Saturday, April 28, 2012

REINVENTING LIGHT ADULT CONTEMPORARY RADIO

Adult contemporary radio is one those things about the industry that I have a love hate relationship with. Personally, I prefer the music on adult contemporary over country music radio and talk radio. My problem is the attitude and presentation. I could actually forget and enjoy the beauty of the softer rock/pop music, if it wasn't for the constant reminder that this radio station is programmed to reach an audience made up of uptight, prudish squares and snooty preppie dorks. The liners frequently contain a veiled attack another radio station (that skews to a younger audience) by announcing that they "don't play rap or heavy metal." The liners seem to promote the radio station as a form of white, up-class, middle-school conformity that preaches the values of being "family friendly" and "everyone at work can agree on." The hidden message is "The people who don't like this radio station are child molesters and drug addicts, who live off welfare and worship Satan."

The jingles on these radio stations feature syrupy arrangements with whispery singers. There also has for several years been a trend to have a song for the morning show with a whining male vocalist that sounds like it belongs on a Contemporary Christian station.  

There seems to be a "Little Miss Pris/mommy blogger" nature to many adult contemporary radio stations. Topics discussed by the morning shows and some of the on-air people seem to be about girls prom dresses being "too sexy," what cartoons are "bad" for your child or too much soda is "bad" for you. The rest of the time they promote that the website has photos of "cute kittens." As David Letterman might say, "You can insert your own 'pussy radio station' joke here."

Now there are some newer variations on the AC format coming along, which feature a more younger and hipper music mix. While I welcome this, there needs to be a "light" AC that aims at changing audience, as well as a "Hot AC." Most of the kind of radio stations I'm referring to are "light" AC and are stuck in the 80s and 90s, when the format was big. Most of the music hasn't changed, because that style of music is dying out (along with some of the performers). Much of the music you hear on these radio station belong to what I call the "ding-ding-ding" sound of the 80s and 90s pop music. Two perfect examples of this are "Hello" by Lionel Ritchie and "Saving All My Love For You" by Whitney Houston. these radio stations are stuck in the "Just Say No" era.

There are people, like myself, who would listen to a soft rock/pop station if it the presentation wasn't directed at a "proud to be square" audience and the music was changed to be more smooth and vibrant, less bland and lifeless. They want something like this for when, as Gilligan at Retrospace would say, they are "making pancakes."

    
Here are some changes I would make to the "light" AC format:

1. Imagining and Liners - More funky and less sappy. Jingles should have be sort r&b/smooth jazz influenced with horns, not syrup strings with singers that sound like they should be on a Contemporary Christian radio station.
Sample liners:
  • "Our radio station is like a night out with Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, the other radio stations are like listening to speeches by Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman."
  •  "This radio station doesn't believe that there is such a thing as a prom dress that is too sexy for school."
  •  "If you co-workers don't like this radio station, tell them to take a flying leap out a window."
  •  "The only thing better for your kids than listening to our radio station is letting them stay home from school to watch reruns of The Simpsons and Family Guy all day."
  • "We know that our listeners are usually busy. They have a wine cooler in one hand and a bong in the other, while they are trying to open a pack of condoms."
  • "This radio station promises not to offend African-Americans, Gays, Hispanics, Native Americans, Jews or Atheist, but we are going to try and get your grandma's panties in a wad."
2. Move away from core artist of the past AC (Michael Buble, Josh Grobain, John Denver, Barry Manilow, Whitney Houston) and go for the artist driven from classic rock radio for not being hard enough or at least add more classic rock and R&B artist. It is what the young generation calls "yacht rock." Throw in some smooth jazz instrumentals for measure. Sample playlist:
  •  "Wish You Were Here" Pink Floyd
  •  "Fall On Me" Pousette-Dart Band
  •  "Do It Again" Steely Dan
  •  "Fool In the Rain" Led Zeppelin
  •  "Special Lady" Ray Goodman and Brown
  •  "All Apologies" Nirvana
  •  "Come Softly To Me" Jane Oliver
  •  "Peaches En Regalia" Frank Zappa
  •  "Little Red Corvette" Prince
  •  "I'm Gonna Love You" Barry White
  •  "Jack & Jill" Raydio
  •  "Tangled Up In Blue" Bob Dylan
  •  "Year of the Cat" Al Stewart
3. In promotions, emphasis volunteering. You should give away prizes, but you should partner with a charity or volunteer organization, especially on remotes. Another thing is provide the audience with weather and news. Don't over do it, but the audience for a radio station like this will want to know what is going on. 
4. Make the morning show fun not a "cranky parent show." Find a host that is the caliber of David Letterman, Robin Williams or Bill Maher, not a wimpy hen-pecked husband who whines about there being "too much sex on TV." His female co-host should giggle at everything this guy says, but still be a person who the females in the audience will relate to. Also don't run down the artist being played. That defeats the purpose of playing them. Promote their concerts, appearances and music. Duh! Why can't modern radio stations do that the right way? Also don't insult or slam young people and children. Remember those people are the future of your radio station, if you insult them and run down the stuff they like will probably not listen to you in the future. This explains another reason that light AC is going away.

There is always room for a "light" radio station, but there needs to be revamping of the presentation and music. The people these radio stations tried to reach in the late 80s and 90s probably don't listen music radio anymore. They probably listen to the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity. So lets make a soft & light station for a fun crowd.

Of course, an opinion like these explain why I;m considered the Super-Villain of the Ozarks!!!! Mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

 

3 comments:

Sarah Moore said...

I am a big fan of Adult Contemporary music and the only radio station that plays a wide range of this music is 97.9 WRMF. I am also kept updated on the station’s latest promotions and community events. Visit their website for live streaming at www.wrmf.com .

Desdinova said...

Sarah, thanx for the comment! I'm familiar with that radio station in a very odd way. There is an atmospheric condition called "skip" in which a distant radio station can over ride the signal of one in another city. I work at a sports talk station, Jock 98.7. There have been times that 97.9 WRMF overrides our radio station and upsetting our testosterone-laden listeners.

That radio station is more of hot AC radio station and they are certainly do things right. I'm talking about a more "easy" AC. The programming style I'm talking about may be exclusive to this part of the country. People in the Ozarks take life way too seriously and a real downer.

Sean Prince said...

Being an ardent fan of Pop and Adult Contemporary music, Sunny 107.9 is always my first choice for non-stop entertainment. Whether in my car or at home I’m always tuned in and kept entertained by the stations great music. Stream online at www.sunny1079.com or tune in live.

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