Monday, May 10, 2010

B98.5 FM's Little Mysteries

In past columns, I have wondered aloud why Star 94 plays certain songs and stays away from others.  For example, Star plays Baby by Justin Bieber and Your Love is My Drug by Kesha, but does not spin anything by Jay Sean or Jason Derulo, who have a rhythmic tenor but are still mainstream.  And why doesn't Star play Solo by Iyaz?  It's a huge hit and has a rhythmic-pop sound.  A couple of weeks ago, I questioned Star's not playing Rude Boy by Rihanna, which I admit leans a little more toward the hip-hop side of things.  Yet it's #1 on Billboard's Pop Songs and is played on some Hot AC stations.

My questions on Star 94, however, pale in comparison to a much larger issue: Why does B98.5 FM play no current music?

B98.5's playlist can best be described as Hot AC except for one distinction.  Hot AC stations include current product in their music rotation.  Breakeven by The Script is a hit that seems perfect for the B98.5 sound; it truly has that Hot AC flavor.  Need You Now by Lady Antebellum, which happens to be my favorite song, has crossed over into CHR, Hot AC and AC, and would fit perfectly.  How about the smash by Train, Hey, Soul Sister?  It's so Hot AC, as they say.  Then there's Adam Lambert's Whataya Want from Me? and others that would seem to complement B98.5's heavily-researched playlist.

Is B98.5 intent on having its own unique sound that's different from Star 94 and Q100?  Adding some current songs would somewhat duplicate what Star and Q play, but B98.5's overall music personality would remain noticeably different from its two closest competitors.  Moreover, playing select hits might appeal to B98.5 listeners who like the station's sound but would prefer a bit of today sprinkled in.  Is B98.5 finding something in its research that's making it shy away from current product?

B98.5 FM staff say that what the station is doing is working, in other words the old "if it ain't broke" axiom.  But, would adding current tunes enhance the station and shore it up against a future AC competitor?  In truth, ratings probably would not noticeably sway, and no new AC appears to be on the horizon.  B98.5 is said to be Cox Media Group's Bob Neil's favorite station.  He invented the format, and its intricacies are as guarded as Coca-Cola's secret formula.  So I'm not expecting to get the real answer to my question, assuming there is one.

Acronyms Galore
Why does everything seem to be turning into an acronym?  Certain acronyms roll off the tongue and are just fine; KFC and the AJC come to mind.  Others just don't work.  Kiss 104.1 is running promos for the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which feature the fly jock himself.  He reminds Kiss listeners to tune to "the TJMS" every morning.  The TJMS?  Not exactly music to the ears. Visits Atlanta
This week, Scott Fybush's "Tower Site of the Week" at features the main and auxiliary transmitter sites of Star 94 (WSTR-FM), the 790 the Zone (WQXI-AM) site, and the Star and Zone studios.  I accompanied Scott when WSTR/WQXI Chief Engineer Scott Trask met us at the various facilities and provided excellent tours.  Scott Fybush is an accomplished writer, an excellent photographer and a broadcast encyclopedia so the feature is well worth looking at if you have any interest in the technical end of radio.

I have to excuse myself now to go listen for the Big Money Buzzer on B98.5.  Thanks for reading.  I would love to hear from you at  Follow us on Twitter at, and we'll follow you back.

Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV Blog:

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