Why no more 'ONLY oldies' stations?

The easy listening station around here is now a regional operation which plays really old stuff: Big Crosby, Patti Page, and moving ahead stuff from the 50s and 60s that is mellower. I never listened to it much as a younger person. But right now it is a great thing to listen to.


My point is that, today, the stations that play the modern version of oldies (stuff 30-40 years old) also play current hits. I don’t recall hearing any current (at the time) hits when it was the 50’s-60’s stations that were the oldies (i.e. targeted at people 30-50).

That sounds like the station I mentioned. They’ll play classic Beatles and Stones, stuff like you mentioned, along with some Eagles, Tom Petty, and Van Halen, and maybe some Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Pearl Jam.

In South Florida, over the air, there is an oldies station that plays tunes from the 50’s - some 70’s, a pretty big variety, and there’s a classic rock station. There’s also a lounge lizard kind of station, that plays Vegas Sinatra kind of stuff, which could be counted as oldies, I guess. Does a Spanish mariachi band station count as oldies? As opposed to modern Spanish language pop?

Most of the time, as I’ve driven across the country, I can pick up an oldies or classic rock radio station.

The sad part is all the ads for Viagra or Viagra substitutes, and for getting checked for Hep C. The soundtrack of youthful non-stop sex and rebellion has now become the soundtrack of impotent old age.

I was wondering the same thing about native American drum music, which I caught on several public radio stations out West last month (which I listened to for a song or two because hey, better than country.) I don’t know how popular that style of music is but I could tell the recordings were old because of the vinyl pops. I was wondering if today’s youth think of it more like classical, or oldies, or think of it as current (that can obviously differ between youths and tribes.)

The “classic rock” stations that I have listened to (both here in Phoenix and back in Philadelphia) never play current hits (unless by a “classic rock” artist). There are a few stations that play current music that seem to have a tendency to play old Dave Matthews and Red Hot Chili Peppers on occasion, but no other old stuff.

Kankakee’s WVLI plays a little bit of everything from the Forties to the Nineties with vintage top 40 countdowns on Saturdays, starting at 4PM Eastern. I listen to their Internet feed while working.

Oh, and there’s WARE up in Massachusetts. Their AM station plays some really obscure stuff from the Fifties & Sixties, at least they used to.

If you live in Fort Worth, I assume you listen to 92.5? They kind of go on little jags of playing one band or another, but they still play a pretty large amount of Beatles, old Elton John, 38 special, etc… They’ve only recently moved into playing stuff like GnR and some lighter stuff I wouldn’t have even called rock- ISTR them playing some 80s pop band like Simple Minds a few weeks back. (maybe they are rock, but not in the ‘classic’ vein)

If this discussion is to mean anythiing, we should narrow our terms. Traditionally, as pointed out by Tired and Cranky, “Oldies” radio meant rock-era hits from the 50s and 60s, maybe a few from the 70s but nothing newer. Much of this music had vanished from the airwaves by 1968: the ascendent FM rock stations considered it quaint and if played at all, you were encouraged to keep an ironic distance (Sha Na Na) or sneer at it as a product of plastic consumerism (Frank Zappa).

But absence makes the heart grow fonder, and by the early 70s there was a general reconsideration of the merits of a less self-conscious sort of music than what album rockers like the Doors or James Taylor were serving up. The success of American Graffiti in 1973 certainly helped spawn the rise of the “all-oldies” format, and most markets had at least one station promoting this stuff exclusively, and aside from the nostalgia audience, it drew in some younger listeners who had lost their (rather unfair) resistance to the older commercial sounds and were eager to find out where all this rock ‘n’ roll / r’n’b stuff came from anyway.

Where did oldies radio go? I can’t say, but I do know that certain songs got played into the ground: “Blue Moon” by the Marcels, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon, “Get a Job”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Runaround Sue” - all great songs the first time you hear them. But by only playing the top chartbusters, this format got stale pretty fast. Perhaps if they had broadened their scope - you can find college radio shows with titles like “Lost and Found” that make it pretty clear there was a lot more going on in the era than the 50,000th airing of “Love Me Tender” would have you believe.

Okay, that helps explain why oldies stations died out. I didn’t keep track of them since I was doing current hits after I left home, so didn’t notice them dying out.

Back to the original issue, it sounds like I need to clarify my language and lay out my assumptions.
[li]As I understand it, most media tends to target people 30-50[/li][li]When I was a kid this market favored “oldies” (50’s-70’s) so many radio stations played exclusively oldies.[/li][li]People like the music, movies and other cultural bits that were common when they were in their teens[/li][li] So, the 30-50 year old market would be targetted with music from the 80’s through early 2000’s[/li][li] Following this pattern the most common radio stations would play music from 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s [/li][li] Almost all the radio stations I’ve encountered that play a mix of 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s also include many mainstream current hits in their regular playlists. [/li][/ul]

I should also note here, that this isn’t any sort of a complaint. This change is a strong blow against nostalgia and that ‘the good old days’ BS.

Well, yes. But there’s a point where The Beatles stops being oldies and begins being classic rock. 92.5 seems to think that’s at Revolver, and I kind of agree. I haven’t heard them play anything earlier than that unless it was on one of the Sunday morning programs devoted to the history of them. They’ve been playing stuff like GnR for around a decade now. They’ve been playing light rock from that era for even longer.

But, as dstarfire has clarified, they’re looking for songs from the 80s-naughties, not the 50s/early 60s definition of oldies. In this case, 92.5 seems to qualify, even if they’re about a decade and a half behind.

So, they’re in the large markets, kind of?

I agree - get off my lawn! Don’t lean on my Ford Torino!

I still have many of the old albums but I have to admit - there was a whole lotta drek “music” from the psychedelic/great folk scare era.

I think I get what you are looking for now. You are asking why there are no radio formats that play only 20-40 year old music with no newer and contemporary music.

I think you are mostly finding “adult hits” stations, which play adult contemporary, pop, and rock songs from the 1970s to today. (Adult hits - Wikipedia)

You might also be finding “active rock” stations, which play rock songs from the mid-1970’s to today (Active rock - Wikipedia)

You don’t seem interested in “classic rock” stations, which only play songs from the late-1960’s to the late 1980’s. (Classic rock - Wikipedia). I think these are the true spiritual successors to yesterday’s oldies stations.

I think the radio format that most closely matches what you are looking for is apparently called, in the U.S. at least, “mainstream rock,” and which plays predominantly classic rock songs from the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s. (Mainstream rock - Wikipedia). This format doesn’t seem to include music from the early 2000s, but at some point, the already fine distinction between “mainstream rock” and “active rock” would be almost entirely wiped away if mainstream rock started playing stuff from just a few years ago.

True… stations are more… blended than they used to be, even in the “Classic Rock” arena.

I sort of wonder if that’s because radio music seems to have stagnated somewhat since grunge sort of faded away. I mean, you could play most pop songs from around the turn of the millenium today and they wouldn’t be entirely out of place on top 40 radio and vice-versa. Which is not something you could say about 1988 and 1998 or 1978 and 1988.

So as a result, what’s “current” music is perceived as a larger category than in years past where you had distinct categories on the radio of 50s music, 60s music, 70s music/disco, 80s music, grunge, and then… more or less what we have now. I couldn’t tell you what would clearly separate say… Britney Spears or Ricky Martin from say… Rihanna or Katy Perry in terms of musical era, despite there being about a decade in between.

And as people age, this sort of recent 20 year stagnation has sort of compressed what is “old” into anything prior to about 1997, so radio stations are following suit. And it’s why you don’t see say… “90s” music as a separate callout; it’s lumped in with the 70s and 80s, because the first 2/3 of the decade is "old’, while the latter 3-4 years are where the stagnation began. Same with the oughties- there is no clearly defining characteristic versus pre-2000 or post-2010 radio music.

Portland, OR has KISN 95.1 FM, real golden oldies with no modern music. It’s my driving music of choice.

I would argue that there are more than few people who grew up listening to music in the 80s and 90s tend to think of themselves as younger than they actually are, and therefore have seemingly existential crises when the music of their upbringing is now deemed “Oldies” or “Classic Rock” and therefore the blended 80s, 90s, 00s, and today makes them feel as if their music is more current than it actually is ;).

Time for the comeback tour of Gerry and the Pacemakers. :wink:

When I was still occasionally listening to the DC-area classic rock station (up to maybe 3 years ago), they seemed to have just discovered Nirvana, along with a few other 1990s bands. Before maybe 7-8 years ago (guesstimating), they were strictly late 1960s through late 1980s.

It was a very white format, too: the only black artist they played, AFAICT, was Jimi Hendrix. Top 40 in the mid-1960s was way more integrated.

But I wanna hear “Stairway to Heaven” and “Layla” a few thousand more times. :frowning: