WHEN RADIO DJs ARE EXPECTED TO PREPARE DURING THE SONG

by Dan O'Day on February 17, 2014

oldies radio show prepI happened to listen to an oldies radio station in a certain very large U.S. market, which was presenting (for no apparent reason, and with no sense of fun or audience involvement) a “One-Hit Wonders Weekend.”

oldies radio show prep

The jock outro’d Mocedades’ “Eres Tu”:

“…which is Spanish for ‘Touch The Wind.’ ”

Except, of course, it’s not.

It’s Spanish for “You Are.”

The flip side of the Mocedades record was entitled “Touch The Wind,” with new lyrics added to the melody of “Eres Tu.”

This is a station that presents itself as the authoritative source on Oldies (or Gold, or Classic, or whatever you want to call it) music.

Gee, I wonder if anyone in that market, with its mere 48.2% Hispanic population, would notice the error?

Why did the DJ make such a sloppy mistake?

Because the jocks at this station are required to provide interesting tidbits about some of the songs.

And from what source are they expected to get those tidbits?

While the music is playing, they are supposed to go online and find something — anything — about the title or artist.

As a result, they end up delivering the first piece of trivia they stumble upon — because they’re in a hurry.

The first piece of trivia, of course, is likely to be the one that is most well-known.

You need to dig for the lesser-known (and therefore often more interesting) bits of information.

This big oldies station is doing exactly what its listeners can do just as easily and just as well (or in this case, better):

A fast Google search.

So the radio hosts end up telling listeners fascinating facts that are less than fascinating…because the audience already knows them.

If you tease an upcoming Beatles song by saying, “Its original title was ‘Scrambled Eggs,’” many listeners won’t know which song you’re referring to. But many will, because it’s a commonly known fact regarding one of the most popular songs of the 20th Century.

On the other hand, quite a few intrigued listeners would sit through a commercial break if they heard the jock say:

“You know how ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ begins, right? ‘She was just 17 / You know what I mean.’

“What DID the Beatles mean by ‘you know what I mean’?”

When I ask radio people who attend my seminars what that line means, the most common responses I get are:

“Hot”

“Jail bait”

“Young & pretty”

What do you think that line means?

Nope. It doesn’t mean what you thought it means.

Here’s Paul McCartney himself to tell you where that line came from.


View this Paul McCartney video on YouTube.

If you’re a Beatles fan, do you find the “You know what I mean” insight a bit more interesting than the more tired “Scrambled Eggs = Yesterday” bit?

If so, it’s probably because the info is new to you.

“Scrambled Eggs” was interesting when you first learned it — all those years ago.

But jocks who are expected to do their “research” without any prep time…during their shows…with Google as their research tool….

Well, they’re never going to find “the good stuff.”

Instead, they simply do exactly what listeners can do for themselves: a quick, superficial Internet search.

And they rob radio of its magic.

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Comments

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

DJJackD February 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

1983-ish, I was 15-ish and I had been working at the local AM CHR for about a year doing the Sunday morning God Squad. (Didn’t drive so Dad dropped me off every week, sunrise sign-on, etc.)

I had been switched to Sunday afternoon drive-time a few months before hey asked me to fill in for the morning drive guy on his week-long summer vacation. Sure! No extra training or prep, just more spots and weather reports on the log than usual and (horrors!) other people actually start appearing in the building! Even the office staff and the station owner/GM. He rolls into the studio around 8:30 to tell me, “by the way, from 9-10am is Oldies Hour.”

I had never realized until that moment that oldies are short. VERY short. Two minutes is not a lot of time for a 15 year old to randomly choose another record from the stack handed to me, slip-cue it, and then desperately thumb through Joel Whitburn’s Top 40 so I could breathlessly read on the air, “That was The Beatles! John, Paul,.. Ringo, and….

George!!”

Slater February 25, 2014 at 6:27 am

Whenever I’m looking for song trivia, I try to find something that’s new to me. Chances are, if I’ve heard it before, I’ve said it before. And if I said it before, listeners have likely heard me say it before, so it’s not new… And if I can’t find anything that doesn’t feel “tired,” then I try to look for what that artist may be doing now. A lot of Oldies or Classic Hits artists are still touring and/or making new music, so if “Michael McDonald did the background vocals on ‘Ride Like the Wind’” is getting stale, you can always go with, “You can see Christopher sing this one live on March 28th at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Ticket info at christophercross.com…”

(By the way, that concert info is accurate. I even do my prep when making blog comments.)

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