Elvis Has Been Kicked Out of the Building


The familiar oldies radio format, corporate style, is withering. It's been a broadcast mainstay for more than 30 years, but as CSM reports, there's "a long list of stations from coast to coast that have abandoned '60s and '70s 'feel-good' music over the past six months." In Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, N.C., Orlando, Fla., and Austin, Texas, sez the paper, there are no traditional oldies stations at all.

The core oldies audience of aging boomers is no longer desirable from an ad-sales point of view, and many corporate decision-makers at the big radio chains (read: Clear Channel) are younger than the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Motown songs that have long made up the heart of the stations' playlists. Many of these stations are switching to the Jack format, and "compare their zany musical blends—bouncing from Abba to Motley Crue to Coldplay in a manner of minutes—to the randomness of the 'shuffle' feature on the ubiquitous iPod music player."

On the other hand, corporate oldies playlists were narrow, repetitive, and lifeless, so in many cities there's not much to mourn. There's still oldies on satellite, of course, and no doubt some independent stations will pick up an oldies feed, so the format will be around one way or the other for a while.

Even so, the corporate abandonment of the format appears to represent a turning point of sorts for music that—as a radio format, in movie soundtracks, as ad jingles, etc.,—was once used to sell just about everything.