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Airwaves: June 4, 2010

I’d Like to Make a Request ...

Years ago, stations used to take requests.

Note the key word: take. Stations hardly ever actually played requests unless the song -- usually in the top-20 or 30 songs of the week -- happened to be coming up anyway. Considering that popular top-40 stations might repeat some songs as often as each hour, the odds are that a “request” of a popular song would be on the air soon enough.

Rare was the station that actually played real requests. But in the end it didn’t matter: most requests were for popular songs, and stations usually logged the requests anyway, making changes to their playlists after the weekly programming meeting. It was a win-win: listeners thought their requests were being played, and stations got valuable research just by answering their telephones.

Fast-forward 35 years. Now telephones just won’t cut it, and interactive radio is on the horizon with LDR, or Listener Driven Radio.

The modern version of requests as promoted by consulting company McVay New Media is a software program that allows listeners to access a radio station’s playlist through their mobile phone or a stations web site make requests or vote for their favorite songs. The requests and voting get tabulated in real time, so that more popular songs get played more often.

And if that weren’t enough, the station will send an email or text message to registered users telling them when their songs will be played.

What happens if a song request is made that isn’t on a station’s playlist? Same as 35 years ago ... the request is ignored. But as someone who once answered phones for Magic 106 and Power 106, I can tell you ... almost all requests are already on the list.

LDR taps into social networks like Facebook, My Space, Friendster and Twitter, and can be found on 22 stations nationwide. None are local right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it or a variant doesn’t appear soon on a station in Southern California.

March Madness

Dodgers broadcast legend Vin Scully was the winner of the Los Angeles Radio People March Madness contest held by Don Barrett at LARadio.Com. Out of 500 nominations and two months of popular voting by subscribers to the site, Scully was announced the winner on May 28th.

Coming in second was Gary Owens, heard for years on KFWB (980 AM) and the original KMPC (now KSPN, 710 AM) as well as on television as the announcer for Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In on NBC television.

In third was “The Real” Don Steele, known primarily for his amazing work on KHJ (930 AM) and Ten-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM). Steele was so popular during his run on KHJ that the ratings of the had him with a 40 percent share of the afternoon audience at one time. He was also found on television (The Real Don Steele Show on KHJ-TV Channel 9) and movies (anyone remember Rockin’ Ricky on The Hollywood Nights?).


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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