Put Up Or Shut Up


For a month, we’ve received hundreds of phone calls asking one question: What’s the big announcement? We were going to debut our new monitoring system, but it’s been put off until R&R gets theirs on line. That should give us at least another five years or so!

For weeks we’ve been doing our best to echo the sentiments of the industry. We’ve identified existing problems and asked for your input on positive changes. You’ve given us your ideas. Now it’s time to put up or shut up.

You’re reading the future. The New Network Forty contains the changes you’ve suggested…so far. We will continue to reflect the evolution of our industry in the coming months. New ideas will be added and outdated features discarded as The New Network Forty becomes your magazine for the ‘90s…and beyond.

Here’s what’s in it:

“The Charts:” The future of Mainstream Top 40 lies in accurately reporting actual airplay. The Network Forty provides the most detailed report of radio airplay through our exclusive Plays Per Week charts. These charts are tabulated from computer-generated music logs from reporting stations across the country.

The national PPW chart appears on page 3. Other PPWs, based on selected format airplay and eight regional breakouts, enable you to chart songs specifically for your format and geographical region. No other source provides this information. The Network Forty charts give you the most accurate compilation of actual radio airplay. Our PPW research monitors the majors as well as key secondaries outside the universe of BDS markets and airplay is based on specific formats. You won’t be confused by airplay reported from radio stations outside your target audience.

Next to the national PPW chart on page 3 is the traditional chart based on a combination of national airplay, sales and requests. This chart is what program directors across the country predict will happen in the coming week, based on their individual information. The Charts page in The Network Forty provides the only side-by-side comparison of predicted versus actual airplay.

The Network Forty has expanded editorial coverage to include industry news that relates directly to our readers. In addition to the “real” news, our “Page 6,” written by the now infamous Chrome Lizard, will be full of rumors and scandalous activities…the truths and near-truths that make our chosen profession so much fun. Plus, we’ll print a weekly picture guaranteed to shock and titillate.

We will provide the radio and record industries the most in-depth promotion information available. Networking with promotion directors and staffs across the country, we will keep you up-to-date on the latest promotions at all radio stations and record companies. We’ll also keep you current on promotional availabilities for your station and market.

A new, weekly twist, The Network Forty Spotlight will feature an outstanding radio station or record company each week. You’ll get a thumbnail sketch of different companies and how they operate. The Network Forty Interview will do the same with individuals. Once a month, we’ll take a detailed look at someone impacting on our business. A periodical “Twenty Questions” feature will deal with others whose expertise is of particular importance.

The Network Forty will continue to provide you with the most detailed music information available today. Each week, The Network Forty staff networks with program directors and music directors across the country to find out what songs and programming features are working best. This information is available to you daily through the networking process or weekly in the music sections of the magazine.

In addition to Mainstream Top 40, we also provide detailed information on Crossover songs. With this issue, an Alternative section is added. It’s like none other in the business. We will chart those songs we believe are ready to cross over into the Mainstream from the Alternative. The Crossover section will provide this information for the Urban and Rhythm stations as well.

The Network Forty is the only weekly publication that researches programmers’ opinions, retail sales, requests, airplay and outside influences (see “Mass Media”) to provide a total overview of music information.

The Network Forty “Overnight Requests” will continue to provide the industry with the only daily request information. This information is available to subscribers on a daily basis as well as weekly in the magazine.

We also debut an extensive “Help Wanted” section with “Gottagettagig.” It includes everything you need to know to find or fill an opening …and most importantly, it’s free!

With all of your help, we’ve created a magazine that reflects your ideas. We’ve also included a page of our own. “The Morning Line” is a prediction page compiled by The Network Forty staff. It’s a guaranteed non-scientific page full of picks by our own “experts” that’s sure to take the industry by storm.

Along with “Conference Call,” The Network Forty will continue to highlight important issues through the only “Editorial” section in the industry. The Network Forty has developed a reputation for “telling it like it is” and we’ll continue to do so.

The Network Forty is the only trade magazine that boasts a staff of seasoned radio professionals. Compare us with others and see for yourself. Each editor at The Network Forty holds extensive radio credentials and we’re dedicated to putting together accurate, important information each week that will help make your job a little easier…whether you’re programming a radio station or promoting your record company’s product.

We’re excited about our changes. It’s more than just graphics. It’s a commitment to excellence and a commitment to reflect your ideas in a publication that exists for your benefit and betterment. We couldn’t have made the changes without your help. There were so many consulted that we would have to expand the magazine just to mention the names. But suffice it to say that all of our readers are responsible for the changes. Some more than others. And we ask for your continued commitment to us.

Join us as a weekly reader and partner to help us make The Network Forty your magazine for the ‘90s…and beyond.

More Fish


Under the heading, “How Bad Can It Get?”, this week’s answer is WRBQ.

Less than five short years ago, WRBQ was one of the quintessential Top 40 radio stations in the country of which few could compare. At one point, Arbitron listed the station number one in every demo in every daypart. It was a heritage radio station in every sense of the word.

Conceived by Scott Shannon in the late ‘70s, the station soon became a monster. It was a hothouse for growth and a proving ground for some of the nation’s top talent. As with most legends, it was also the product of a lot of luck. Were it not for a negotiating ploy, Shannon might not have even done an air shift. He and management were a few thousand dollars apart, so Shannon solved the difference by agreeing to do a two-hour shift from 10 am until Noon. He had a good time playing his favorite oldies and before he (or anyone else knew it), a legend was born. Shannon’s show became so successful that he segued into mornings and the rest, as they say, is history.

Shannon was helped immensely by his talented afternoon-drive redneck Mason “Leroy” Dixon and research maven Randy Kabrich. After Scott left for New York, Mason and Randy guided the station into a higher stratosphere.

There was much joy in Tampa/St. Pete-ville. Under their tutelage and a management team that promoted and positioned, WRBQ became the yardstick by which all other stations in the nation were compared. And few measured up.

Then came the frontal assault by the Power Pig. WRBQ underestimated its vulnerability, which caused an immediate audience erosion and a massive shift in direction. Blinded by the napalm carpet bombing of its competition, the once mighty “Q” began to slip. However, its failing was only in comparison to what they once were. Guided by different program directors and general managers, Q105 still managed a healthy share of the Tampa audience.

Its inevitable sale…and the more inevitable debt service…further robbed Q105 of its ability to react competitively. On even ground, its mistakes began to magnify. Some adjustment was certainly needed…but not abandonment.

Q105’s top brass struggled to find a happy medium. Attacking overhead was their first move. Cutting Kabrich loose and letting Dixon and other air personalities leave acerbated the problem. But the final blow came last week.

WRBQ changed formats: it is now “Young Country.”

Are we surprised? No.

A smarter man than I once said that you’ll never be surprised by underestimating the intelligence and long-range planning of radio station general managers. Since then, I haven’t…and I haven’t.

Our industry seems to be infested with people in management positions who blame their lack of success on everything but their own inability to succeed. How can owners across the country be confident that managers and program directors who fail in one format will succeed in another? How can they continue to fall for the “format of the month” extolled by consultants and managers? Is there a plan here…like a five-year plan for success?

Five months maybe?

Would you believe…five weeks?

How about until I get my next check.

Here’s a question: How long will “Young Country” last? When it grows up. Then what? Back to Top 40?

Picture a Vice President of Promotion telling the President of a record company that he can’t promote Top 40 records any more. He can only promote Country records because that’s what the audience seems to be buying now. That would never happen.

What is wrong with this picture?

This is not meant to pick on WRBQ’s current management. Admittedly, they weren’t in place when the erosion began. Maybe they are committed to the long-term success of the station in this new format. Maybe they will stick with building the station no matter how the market reacts or how difficult it might be to compete. Maybe they studied long and hard before they made the decision to change and their reasons are grounded in concrete.

If this is the case, then they’re one of the few.

But there are too many stations changing because those in charge aren’t competent. And they’re not capable of accepting blame and seeking the knowledge to change.

We’ll miss WRBQ…and all it stood for. But we are content in the knowledge that there are others out there striving to be the classic Q105 of the future. We’re with you. And as a magazine that seeks to provide the knowledge that you’ll need to climb the ladder to success, we accept the challenge of joining with you to change the phase of radio.

Top 40 is alive. But many who manage and program the format are brain dead.

In three weeks, we’ll adjust to the needs of those who are alive and alert.

The Network Forty…your magazine for the ‘90s and beyond.