What's With These "No Format" Radio Stations?

A local Springfield station went to “No Format.” As they proudly advertise, they play anything, be it country, Top 40, easy listening, oldies, etc. I guess whatever the DJ feels like playing.

And there are no personalities either. They play music, they break for commercials, and play more music.

I figured this was a unique Springfield thing until I was in Chicago last week and caught a similar station.

What’s the deal with this? Did the FCC require radio stations to have a format until recently? Or is this the inevitable result of the regulations that allow ownership of local radio stations by media conglomerates?

It’s just a new marketing gimmick. “No Format” really means “larger playlist”.

There’s been about a thread a week on these. Look for threads about Jack-FM (the most common name for these stations) to find them.

You probably can check it out in one of these threads:

The end of ‘Corporate’ radio?

What’s the deal with these “Jack-FM Classic Rock” stations?

The STUPIDEST thing about JACK-FM.

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

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

I haven’t caught up with the threads, and I didn’t know these stations finally existed, but I’m glad they do. I’ve been contemplating the possibility for years. Some of the local radio stations’ playlists are impossibly short. So short I wonder if it’s a joke.

I’d love to have a no-format one in my city. My musical tastes run from G & S to Johnny Cash to Madonna to AC/DC. I also think I’m most definitely not alone in that.

Of course, they could still play crap] from every genre if they aren’t careful about it, I suppose.

I like the Jack-FM in the LA area, except that it replaced a pretty cool oldies station (Arrow 93.1).

They play a wide variety of music with no annoying “personalities.” Believe me, we have enough of those in LA radio to go around (Danny Bonaduce and his skank sidekick who used to bug me in Denver are the worst offenders, but we’ve got Ryan Seacrest and Rick Dees too).

These stations are also cheaper for the corporations, I believe – you don’t need to pay for hosts or local content, just stream up the music and pump the same stuff to all your stations. It’s not as if the listeners in L.A. will care to compare notes with the listeners in Chicago, or NYC, or…

To understand the “Bob” (or “Jack” or “Doug” or “Murray” or “Floyd” or whatever they call it in your market), ask yourself this: if you were given your own radio station in a large media market, what kind of music would you play? Remember, your own likes and dislikes are irrelevant! You have to pick a format that will make you money. So, what do you do?

Country? Chances are, there’s already a station in youir area that caters to country fans.

Rap? Chances are there’s already a successful hip hop station.

Oldies? Classic rock? Easy listening? Again, there’s probably already a station catering to the crowd that likes those genres.

So, what’s left? How can you attract an audience if there’s already a station playing all the popular genres? Well, here’s an idea: why not try to position yourself as the compromise/consensus station, by playing a wide enough variety of styles to appeal to a LOT of people?

For instance, in an office where there are 25 people of several different races, ranging from 19-45, it could be very tough to find a radio station that pleases everybody. The 40+ white guys may want classic rock, the black guys may want an R & B station, a few people may want country, the younger employees may want Top 40, etc. The “Bob” format plays JUST enough of each groups favorite songs to keep everybody happy (or at least, to keep them from screaming “change the station!”).

Similarly, if a family of (40 year old Mom & Dad, 17 year old son, 13 year old daughter) are driving in the car together, “Bob” might be the only station they can all agree to listen to- it plays just enough Aerosmith for Dad, just enough Whitney Houston for Mom, just enough Christina Aguilera for daughter, and just enough Nickelback for son.

There is a story told about famous wise old ugly man, call him George Bernard Shaw, and beautiful young airhead socialite, call her Lady Tweed-Willikins. Lady Tweed gushes over Shaw and thinks about the babies they could make with his brains and her looks. Ah, but Shaw says, what if the baby has your brains and my looks?

This is the real problem. Who really likes somebody else’s cross-genre mix tape? I’ve tried listening to my local station, called Fickle because even they don’t know what they’ll be playing next (hah), but I find that if I do like a song I don’t care for the next ten.

My prediction: 90% of these stations will have changed format by this time next year.

I’m *so * glad that I don’t care about pop music anymore and listen only to NPR (almost no commercials!) whenever I’m in the car. At home I listen to one of the cable classical music stations while working. And if I really want to get funky (as you young kids say these days) I listen to the cable classic rock station.

I hate commercials!

In a related vein, do any of you guys listen to VH1Classic on digital cable/satellite? The play mostly 80’s stuff and the day is broken up (usually) into hour-long programs with a loose theme that ties it together.

Anyway, my point is this. The program basically runs with three videos, a commercial break of some sort, three or four more videos, and so on. I’ve found that if I like the first song, I’m likely to like every song they play until the next break. Then, the next song is hit or miss. If it hits, I like all the songs in the next set. If it misses, I won’t like any of the songs coming up and I change the channel. I don’t know how they manage this, but I’ve thought it’s been a brilliant programming strategy.

Heh. The Springfield station that recently went to “Jack FM” (actually it’s called “Abe FM” here; it’s Springfield, figure it out) is now on its fourth format since going live. First it was an all 80’s station, then a country station, then a “soft hits” station, and now a no-format station.

All of this may be true, but none of it explains why all these stations have just popped up recently.

Did it only finally dawn on someone to try it?

The 80’s are CLASSIC?!? You have got to be kidding me…

Or is that the era of “classic” VH1? :wink:

If I heard the story correctly there’s a market research firm that developed the concept (IIRC in Florida) and has been agressively promoting the ‘Jack’ meme to station owners as a cost-savings method. Then it snowballed.

Me? XM folks. XM.

Hey, I didn’t name the channel. That’s just what they called it.

I figure that there’s a bunch of stuff out there aimed at us folks in the mid-30’s, so 80’s music has that nostalgia flavor.

HeyHomie, what station is it?

I grew up in Jacksonville. My family still lives there. When I’m in the area, I usually listen to 100.5. I just checked their website, and they still list themselves as classic rock.

On a side note, has 100.5 always been WYMG? I thought 100.5 used to be WDBR. Did some stations there swap frequencies? Or did I swap memories with someone who listens to top-40?

The new “no format” station is 93.9 FM; I don’t know the call letters.

WYMG Classic Rock has always been 100.5, since the mid 70’s and possibly earlier. WDBR has been a top-40 station, at 103.7.

Fickle (I’m in Rochester if that’s your Fickle) really bothers me. You’re absolutely right about the one good song and the next ten suck. I was in a grocery store that had Fickle blaring.

First song I heard: Weezer - Say It Ain’t So. Woo! Yeah! Great song!

The next five were various forms of 80s hair rock and pop divas. It was torture.

By the way, if you’re in Rochester, have you noticed that 100.5 now promotes themselves as a station that plays “Whatever” (just like Fickle), but didn’t change their playlist at all? OK, maybe they added a few mid-90s alternative tracks like stuff from Green Day’s Dookie and “Blister in the Sun” of all songs, but it’s basically the same.

I love it… :eek:

So far in Florida (at least in the Orlando market), we don’t have any Jack-FM sorts of stations that I know of.

In Philly area, it is Ben-FM. The only voice you hear is recordings of the guy who played J. Peterson Seinfeld.

No format. No Dj’s.

Most radio outlets are owned by parent companies. “The Point” is another station whose parent company broadcasts in most major areas.