM format change: Oldies WCBS-FM Becomes JACK - Just When You Think You’ve Heard It All.

While I mourn the loss of an oldies station, I understand the business side of it. If there are enough people in New York to support an oldies station, another one will come along.

I’m really upset about the way the staff was treated. Especially the cold-heartedness in letting Micky Dolenz go ahead with his 100th show celebration all the while knowing that he was going to be canned that afternoon. That’s just too cold.

Zev Steinhardt

I’m not pleased at all. Of course, I wasn’t pleased by the paring down… and trust me, I noticed it. But I think I’m getting an Ipod for my car when Howard goes away. I used to be a college DJ, and I have more discs than any three men should.

These guys don’t know Jack.

I liked Mickey, too. I grew up with Cousin Brucie, but I was pleasantly surprised by Mickey. He had some good interviews, too.

Is there really any other way to do it? It’s sad that they do it that way, but the DJs have the power to cause havoc- including pulling stunts that could cost the station its license- if they were allowed on the air after finding out they would be losing their jobs in X days. I’m sure their contracts are being bought out, so they’ll be making money as if they were employed.

This happened recently in my area. The local Oldies channel, a regional fixture for decades that broadcasted on FM and AM, converted to “the at-work station” format – in other words, nothing but lame-ass soft pop. I don’t listen to it, so I’m not sure what happened to the DJs. Then the only '80s channel converted to a variety format, but it’s mostly the worst of the Oldies. That station appears to have kept all of its DJs though.

I listen to John Boy and Billy in the mornings and Flashback on Sunday mornings – both on rock stations. Otherwise, I listen to CDs now.

One more then I’ll shutup:

Listen Here

The Jack has gotten to Indy as well. I haven’t listened to it, nor do I know whether or not it took over another station, as I don’t know Indianapolis radio too well. But I do know that this all just seems terribly cold-hearted, and kind of scares me as a college DJ with thoughts of making a career of it.

I hadn’t realized that Jack FM in Dallas had taken over a previous station. I thought it was a completely new one. I have really enjoyed listening to it since I moved back, mostly because I’m sick and tired of DJs talking over the beginnings and ends of songs. At first, the playlist was really extensive, but over the last couple of months, I’m hearing a lot of repeats. They seem to be blanding out.

Add to that their treatment of the DJs in New York, and I guess I’ll be switching to another format. Dang it.

Do think twice. And then think again. I was royally screwed while working in radio a couple of times and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. I certainly would think twice about accepting an on-air job for a Clear Channel station.

My advice would be to go into TV if you can. A behinds the scenese job like producing will pay better than radio and have better job security.

Do think twice. And then think again. I was royally screwed while working in radio a couple of times and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. I certainly would think twice about accepting an on-air job for a Clear Channel station.

My advice would be to go into TV if you can. A behinds the scenes job like producing will pay better than radio and have better job security.