Why no more 'ONLY oldies' stations?

I remember growing up there were lots of radio stations that targetting my parents generation by playing ONLY stuff from the 50’s-70’s years ago (at the time). However, every radio station in my area that (that includes older pop in their playlists) is always some variation of ‘hits of the 80’s, 90’s, and today’.

Is my generation (and all the later ones, presumably) more accepting of new music than the previous one? Was there a major shift in music styles in the 70’s and 80’s? or is there a more prosaic explanation?

Note: I’m ignoring online radio stations here, simply because it’s so cheap and easy to create virtual radio stations or playlists.

Because advertisers don’t want to advertise to only old folks. They don’t spend enough.

Plus that demographic keeps dying off, necessitating constant updates to the range of material aired.

Need for constant updates doesn’t seem to bother other types of stations, does it? Maybe I’m missing something important.

Does Sirius/XM 50’s on 5 channel count? I don’t listen to them exclusively, but they primarily play 50’s music.

There are a number of oldies stations on Sirius. 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. Classic Vinyl. Those are the ones I notice. Also an Elvis channel, a Jimmy Buffet channel, Beatles, and I don’t know who else.

And none of them have advertising.

However, for the OP it’s certainly place-dependent. My city has an oldies station. I assume that lots of other cities do as well.

Also consider the definition of “oldies”, “classic rock”, etc changes as we age. Upon hearing Guns And Roses on a Classic Rock Station a few years ago. I was reminded of how old I am.

We have a few Classic Rock stations, that play music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s mostly, with some from the 50s thrown in for good measure. Classic Rock is the new Oldies.

all CBS radio stations were robo oldies stations a few years ago ……but yeah the 60s hard rock and 70s music are grandpas music now
I mean the first ramones album is almost 50………… 80s and 90s are getting old enough to play on k-earth 101 (supposedly the original oldies station )

I think it’s actually the reverse- that younger generations are more accepting of older music than previous generations were. My son and his friends listen to music that goes as far back as at least 1970, 20 years before he was born. I don’t know any of my contemporaries who regularly listen to music that was popular 20 years before we were born - they might like a few songs or a particular singer from that time, but they wouldn’t listen to a radio station that played only '40s music.

In my market there are two “oldies” stations. One plays “classic rock” from 1970s to mid eighties, the other plays “new rock” from mid eighties to mid 2000s. Rare to hear anything new on either. That’s just the two that I’m aware of, maybe there are others playing other stuff but that’s what I listen to when my local NPR station goes to jazz.

This is a valid point. The Beatles are still popular with young people today; it’s the equivalent of young people listening to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” on old wax cylinders in the 60s.*

*Yes, some people liked that music even then, but it was not on the radio.

Well, the funny thing about that is, even the Beatles aren’t on the radio as much as they once were. I live in a fairly large radio market, and the last “Oldies” station on FM (meaning 50’s-early/mid 60’s rock n’ roll) changed formats at least 10 years ago. You can hear that kind of stuff on the radio still, but it’s on specialty shows from stations that have varied formats. I’m honestly more likely to hear Howlin’ Wolf on my drive into work than pre-Revolver Beatles at this point. Even 70’s classic rock is getting pretty thin on the vine.

Yes, I listen to what my brother refers to as “poor people radio”, terrestrial signals. I figure that’s what being asked about. My commute is an hour each way, and I spin the dial randomly often. Even in my area, there’s not much market for programming that old. Oldies is limited to the late 60’s at this point, and the stations trying to limit their format to retro hip-hop are starting to pop up. Time marches on.

Our local classic rock station seems to run heavily on Def Leppard.

I would guess that another factor is that unlike oldies, new artists’ music is being pushed by record companies with [del]payola[/del] promotional considerations.

I think these are the answers. “Oldies” isn’t music X number of years old; it is pop music from the '50s and '60s. People don’t want to advertise to that demographic anymore so I’m guessing those stations are dying out along with their audience. The replacement formats are “classic rock.” That label doesn’t turn off people who think of “oldies” stations as belonging to a generation older than them.

I haven’t heard of “new rock” as a category but River Hippie’s description makes sense to appeal to somewhat younger consumers who are already recognize that “classic rock” appeals to people at least half a generation older than they are.

I don’t know what the next old people’s music format will be called but I will bet that it won’t be called either “classic rock” or “new rock.”

It will be called "Real Music - Not that Racket You Listen To, Dammit!’


I grew up in the 80s. I remember “Classic rock” stations were playing stuff from up to the late 70s which were so different stylistically from then-contemporary music, i.e. New Wave, post-punk, synth-pop, etc. that it seemed like it was from an era long, long ago, even though it may have been brand new just a few years back.

We’ve got what amount to three different FM oldies stations in D/FW. Four at one point even.

We have:

[li]The oldies station - they advertise as 60s, 70s and 80s music. [/li][li]The “Jack” station- they say they play whatever they want, but in practice, it’s heavily slanted toward the 1980s-1990s top 40 hits, including some grunge. [/li][li]The classic rock station- 1960s through early 1990s for the most part; I’ve heard 1991’s “November Rain” by GnR on there a time or two, but most of their playlist is the usual Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet, Queen, The Who, Beatles, etc… They do play some 80s stuff like GnR and Def Leppard, but probably at half the rate that they play the 70s and early 80s stuff. They also occasionally play some grunge stuff from the 1990s as well. [/li][/ul]

The 1970s seem to be a underrepresented time period, except for the classic rock station, which seems to be mostly centered in about 1978, I think.