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Roll Over Chuck Berry: Oldies Radio Moves Into the '70s
TBO ^ | 10/31/03 | Jonathan Salant

Posted on 10/31/2003 11:52:53 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - One of the surest ways to feel older is to listen to the radio and hear songs from your childhood - or, even worse, your adulthood - described as "oldies." If over the years it seems those songs have gotten newer while you've gotten older, it's not your imagination. Oldies radio stations that once featured songs from the 1950s and '60s now play songs from the '70s.

"Radio is an ever-changing thing, especially an oldies station," said Jeff Gold, a 44-year-old DJ whose build and voice personify his station's call letters, WBIG.

"As the years go by, newer songs become oldies. That's just the nature of the beast," said Gold, known as "Goldy" to his listeners in the Washington area.

So roll over Chuck Berry and make way for Fleetwood Mac. Your music hasn't lost its appeal to listeners. But advertisers? That's another story.

Advertisers covet the 25-to-54 age group. The first baby boomers - the generation born right after World War II and the primary audience for oldies music - are pushing 60.

"This is Marketing 101," said Dick Bartley, who hosts two nationally syndicated oldies programs, "Rock & Roll's Greatest Hits" and "American Gold." "The oldies format is doing what every business has to do - follow your demographic."

So as radio stations seek to attract advertisers, it's increasingly difficult for fans of 1950s and early '60s rock to find those tunes on the dial. A study by Coleman, a North Carolina media research firm, found the vast majority of oldies stations in the 50 largest markets are playing more modern music than they did three years ago.

"The only reason that our oldies stations have moved into the late '60s and '70s is the advertisers are telling us we have to do it in order for them to place business on our radio stations," said Marty Thompson, operations manager at KQOL in Las Vegas and director of oldies programming for Clear Channel, the nation's largest chain with 1,200 stations, including WBIG.

The oldies format began in the early 1970s, as then-less-popular FM stations tried to distinguish themselves from the Top 40 AM giants, according to E. Alvin Davis, a Cincinnati-based radio consultant who specializes in oldies stations. Among the earliest: WCAU-FM (now WOGL-FM) in Philadelphia and WCBS-FM in New York City.

By the '80s, almost every major city had a full-time oldies station. In recent years, the industry definition of oldies changed to include all of the '70s.

"As with the format when it originally came about, the whole genesis was to play music that was older," said Tim Maranville, program director at KOOL in Phoenix and vice president for oldies programming at Infinity Broadcasting, which owns 120 stations. "These songs are growing into our format. As an oldies person, the '70s don't bother me because there was some wonderful music in the '70s."

But the newer music has turned off some longtime listeners. Indeed, a new study by Coleman found oldies fans abandoning stations in direct proportion to the amount of '70s music on the air.

That includes people like Joe Barnard, 61, of Fairfax Station, Va., who said he now listens to compact discs or cassette tapes because he can't hear '50s songs on the radio.

"I have nothing against '70s music," he said. "It's just not the music I'm interested in hearing. My real interest in music began in the '50s. I still want to hear '50s music."

Jenny McCaw, 54, of Alexandria, Va., agreed. "The Eagles are a good group, but they're not '50s and they're not old enough to be oldies," she said.

Alan Lee hosts a Sunday evening '50s program on Baltimore oldies station WQSR and owns record stores in Silver Spring, Md., and Baltimore that specialize in oldies music. He said there still is a market for traditional oldies because, "For whatever reason, people tend to be fond of music that was popular when they were teenagers."

One byproduct of the trend toward newer oldies is the return of '50s and '60s music to AM radio, which played those songs when they were new. At least seven AM stations around the country, from Buffalo, N.Y., to Portland, Ore., are trying this format. Cincinnati's "real oldies" station uses the same call letters - WSAI - and some of the DJs from its days as a Top 40 station four decades earlier.

"We don't pretend that these AM oldies stations are going to beat the FM oldies station," program director Dan Allen said. "Our goal is simply to provide a solid audience. Since this music was on AM originally, we decided to give this a try."


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: music; oldies
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1 posted on 10/31/2003 11:52:53 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I'm really felt old when I heard "an oldie from the '90s".
2 posted on 10/31/2003 11:55:29 AM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
let's just hope they skip the Disco era
3 posted on 10/31/2003 11:56:19 AM PST by camle (no fool like a damned fool)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
No!!!! The 50's and 60's. THAT was music. Can't stand the "music" of my generation. BTW, does anyone think that rap and hard rock will ever be called "Golden Oldies"?
4 posted on 10/31/2003 11:56:53 AM PST by WinOne4TheGipper (Using Occam's Razor to shave the hairy beast of liberalism...)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I noticed this the other day at work. A guy I work with was listening to the oldies station whose logo was "The best of the 60's and 70's". I distinctly remember my parents listening to the same station years ago and all they played was 50's music.

I guess the times they are a changing.
5 posted on 10/31/2003 11:57:18 AM PST by Sabretooth (I'm not SabERtooth, Im SabREtooth.)
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To: camle
Amen to that.
6 posted on 10/31/2003 11:58:44 AM PST by WinOne4TheGipper (Using Occam's Razor to shave the hairy beast of liberalism...)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
In the late 60s and early 70s, the oldies stations played songs from the middle fifties. These songs were from 12 to 18 years old.

So now we should be playing music from the 80s!
7 posted on 10/31/2003 11:59:24 AM PST by proxy_user
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To: Semper Paratus
But you know what say, it's not the years, it's the mileage :)
8 posted on 10/31/2003 11:59:59 AM PST by mewzilla
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
70s?! Last time I popped on an oldies station (probably 2 maybe 3 years ago) they played "White Wedding" and "Boys of Summer", the 80s are now oldies.
9 posted on 10/31/2003 12:00:28 PM PST by discostu (You figure that's gotta be jelly cos jam just don't shake like that)
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To: Semper Paratus
This format might be fine IF they would go beyond the one hit that was on any given album. Remember it used to be album rock, right?
10 posted on 10/31/2003 12:00:41 PM PST by gathersnomoss
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To: will1776
With the passing of Richard Rogers, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen etc. there's been no good music. The music of my generation (U2 to grunge) just plain sucks and what has come after that is pure aural feces.

I'm in a good mood today.

11 posted on 10/31/2003 12:02:45 PM PST by Jim Cane
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To: will1776
Hard rock is already being called "golden oldies", at least when it's hard rock by Led Zepplin. Soon the early days of rap will be on the oldies stations, it's hitting that age, wonder if they'll play "Parents just Don't Understand" I always liked that song.
12 posted on 10/31/2003 12:03:01 PM PST by discostu (You figure that's gotta be jelly cos jam just don't shake like that)
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To: will1776
Can't stand the "music" of my generation. BTW, does anyone think that rap and hard rock will ever be called "Golden Oldies"?

That's now considered Classic Rock(although Bob Segar is on the oldies station too). I hear Metallica, Motley Crue, and the Black Crowes right along the stanbys of AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Beatles(usually Sgt Pepper onwards) and Rolling Stones.

13 posted on 10/31/2003 12:04:21 PM PST by Dan from Michigan (Don't blame me. I voted for Rocky.)
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To: Sabretooth
The oldies station in Atlanta went to a rap format about a year ago, leaving this poor 'boomer without any FM oldies station anywhere on the dial.

Thankfully, our little AM 1240 station in Brevard, NC ("The White Squirrel Station") plays real oldies every day. I even heard "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" the other day, from the early fifties.

They also play jazz, big bands, bluegrass, "make believe ballroom" dance music, and some really nice accoustic stuff that can't be categorized. But NEVER a rap song.

It's what radio should be.

14 posted on 10/31/2003 12:04:30 PM PST by snopercod (My Indian name is "Runs With Chainsaw".)
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To: will1776
It will happen. Bet on it. But there will likely be different levels of "oldies," even as there is now. The most ancient "oldies" station in Dallas plays a mixture of '40s Big Band tunes and '50s and '60s pop music, like Pat Boone and Patti Page, and not early rock or R&B. Other "oldies" clienteles exist for '50s and '60s rock, old Nashville country music, etc. By 2025, Sinatra and the Glen Miller Band will be all but unobtainable commercially, but songs by Britney Spears and Cristina Agulera will be regarded as "oldies."
15 posted on 10/31/2003 12:05:43 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: proxy_user
So now we should be playing music from the 80s!

Please no! Anything but that! Arghhhh!

16 posted on 10/31/2003 12:06:40 PM PST by alnick (Pray that God will grant wisdom to American voters.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
In the 50's and early '60s, "oldies" were Lawrence Welk (whenever written-- gagh!) and stuff from the '30s and '40s -- great stuff, swing, boogey-woogey, popular jazz, but not so much heard on radio. We had to actually find our parents' old 78's and transcribe the tunes onto reel to reel tapes.

In the late '60's and '70's, it was '50's rock and roll as 'oldies' when modern rock (San Francisoo bands, Doors, Beatles, Stones, etc.) had taken over.

What I found curious is that my kids like the rock of my youth ('60s and early '70s) a lot better than current popular music.

I can't listen to pop music much at all these days, it gives me a headache.

17 posted on 10/31/2003 12:08:52 PM PST by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo [Gallia][Germania][Arabia] Esse Delendam --- Select One or More as needed)
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To: gathersnomoss
Whoa, this is beginning to sound like an all geezer all the time radio love fest. You know most of you already have most if not all of the catalog of music that you like in one form (8-Track) or another.

Who listens to the radio for music anyway?
18 posted on 10/31/2003 12:08:56 PM PST by gathersnomoss
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To: will1776
I was in a Department store a couple of years ago and was humming along to muzak when I realized what was playing...

Sweet Child of Mine by G&R. Had an "how old am I" attack right then and there.

19 posted on 10/31/2003 12:09:04 PM PST by Anitius Severinus Boethius
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To: snopercod
They also play jazz, big bands, bluegrass, "make believe ballroom" dance music, and some really nice accoustic stuff that can't be categorized. But NEVER a rap song.

I'm moving to SC! That's how radio should be. You should be able to hear everything from country to motown to jazz to movie overtures or the latest pop. I understand that many radio stations were like that in the '60's. Louis Armstrong followed by the Beatles, followed by Marty Robbins...what a concept!

The world's gone to hell, arrgh!

20 posted on 10/31/2003 12:11:13 PM PST by Jim Cane
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To: gathersnomoss
Remember it used to be album rock, right?

circa 1969 -"Tonight on the Spriritus Cheese hour, the new album from Cream, Disrealis Gears".

21 posted on 10/31/2003 12:11:55 PM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: gathersnomoss
This format might be fine IF they would go beyond the one hit that was on any given album. Remember it used to be album rock, right?

Had a classic rock station in Midland that played the same 12 songs over and over and over.....Classic rock isn't a small genre. It's hard to screw it up that bad. But they did....my favorite genre--I wound up listening to the "alternative rock" station. At least they'd play songs that I never heard before....

22 posted on 10/31/2003 12:13:00 PM PST by stands2reason (REWARD! Tagline missing since 10/21. Pithy, clever. Last seen in Chat. Sentimental value.)
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To: Wallace T.
Not only will Britney and Cristina be regarded as oldies, there will be people then the same age you are now loudly proclaiming that there hasn't been any listenable music made since Britney and Cristina retired.

It's inevitable.
23 posted on 10/31/2003 12:13:28 PM PST by discostu (You figure that's gotta be jelly cos jam just don't shake like that)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
In most of the years when I was in radio, an oldie was anything that wasn't either a current or a "re-current." A "current" was a hit at that moment. A "re-current" was a big hit that had slipped off the charts and had been "rested" a bit and added back in. Most re-currents were anywhere from 6-12 months old. Anything else was a "golden" or "oldie."

What oldie stations in many markets have done is simply strip out all the currents and re-currents and play everything else. Others have picked a couple of decades each, so in any of the fairly large markets, you'll have one station playing 50's/60's, another doing just the 70's, one doing the 80's/90's, and mebbe one doing Disco - which has a lot bigger following that the snobs tink. Disco may have a mindless connotation, but it was FUN.

You go to any of the top 20 markets and you'll find several oldies stations, each catering to a different era. Or decade.

Michael

24 posted on 10/31/2003 12:13:52 PM PST by Wright is right! (Never get excited about ANYTHING by the way it looks from behind.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
"For whatever reason, people tend to be fond of music that was popular when they were teenagers."

That does not apply to me.

25 posted on 10/31/2003 12:14:21 PM PST by Tribune7 (It's not like he let his secretary drown in his car or something.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Nah, it's happened. Early 80's rock and new wave now have that nostalgic, good old days feel to them. In fact, it will soon be cherished as the last days of real songs, real musicians, real playing, etc., when performers actually smiled and didn't scowl and roar at how horrible life is.

Around the turn of the nineties came Kurt Cobain, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Pearl Jam -- the onset of the hate era. Same with R&B, too: early 80's rap was actually fun -- Run DMC, LL Cool J, etc., then the gangster misery took over. Sad.
26 posted on 10/31/2003 12:15:04 PM PST by Jhensy
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I noticed this a few years back. The 'oldies' station became 'hits of the 70's and 80's' And the 'oldies' were gone. Found them later on AM. And I remember that the music of the 30's used to be on AM and it was pushed off. Soon the 'oldies' will be gone, replaced by 70's and 80's and todays noise will be called classic. In the end the cream rises to the top and we only remember the best of each era. Motzart, Bach, Jelly Roll, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis, The beatles, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, etc.
27 posted on 10/31/2003 12:15:08 PM PST by bird4four4
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Doo-wop!
28 posted on 10/31/2003 12:16:20 PM PST by beelzepug ("As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!!")
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To: will1776
The day they start playing rap music in stores will be the day I either buy everything over the internet, or get some really good earplugs. I can just see trying to buy some clothes in the local mall while being serenaded by "Pimp Daddy Bling Bling and the Hoe Dawgs" playing their smash hit "I'm gonna punk your white @$$, you honky ba$tard!"

I recently walked out of a "hairstyle salon" (remember barber shops?) when they started playing rap on the stereo. I just cannot stand that hateful, racist, degenerate and despicable "music". I go from being in a good mood to being ready to punch people in about sixty seconds flat. Rap is "music" made by and for evil racists who hate music, hate life and hate white people, and I despise it with every bone in my body.
29 posted on 10/31/2003 12:17:52 PM PST by Elliott Jackalope (We send our kids to Iraq to fight for them, and they send our jobs to India. Now THAT'S gratitude!)
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To: will1776
does anyone think that rap and hard rock will ever be called "Golden Oldies"?

Not soon enough!

30 posted on 10/31/2003 12:18:57 PM PST by GSWarrior
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To: gathersnomoss
I'm only 19. God put me in this generation as a cruel joke.
31 posted on 10/31/2003 12:20:18 PM PST by WinOne4TheGipper (Using Occam's Razor to shave the hairy beast of liberalism...)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

yes.jpg (7562 byte)

32 posted on 10/31/2003 12:22:09 PM PST by Incorrigible
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To: discostu
Not only will Britney and Cristina be regarded as oldies, there will be people then the same age you are now loudly proclaiming that there hasn't been any listenable music made since Britney and Cristina retired.

It's inevitable.

"for me there is only Beethoven." ~ Brahms.

33 posted on 10/31/2003 12:22:20 PM PST by Jim Cane ("I've always lived twice." ~ Dr. Sarcophogus.)
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To: Jim Cane
Exactly.
34 posted on 10/31/2003 12:24:16 PM PST by discostu (You figure that's gotta be jelly cos jam just don't shake like that)
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To: Elliott Jackalope
Rap is "music" made by and for evil racists who hate music, hate life and hate white people, and I despise it with every bone in my body.

I got in a biiiig hairy argument with mhking about this. Rap people get real sensitive when you point out that the genre is truly evil.

Some days you just can't tell people the truth.

35 posted on 10/31/2003 12:24:16 PM PST by freedumb2003 (Peace through Strength)
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To: freedumb2003
The genre isn't evil. There's a small (though currently very popular) section that's all messed up and stupid and violent. The roots of rap are in comedy music though, and with the recent resurgence of Run DMC it just might be going back that way. There's some really brilliant witty lyrics in the 80s, it's gone off in a strange direction but luckily for the genre the people pushing it in that direction keep killing each other.
36 posted on 10/31/2003 12:27:07 PM PST by discostu (You figure that's gotta be jelly cos jam just don't shake like that)
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To: Incorrigible

 

 

37 posted on 10/31/2003 12:28:18 PM PST by Incorrigible
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To: bird4four4
The 'oldies' station became 'hits of the 70's and 80's' And the 'oldies' were gone. Found them later on AM.

It makes sense seeing as how most of the songs before 1970 were recorded in mono anyway.

38 posted on 10/31/2003 12:31:19 PM PST by dfwgator (All I want for Christmas is Ron Zook's firing (I'll remove this tag if we beat UGA))
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To: Jhensy
My son(15) went through a Nirvana stage but now he thinks their music and others like it is "depressing crap". He likes the new punk pop bands as well as the old ones, especially the Ramones. He also likes the White Stripes. I don't listen to all the lyrics to the songs but they do seem to be more lighthearted and upbeat. I worry about punk rock but I am eternally thankful that he hates rap.

I've also noticed the new band, Kings of Leon, look like they are straight out of the seventies.

Oh, and he thinks Simon and Garfunkle are the "coolest thing ever" so maybe there is hope that the "hate era" is fading.
39 posted on 10/31/2003 12:37:28 PM PST by gingerky
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Oldies But Goodies --- "mid 50's thur mid 70's period." What constitutes an oldie is not subject to democrat-style revisionism.

The Oldies belong to our (my) generation and there's no hijacking 'em. They're exclusively OUR songs, for OUR memories, and for the enjoyment of all generations.

If you can't remember the tragic plane crash that took the life's of Buddy Holly, Richie Valen and the Big-Bopper in Febuary of '59, or if you didn't run home from school to watch American Bandstand from Philly, then you're not a "oldie but goodie" original member in good standing. IMO, only.

Those Oldies But Goodies

Little Caesar and The Romans

(Words and Music by Paul Politti and Nick Curinga)

Those oldies but goodies reminds me of you The songs of the past bring back memories of you I always remember the first night we met The songs they were playing I never will forget

I always will treasure them so close to my heart They always will haunt me although we're apart Each time that I hear them a tear's bound to fall For I love those memories that I, I-I recall

Those oldies but goodies reminds me of you The songs of the past bring back memories of you Forever they will haunt me but what can I do?

Those oldies but goodies reminds me of <3 piano notes> you (Oldies but goodies reminds me of you)

SPOKEN:

"Yes, dear, they are playin' our songs. And they will always remain our songs. And each time you hear them, I hope you, too, will cherish the wonderful memories that our love once knew. For these songs are just a symbol of the love that I had for you."

Those oldies but goodies reminds me of you The songs of the past bring back memories of you Forever they will haunt me but what can I do?

Those oldies but goodies reminds me of <3 piano notes> you (Oldies but goodies reminds me of you)

40 posted on 10/31/2003 12:39:29 PM PST by onyx
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
The term "oldies" has always refered to music from late fifties through early seventies. It's short for the phrase "oldies but goodies."

I believe the term began in the mid-sixties. At that time, and it may be hard to believe now, an "oldie" was any song about two years old or older (but not older than mid-fifties).

For example, in 1967 a radio station would have an "all-oldies" weekend and play songs from 1956 to about 1965.

In those days, popular-music styles changed at a lightning speed compared to today.

41 posted on 10/31/2003 12:50:00 PM PST by Flashlight
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To: onyx
you're right. you posted while I was writing my post trying to say the same thing (see above).
42 posted on 10/31/2003 12:52:11 PM PST by Flashlight
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
An oldie for me has to be 1965 or before; not sure why but there it is.
43 posted on 10/31/2003 12:52:22 PM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Dan from Michigan
WRIF in Detroit is still spinning the same playlist as when I was in high school in the late 1970's. Seger, Nugent, ACDC, Zep, ZZ Top, Stones, Rockets, Cars, repeat repeat repeat. Going home is like stepping into a time warp. Is Arthur P still on the air or is he getting the pension now?
44 posted on 10/31/2003 12:52:53 PM PST by mitchbert (Facts are Stubborn Things)
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To: Flashlight
Great minds --- same page! Thanks so much for your ping!
45 posted on 10/31/2003 12:54:19 PM PST by onyx
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To: mitchbert
Arthur P is still on the air.
46 posted on 10/31/2003 12:56:01 PM PST by Dan from Michigan (Don't blame me. I voted for Rocky.)
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To: Flashlight
In those days, popular-music styles changed at a lightning speed compared to today.

Ain't that the truth?

47 posted on 10/31/2003 12:56:02 PM PST by dfwgator (All I want for Christmas is Ron Zook's firing (I'll remove this tag if we beat UGA))
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To: stands2reason
Had a classic rock station in Midland that played the same 12 songs over and over and over...


I think I can do you one better.


About ten years ago I was driving through Northeast Texas, and ran across a station that was playing only Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman. Every time it finished it would start up again -- with just an occasional break. The station even had a contest going on -- for the listeners to predict what time on the following Tuesday the continuous sequence would stop!


Never could figure out the real reason for the continuous play. My assumption is that they needed/wanted to keep a live signal broadcasting, so they found a way to keep something on the air. Maybe they were jost operating on a really tightbudget and could only afford one record in their library!

48 posted on 10/31/2003 12:59:38 PM PST by StevieB
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To: Flashlight; Chi-townChief
Ecxcellent web site for lyrics and the offical listing of all Top 100 songs by year, from '55 -'74 with a few from '53 and '54 thrown in for the 'older' folks.

http://www.webfitz.com/lyrics/index.html
49 posted on 10/31/2003 1:01:05 PM PST by onyx
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To: Jim Cane
"for me there is only Beethoven." ~ Brahms"

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone will be starring in a movie about Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.

Willis said he will play the part of Mozart, Stallone Beethoven, and Arnold says, "I'll be Bach"
50 posted on 10/31/2003 1:02:00 PM PST by M. Peach (eschew obsfucation)
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