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Radio AM to FM: March 25, 2005

Know Jack

"We're kind of like your iPod on shuffle," declared the on-air announcement March 17th at 5 PM. "We're declaring our independence from all those radio stations with little playlists, big repetition, and boring djs ... We have two simple rules: We play what we want, and don't tell us what to play ... enjoy."

And, so, Infinity finally pulled Arrow 93 off of life support, where it has been for the past few years. Arrow is dead, long live 93.1, Jack-FM.

Jack FM? What kind of moron names a station Jack-FM?

In any event, Jack promises to play songs that may not have been played on the radio for a long time. More importantly, Jack also promises to play songs that may not have been played together for a long time, if ever: Supertramp, Elton John, The Knack, U2, The Cure, Tom Petty and Prince, among many others. In many ways, it really is like my iPod on shuffle (albeit with commercials), especially since the station is currently running jockless.

The entire air staff of Arrow was fired during the day that Thursday, including Joe Benson, Mary Price and Maggie McKay. One exception: Jonathon Brandmeier, who in spite of helping push Arrow over the cliff on which it was teetering, has two years left on his contract.

To be fair, it wasn't Brandmeier who caused Arrow to fail. As I stated last April 16 -- when I predicted that Arrow would be history within a year -- placing Brandmeier on Arrow proved that station executives had no clue about their audience. Arrow listeners didn't want talk in the morning, they wanted music. Brandmeier was put in an unfortunate situation and to his credit, he really tried hard to make a go of it.

But from the start, he was doomed. As I said, he wasn't a good fit for the Arrow audience, and the Arrow audience was getting smaller all the time, for various reasons. Infinity had to do something; it's just too bad that Brandmeier was placed into a position in which he had no way to succeed.

According to Don Barett's, the station will remain without air personalities for the foreseeable future. Other Infinity "Jack" stations don't have them, and, says Jack manager Jeff Federman, the audiences just don't want them.

We'll see. I like air personalities, and if I wanted to just listen to 10,000 songs on my iPod -- roughly 8,800 more than what's available on Jack -- I could just listen to my iPod. The reason I subscribed to Sirius satellite radio was so that I could hear a similar variety of music with personalities.

It would appear that a jockless Jack would be extremely vulnerable to a competitor who put together a similar music format with good personalities and killer production. Clear Channel, for example, could do just that with Star 98.7 ... as long as Jamie and Danny aren't part of the lineup.

In the meantime, I have to admit that I am enjoying the music. I may occasionally switch over from my favorite, KZLA, when I am listening to FM radio.


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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