By Sean Ross (@rossonradio)
Week one was the major-market success stories, including the rise of the once-politically-untenable “Cubaton” format in Miami.
Week two went for some of the year’s more eclelctic offerings, as well as the online innovation of Spotify Discover Weekly.
Week three belongs to the readers. These are their choices for “Intriguing Stations of 2016,” including, sometimes, their own.
Some of the reader picks are stations that have likely become familiar to ROR readers over the years. But the “Intriguing Stations” list isn’t just for new launches. Even though it’s in my backyard, I came back to WGHT (North Jersey 1500) for the first time in a while, just as reader Tony Petrone wrote in on their behalf, and was glad I had. For readers, there were also a few definite sins of omission this year:
“How does it go unnoticed that Ellen K beat Ryan Seacrest 6-plus regularly [during] her first year on KOST Los Angeles … in a story on AC radio?” – Roy Laughlin, Los Angeles. (Ed note: Roy is not a disinterested observer in Ellen K’s career, but KOST and its morning show, as well as the successful updating of what was once a very conservative AC brand, is certainly a story that I should have followed more closely.)
“It’s hilarious that people obsess about Live 99.9 [South Bend] and the fact they “publicized and hit the ground running” yet our Rock 97.7 [WYXX] just appeared and magically had a much stronger first book than the one that ‘hit the ground running.’ Sometimes too much anticipation only leads to epic disappointment.” – Dave O’Connor, Artistic Meda, South Bend, Ind.
“Australian digital station OMG! http://www.myomgradio.com.au/ plays,’everything you were least expecting’ with a fair amount of similarity to Jack FM in my mind. Also, OldSkool http://www.oldskoolradio.com.au/ from the same folks [at SCA Austereo]. And the U.K.’s Union Jack, http://www.unionjack.co.uk/ which only plays British stuff, and uses [Futuri’s Listener Driven Radio] platform.” – James Cridland. (Ed note: I liked Union Jack a lot, especially the name, which I wish I’d come up with myself.)
“KVSC-HD2 (97.5 RadioX) St. Cloud, Minn., is technically a college station, but it sounds pretty awesome. It’s 100% Alternative Gold from the ‘90s, and while there are definitely the old standards mixed in, they have gone out of their way to include deeper tracks and artists that I haven’t heard on the air since, well, I played them as currents.” – Keith Berman
“CHBM (Boom 97.3) Toronto is great as a fast-paced, fun Classic Hits station.” – Adam Jacobson. (Ed. note: Boom, a favorite for many years, did some particularly interesting things this year, including a Webpage where listeners could answer a handful of questions and customize their own mixtape. Playlisting seems like an obvious area of expansion for radio stations, and a great use of its expertise, but Boom’s was the only serious example I saw this year.)
“I’ve been listening to a great low power FM station, WVMO 98.7 Monona Wisc.. If Lake Wobegon had a radio station, it would sound like this. Americana music, local people singing jingles, and folksy neighborhood updates that reflect a real unique sense of place. If they didn’t do such a good job of passing along weather warnings, I might consider moving there (just outside Madison). Industry veteran Tom Teuber has got this one just right. Gentle professional quality in a homespun community station. In the perfect radio world, every town would have a WVMO.” – Wally Leisering
“How about one that is breaking the stigma and setting the precedent for internet radio Worldwide, BestCountryRadio.com?” – Robert “The Iceman” Golomboski
“I stumbled across WGHT (North Jersey 1500) Pompton Lakes, N.J., in September 2015 and have been listening ever since … WGHT takes us old timers back to the ‘50s and ‘60s when AM was king. WGHT is all live, no automation, and plays music from the ‘50s through the ‘90s, but you will hear an occasional song from the ‘30s and ‘40s or the 2000s . . . I realize this type of station would not work well in many areas, but it sure works in North Jersey, and via the internet it works here in Cucamonga.” – Tony Petrone, in praise of the deep oldies AM in my backyard, already a favorite of many Ross On Radio readers.
“We just celebrated six years as a radio station and 2-1/2 years on [the FM dial]. Just over one full year on FM in Tuscaloosa, too. We also have all the same employees from when we started. Now that is a rare feat. So still intriguing.” – Geno Pearson, Birmingham Mountain Radio
Lance Venta, whose industry Website became the home of “Ross On RadioInsight” this year, had a lengthy list, which included KVIL and KDGE Dallas, KISQ (The Breeze) San Francisco, iHeart’s multiple Hip-Hop/R&B launches, including San Diego’s Jam’n 95.7; WMGC (the Bounce) Detroit and Alpha’s throwback Hip-Hop stations. He also cited:
“KABQ-FM Albuquerque and KOSF San Francisco relaunched all-‘80s as a viable format after its digital success for iHeart and as a NTR driver with its upcoming concert in San Jose. That led to the return of the format to other markets [South Bend, State College, Tulsa] and even an all new wave launch in Salt Lake City. But the trend really started at the beginning of the year with the ‘80s-heavy [WMXJ] 102.7 The Beach Miami.
“WSTR (Star 94) Atlanta – Bringing over Jeff Dauler and Jenn Hobby for mornings resurrected WSTR as a player in what had been a two-way battle between WWWQ (Q100) and WWPW (Power 96.1) in recent years.”
“Wild 104 Montana – Building a network of Rhythmic CHRs on translators in Missoula, Billings, and Kalispell is a confluence of 2016 trends.”
Coming soon, a look at intriguing Oldies and Classic Hits outlets.