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Subject: Radio "hits" stations over time?

Written By: Marty McFly on 05/31/07 at 1:09 am

This might seem like a silly question, but this occured to me right now about the advertisements of the format on given radio stations.

You know those Today's Hits Yesterday's Favorites ones that play newer songs mixed with more recent classics and maybe a few oldies? They'll usually say to the effect of, "Playing the greatest hits of the '80s, '90s and today!" Yet I have a tape of a 1994 station where they said the exact same phrase! I remember there were slightly more variety in '80s songs, and a little more '70s stuff at the time, but it basically was identical. ;)

Has it changed over the years at all? In other words, what would a station like that have played in the actual '80s? I imagine if they talked about '60s songs in their slogans, that would've already made them seem ancient. Was it more up to date then, since music isn't quite as trendy/fast-changing now?

Subject: Re: Radio "hits" stations over time?

Written By: AmericanGirl on 05/31/07 at 12:27 pm

My recollections regard the 70's "hits radio" listening experience.

During the 70's, Top 40 radio was the closest thing to what you might call "hits radio".  However, it was different.  Top 40 radio in the 70's didn't generally brag about playing songs from "yesterday".  Stations would often throw in a well-wearing gem from the past, maybe announcing it (ALA a jingle "time for our golden oldie") or maybe not.  Typically something like Beatles or Motown or Elvis monster hits, something well known and classic.  The Top 40 stations would slip these in periodically but didn't consider them a major part of their "format".  You see, at that time, the older rock songs just weren't as highly valued (at least that was the perception).

Of course  not all 70's radio stations were Top 40 - many were talk, many were niche music formats, perhaps Country or Soul/R&B.  Until the mid to late 70's, AM still ruled.

When the later 70's rolled around, Disco became so popular it "took over" so to speak.  It was around this time that radio formats just began the "splintering" phenomenon that occurred over the next several years.  FM radio began to overtake AM in popularity, and niche format music gained bigger and bigger followings, leaving "Top 40" AM radio in the dust.  This was compounded by the pro-Disco/anti-Disco factions that grew out of that period (IMO no music genre of the rock era had ever fostered as much animosity from the "young" generation until Disco came along).  On top of that, interest in nostalgia music, almost nonexistent when the 70's began, was becoming more common even among the young by the end of the 70's.

All this to say, the specific radio "hits" type station that you're speaking of, there wasn't really an equivalent I know of during the 70's (in any major sense - although some stations, especially in small markets or low budget FMs, might have tried it).

Subject: Re: Radio "hits" stations over time?

Written By: Marty McFly on 05/31/07 at 8:50 pm

Cool, that makes sense. I agree it seems like formats have gotten tighter and more restrictive over the years in what songs they'll play. I get the impression it was more "general" in terms of modern music you'd hear on one station, particularly in the pre-MTV era. Like the Rolling Stones could be followed by the Surpremes, etc.

Yeah, people were more exclusively current-minded back then, so I could see the older stuff getting kicked out (i.e. I'm sure 1963 was pretty old in 1973, at least in terms of being mixed in with the new stuff).

It's amazing how well the '80s have held on with being "current" in a format like that. Nowadays, I'd say those stations are heavily focued on modern songs, with lots of 1982+ stuff thrown in, and the select songs back to the early-mid '70s.

Subject: Re: Radio "hits" stations over time?

Written By: AmericanGirl on 06/02/07 at 11:00 am

Like the Rolling Stones could be followed by the Supremes, etc.

I'd say that was typical for Top 40 AM radio - in the 60's and early 70's, that seemed okay, or at least normal.

Like the Rolling Stones could be followed by the Supremes, etc.

Whadda you mean, didn't everybody love hearing Aerosmith's Dream On followed by Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby?    ;)

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