A Story of Missed Opportunity

The problems that plagued KNGY were the same ones that brought down KPTI:  short playlist, repetitive recurrents, weak signal, and, yes, low ratings.  The sad part is that KNGY’s owner was supposed to be a fan of dance music.  Still, between the two of them, we had almost a full decade of dance music on the air, which is more than one can say about most major markets in the U.S.  Dance radio will return to the Bay Area again.

In the meantime, click on Dance Radio Megamix to keep up with what’s hot on dance radio.  We have decided to leave our KNGY watch (see below) pretty much the way we last updated it.

92.7 KNGY Beat

Current station rating:  C

Terrestrial/satellite ranking:  #6

Overall ranking:  #9

The good news:  KNGY is four years old—that’s a record for a dance radio station in the Bay Area.  The bad news?  Click on Home and see how “Energy 92.7” stacks up against the other dance stations in the U.S.  If you live in the Bay Area, go to Bay Area Radio Mix for our survey of this market’s radio scene.  Read on for our full review of this station.

Let’s Disturb This Groove

Since KNGY’s debut in 2004, you can sense the radio station’s balancing act:  It tries to mix original dance records with plenty of top 40 songs and dance remixes of top 40 tracks (see table below).  So while its playlist includes bona fide dance acts, familiar top 40 artists help define its sound.  This self-proclaimed independent radio station is more like the gold-leaning WKTU New York (a Clear Channel station) than KNHC Seattle and SIRIUS XM’s BPM.

 

2008-2009 Tracks on KNGY
(excluding mix-show-only songs)
Genre Artists
Top 40 Kaci Battaglia, Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, Duffy, Janet, Kuriouz, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Rihanna, Shakira, Britney Spears, The Ting Tings
Dance remixes Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen, Natasha Bedingfield, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Danity Kane, Taylor Dayne, Hilary Duff, Estelle, Jessica Jarrell, Kid Cudi, The Killers, John Legend, Leona Lewis, Pixie Lott, Ne-Yo, Paradiso Girls, Katy Perry, Pink, Plumb, The Pussycat Dolls, Robyn, Shontelle, Kreesha Turner, V Factory, Kanye West, Michelle Williams
Dance Ameerah, AnnaGrace, Axwell/Ingrosso/Angello/Laidback Luke, Basshunter, Bellatrax, Ben DJ, BoA, Andy Caldwell, Cascada, The Cataracs, Ida Corr, Mischa Daniels, Darude, Deadmau5 & Kaskade, Tony Di Bart, Electric Allstars, Enur, Ercola, Nicola Fasano vs. Pat Rich, Filo & Peri, Flanders, JJ Flores & Steve Smooth, Steve Forest, Freemasons, Frontier, Funkerman, Christian George, Groove Armada, David Guetta, David Guetta & Chris Willis, Guru Josh Project, Haley, Erika Jayne, Jes, Jupiter Rising, Kaskade, Kaskade & Deadmau5, La Roux, Lady Gaga, Chris Lake, Yves LaRock, LMFAO, The Mac Project, Sophia May, Metro Station, MGMT, M.I.A., No Halo, Out of Office, Morgan Page, Passion Pit, PhonJaxx, AR Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls, September, Sharam, SK8, Kim Sozzi, Sam Sparro, StoneBridge, Donna Summer, Armin van Buuren & DJ Shah, Richard Vission & Static Revenger

 

As you can see from our dance playlist roundup (click on Dance Radio Megamix), this is still a fraction of the 2008 and 2009 tracks other dance radio stations have been playing.  (If KNGY is serious about listener input, you should contact the station and use our master playlist as your talking points.  Click on Music Camp and take a look at our earlier suggestions as well.)

Yes, KNGY needs to boost its signal a little bit more in order to be competitive in the Bay Area.  Streaming audio helps but will not level the playing field anytime soon.  But the biggest problem is the playlist.  The station owner is supposed to be a fan of dance music.  If Joe Bayliss is satisfied with the sound of his station, he must be easily pleased.  Or maybe he doesn’t even listen to KNGY, and this is just a marketing ploy.

 

Click below to see KNGY’s real-time playlist for the last 24 hours

 

Every current-based radio station is judged on two fronts:  its current playlist and its recurrent database.  KNGY only has about 20 tracks on its playlist on average.  And it hangs on to certain songs way past their “Use By” dates (Bananarama and Benassi Bros. come to mind).  One song may not seem like a big deal until you realize its 20 to 40 weekly spins could have gone to something else.

Whether it’s Ciara, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, or Nelly Furtado, KNGY is never too proud to play these top 40 sloppy seconds.  There’s nothing wrong with playing the biggest mainstream top 40 artists—some of their dance remixes are quite decent—but their latest and older hits collectively dominate the station’s playlist.

While other dance radio stations have played some of the same top 40 artists, the difference comes down to what else gets played.  About the only dance artist who enjoys regular airplay on KNGY is Kaskade, and that’s probably because he’s based in the Bay Area.  By the way, some dance artists only got on the air because of upcoming shows in San Francisco (for example, Ralph Falcon, Peaches, Judy Torres, and Ultra Nate).  Any radio station should try to showcase its format’s best representatives—not borrow heavily from other formats.

Anyone who claims dance music lacks its own core artists must be asleep at the turntable.  Among currently active artists, we can think of Amber, ATB, Basement Jaxx, Benny Benassi, BT, Cassius, The Chemical Brothers, Ferry Corsten, Da Buzz, Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, 4 Strings, Freemasons, Gabriel & Dresden, Goldfrapp, David Guetta, iio, Junior Jack, Kaskade, Kristine W, Lasgo, Moby, David Morales, Mylo, Narcotic Thrust, Oakenfold, Lucas Prata, QED, Robbie Rivera, Shape:UK, Bob Sinclar, Tiesto, Underworld, Ian van Dahl, Paul van Dyk, and Armand van Helden.  Sadly, KNGY is too busy playing Clarkson, Timberlake, and what Perez Hilton likes.

In a November 2007 article in Billboard, the PD of KNGY sounded very pleased with himself when he described how playing Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” was a no-brainer because of her tabloid status.  While her latest album is not horrible—if only because expectations were so low—this song would’ve had trouble getting on the air if it was released under the name of an unknown artist.  When KNGY plays only about 20 currents, putting “Gimme More” in heavy rotation seems like a waste of precious airtime.  Indeed, this track didn’t have legs and remained in the top 10 for only nine weeks.  Kaskade’s remix would’ve helped, but KNGY and others stuck with the original.  Chris Lake’s “Carry Me Away” stayed in the top 10 for 16 weeks—and he wasn’t in the tabloids.

When KNGY first went on the air, it gave the impression its catalog would be deeper and richer than KPTI’s—reality has turned out to be a different story.  Yes, it plays 1980s dance rock (Depeche Mode, New Order, et al.), but so does at least one adult top 40 station in the Bay Area.  And after making minimal effort to add different recurrents four times to date, the results are mixed at best.  Recurrents are like diapers—they should be changed.  Radio stations in general and KNGY in particular end up playing the same 200 oldies over and over.

It’s unfortunate that KNGY doesn’t stray too far from the familiar up-tempo oldies embraced by other formats.  It’s true that you don’t hear Black Box and KLF on the radio much nowadays, but their records were mainstream top 40 hits.  We’d rather listen to Jam & Spoon’s “Stella” than Madonna’s “Express Yourself” for the umpteenth time.  It’s okay to play Len once in a while—not every other day.  KNGY should try these 1980s dance artists on for size:  Fantasy, Gino Soccio, Chas Jankel, Art of Noise, Bronski Beat, Blue Mercedes, and Ten City.

When you hear one of those “vintage beats” from the 1970s, that’s KNGY’s way of saying:  “We’re too lazy to find some forgotten dance classics by the likes of Alec R. Costandinos, Machine, Jackie Moore, Musique, Saint Tropez, Jeanne Shy, and Voyage, so here’s another familiar crossover hit from Chic or Donna Summer.”

Frankly, anything before 1990 should be relegated to a weekly oldies show.  Hip-hop radio stations don’t feel compelled to play the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash every week, so why should dance stations play 1970s records on a daily basis?  This should force programmers to focus on mining materials from the last 20 years.

And speaking of radio consultants we love to hate…anyone can go to a library or bookstore (or use the Internet) to research the greatest hits of Janet Jackson, who was KNGY’s No. 1 core artist for a while.  But it would take a little more creativity to program “State of the World,” a promo-only single that received airplay back in 1991; “Oops Now I Can’t Go,” the hidden track from the 1993 album “janet.” that was a hit in Europe; and “Diamonds,” the Herb Alpert hit featuring Jackson.  We see the same problem with any established artist on KNGY’s playlist; the station is missing conspicuous hits and/or obscure gems.

Brief History of 92.7 KNGY

Less than six months after KNGY (formerly KPTI and, briefly, KBTB) abandoned its dance format in April 2004, it changed its tune again.  Then after playing mostly dance oldies for a month, KNGY began regular programming.

 

KNGY Time Line
Date Milestone
October 2004 Top 500 countdown for one week, out of order initially (see below for top 10)
5000-song marathon for three weeks, including about 15 recurrents from 2004, plus Mynt (see below for first hour’s playlist)
November 2004 Fewer oldies played
Two more current hits added: Reina and Narcotic Thrust
DJs on air
Gradually playing more current hits (Shape:UK, Stellar Project, Kaskade)
December 2004 Debut of first mix show
Web site launched with a list of tsunami charities
January 2005 Basic features added to Web site
March 2005 Number of mix shows expanded to five (one daily and four weekly)
April 2005 Rotation of recurrents (Cassius, Ferry Corsten, DB Boulevard, Fiori, In-Grid, Neja, Opera Trance, Moloko, The Shamen, et al.)
Internet broadcast
July 2005 Rotation of recurrents (Tori Amos, A7, Junior Senior, The Tamperer, The Underdog Project, Communards, Lil Louis, Soho, et al.)
Signal boost
August 2005 Chillout mix show added
Daily mini-mix show added
December 2005-Present Recurring reception problems
March 2006 Rotation of recurrents (Andrea Brown, Sheryl Crow, Enya, Garbage, Groove Armada, Jamiroquai, Moby, Jason Nevins, Jennifer Paige, Watergate, White Town, The Wiseguys, et al.)
September 2006-February 2008 Jockless between midnight and 6 am weekdays
May 2007 Rotation of recurrents (Bjork, Hani, Hannah, Miranda, Reel 2 Real, System F, et al.)

 

KNGY top 10 dance songs (October 2, 2004-October 9, 2004)

  1. “I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor (1979)
  2. “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” Barry White (1974)
  3. “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” A Taste of Honey (1978)
  4. “Last Dance,” Donna Summer (1978)
  5. “Got to Be Real,” Cheryl Lynn (1979)
  6. “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” C&C Music Factory Featuring Freedom Williams (1991)
  7. “Let the Music Play,” Shannon (1983)
  8. “So Many Men, So Little Time,” Miquel Brown (1983)
  9. “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Thelma Houston (1977)
  10. “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” Barry White (1975)

KNGY playlist (October 9, 2004, 7-8 pm)

  • “I See Right Through to You,” DJ Encore Featuring Engelina (2001)
  • “Something,” Lasgo (2003)
  • “Sincerely Yours,” Sweet Sensation (1989)
  • “Never Leave You – Uh Ooh, Uh Oooh!,” Lumidee (2003)
  • “Break 4 Love,” Raze (1988)
  • “California Dreamin’,” Royal Gigolos (2004)
  • “Independent Women Part I,” Destiny’s Child (2000)
  • “Do You Wanna Funk,” Patrick Cowley Featuring Sylvester (1982)
  • “Waiting for Tonight,” Jennifer Lopez (1999)
  • “Baby Baby,” Corona (1995)
  • “Turn Me On,” Kevin Lyttle Featuring Spragga Benz (2004)
  • “Come Go With Me,” Expose (1987)
  • “Take Me to the Clouds Above,” LMC vs. U2 (2004)
  • “Get Off,” Foxy (1978)
  • “Take Me Away (Into the Night),” 4 Strings (2002)

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