Twist and Shout:  More on Mystery Station [July 2012]

In case you had trouble tuning in to BART-FM (refer to our previous Mystery Station Note) on AOL’s SHOUTcast (shoutcast.com), try this link to one of its audio streams.

<a href="http://yp.shoutcast.com/sbin/tunein-station.m3u?id=35205">http://yp.shoutcast.com/sbin/tunein-station.m3u?id=35205</a>

Kudos to SHOUTcast’s incredible staff for all the help.  We’ll have to explore SHOUTcast’s roster of radio stations a little more.

As we said earlier, BART-FM broadcasts a mix show from 9 pm to 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays (it’s in the Pacific time zone).  During the daytime, it is more or less a mainstream top 40 station with an eclectic selection of recurrents—definitely not from the same book of recurrents that every other radio station follows.  For example, we heard Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy” (1977), Cock Robin’s “When Your Heart Is Weak” (1985), and Taxi Doll’s “Waiting” (2006).  Even dance radio doesn’t play Taxi Doll anymore, much less top 40 radio.

Before we give this station too much credit for originality, we should point out that all the songs we mentioned in our previous Note were No. 1 club or No. 1 dance radio hits in the U.S.  In fact, Kristine W, Qkumba Zoo, and Vengaboys received enough top 40 airplay that they all made the national top 100 charts.  Not to take anything away from BART-FM, but these are low-hanging fruits.

How did we discover BART-FM’s simulcast on the Net in the first place?  Not from the station itself.  We were searching the Internet for all references to BART-FM and ran across some sort of SHOUTcast station performance report.  Of course, this station could have made things a lot easier for listeners if it had a Web site.

The Ed Show?

According to SHOUTcast, the one URL for BART-FM is oddsock.org.  Is this the man behind the station?

Mystery Station [July 2012]

This mix show is more unpredictable than all those gold-oriented dance programs you hear on Saturday nights all over the country.  For one thing, it’s not restricted to 1970s disco.  From Penny McLean’s “Lady Bump” (1976) to Pendulum’s “The Island” (2011), this station plays a little bit of everything in between.  When was the last time you heard these tracks on the radio?

Ten City – That’s the Way Love Is (1989)

M People – Open Your Heart (1995)

Kristine W – One More Try (1996)

Qkumba Zoo – The Child (Inside) (1996)

Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! (1999)

Amber – Above the Clouds (2000)

Lucas Prata – And She Said… (2006)

So how do you tune in to this station?  If you live in Silicon Valley, set your radio to 104.1 and cross your fingers.  There was a pirate station that operated at the same frequency from San Jose’s Willow Glen area years ago.  We haven’t been able to find this mystery station in the FCC database (we’ve checked both full- and low-power FM).  The station ID says nothing about call letters; it calls itself “BART-FM” though.

Yes, all signs point to this being a pirate station.  It does broadcast NPR news summery at the top of the hour, but you can probably get the stream off NPR’s site.  The station also mentions a bank as its lone sponsor.  Well, we just heard someone tell Bill Moyers that banks are the new mafia, so they will do business with pirate stations.  Oh, this station does share one thing in common with legal stations:  It doesn’t answer e-mail.

If you want to listen to this station over the Net, go to SHOUTcast (shoutcast.com) and search for BART-FM.

Party On [June 2012]

iPartyRadio (ipartyradio.clubjam.com) is back on-line.  Now based in New York, iPartyRadio enjoyed a five-year run that ended in 2010.

Back to Life [April 2012]

Two more terrestrial stations from top 20 markets have come on-line recently.

WPTY Long Island, N.Y.

As we stated last year when WPTY abandoned its dance format after 13 years, some stations have dance in their DNA and will likely return to their roots.  Well, after experimenting with gold-leaning rhythmic AC for a couple of months, WPTY started playing Avicii’s “Levels” in January.  It is now officially a dance station again.

KDHT Denver

This is the first dance station in Denver since KXDC changed format in 2003.  Let’s hope KDHT will last longer than KXDC’s one-year stint.

Interestingly, the impact of two additional full-time stations on our Megamix page is not as great as one would expect (for those fearing the worst).  Four artists will make our survey this week because of them:  One Direction, Karmin, Jennifer Lopez, and Drake.  At least two of these artists would probably have made the cut eventually without the panel change.  As you can guess, WPTY and KDHT play it safe and spin mostly the same hits that every other dance outlet is playing.

Leaving Las Vegas [February 2012]

To no one’s surprise, the number of terrestrial dance stations in Las Vegas has dropped from two to one.  What is surprising is that Highway Radio experimented with its dance format for only two months and 10 days—that’s about the longevity of a Kardashian marriage.






Megamix Panel Updates [November 2011]

With so few terrestrial dance stations in America, chances are you listen to dance radio via the Internet, that great equalizer when it comes to radio in general.  So in addition to the changes in Las Vegas, we’ve added more stations that reach their listeners mostly over the Net.

KBPA-HD2 Austin, Texas
Surge Radio
Radio Danz

This may be the first time an HD2 channel is part of a national survey.  For a niche format like dance, we feel it’s important to keep fine-tuning the panel.  Or we just like to live dangerously on the bleeding edge.

Speaking of Megamix updates…we now use SoundCloud links when YouTube isn’t available.  Note that we’ve also fixed some broken video links along the way.  Memo to the Internet committee:  There ought to be a way to flag broken links automatically every time a Web page is displayed (a red pointing finger?).

Another Party’s Over [November 2011]

For most of the last 13 years, WPTY was the dance station based in the Long Island area in New York.  For the last few years, it also served up a side of hip-hop.  WPTY exerted disproportionate impact on national surveys because for a while it gave its top tracks over 70 weekly spins.  We used to joke that record promoters should target WPTY first for that reason.  Like WKTU New York, it will probably return to dance in the future.  It’s in their DNA.

Dancing Las Vegas [November 2011]

In a span of three months, the number of dance stations in Las Vegas went from one to zero to two.  When KVBE changed format last June, Las Vegas was without a dance station for the first time in three years.  Then almost immediately the owner of KVBE turned its other station in Vegas into a listener-controlled dance station operated by Jelli.  And in September, Highway Radio, which owns a network of stations that broadcasts along I-15 between the California border and Las Vegas, flipped one of its stations to play dance music full time.

We’ve stated earlier allowing the public to completely control the playlist is not necessarily a good thing—assuming Jelli is true to its mission.  We remember some people were quite upset when The Beat channel went off the air after Sirius merged with XM.  The Beat only had a 20-song playlist.  While we said good riddance to The Beat, some listeners were screaming bloody murder.  Maybe Rick Dees was right when he said people don’t want to listen to the same 10 songs over and over—they want to listen to the same nine songs over and over.

This is the first time in years when you have two terrestrial dance stations in one market.  But local listeners should enjoy it while they can.  Highway Radio has already retooled its dance format (having second thoughts?).  And we predict the Jelli-operated KYLI will give up within two years.  After all, the owner had already tried dance at KVBE for three years.

Megamix Changes [July 2011]

You may have noticed we added WBZC Pemberton, N.J., to our panel.  This station actually started playing dance music back in 2006.  Like most college stations, it was also playing other types of music.  But now it is programming at least 50 hours of dance music every week, so we thought it was time to reconsider this Philadelphia area station.

KVBE Las Vegas may have dropped its dance format in June, but the owner has flipped its other Las Vegas station to dance—with a catch.  The new 96.7 KYLI is supposed to be totally listener-driven.  Building consensus may be a good thing in politics; programming a radio station by committee is not a good idea.  Nevertheless, we’ll keep an eye on this station.

Negative Vibe [July 2011]

We can’t say we’re surprised KVBE Las Vegas has dropped its dance format.  Here’s a station that played mostly dance oldies for two long years before getting down to business last August.

And the Florida Beat Goes On [May 2011]

Ever since WPYM Miami almost single-handedly revived dance radio in the U.S. in 2002, Florida has maintained some dance outlet.  The latest addition is Florida Beat Radio (floridabeatradio.com).

The Last of the Golden Voices [January 2011]

If you turned on your TV last week, you no doubt saw the story of Ted Williams, the Columbus, Ohio, homeless man who was a radio announcer in the 1980s.  Some people have compared the latest Internet sensation to Susan Boyle because his velvety baritone is in stark contrast to the disheveled panhandler videotaped by a local newspaper.

A decent voice used to be a prerequisite to work as radio airtalent.  That is no longer the case.  The defunct KNGY Bay Area used to employ a DJ who sounded about 14.






Rolling the Dice in Vegas [October 2010]

After playing mostly dance oldies for two years, KVBE Las Vegas (945thevibe.com) finally added more current tracks in August.  Note that vibevegas.com no longer redirects to the right Web site.

Something Mild [July 2010]

A new dance-leaning station made its debut over the July 4 weekend. It’s 102.7 WWAC Atlantic City, N.J. (wild1027.com). Don’t get too excited because 1) it’s in a small market (No. 141) and 2) it plays lots of remixes of top 40 songs and hip-hop artists (we heard Eminem and Nicki Minaj). Yes, it sounds like a clone of WPTY Long Island, N.Y. The name “Wild” is a clue as that moniker is a popular choice for hip-hop stations in the last 25 years. Isn’t it time to retire that name?

A Measure of Competition [June 2010]

When it comes to broadcast ratings, two names dominate: Nielsen for TV and Arbitron for radio. Last year, Nielsen began a radio ratings service for some of the smaller markets. Arbitron is a little vulnerable right now as some radio corporations have complained about its new methodology (participants wear a tracking device instead of keeping a diary).

Nielsen’s venture into Arbitron territory is a logical move since the company (after merging with BDS) is already one of the two radio airplay monitors in the country. We use weekly airplay information from Mediabase for our Megamix page.

Curiously, neither Nielsen nor Mediabase publishes real-time airplay data, leaving this potentially lucrative market to smaller companies. We link to Yes Networks on our Airplay page (http://simdanceairplay.blogspot.com).

Dance-sizing [June 2010]

The downsizing of dance radio continues. WMPH Wilmington, Del., is the third longtime station—and fourth overall—to go under since last September.

This is really too bad because it had the longest playlist among dance stations. The only silver lining is that WMPH’s former station manager has set up an audio stream to keep the beat of Wilmington going.

Party's Over [May 2010]

Without any warning, iPartyRadio.com has ended its five-year run.

Attitude Adjustment Required [April 2010]

A record promoter recently wondered why so few songs, in his opinion, garner airplay on the majority of dance stations in the U.S.  That may be true technically (though it’s odd to expect uniformity among such a small number of physical and Internet stations).  But when we look at what gets played on American dance radio, it’s clear that top 40/hip-hop artists make up what we call the lowest common denominator.  So far in 2010, 50 percent of the most popular songs on dance radio are top 40 hits or remixes of top 40 songs.  So even if they don’t get played on every single dance station, they get enough spins to jump out as a typical station’s security blanket.

The framing of this promoter’s question also seems to imply there’s something wrong when dance stations don’t all play the same songs.  Well, it’s a good thing they don’t.  The problem with established radio formats—from top 40 to country to modern rock—is that they’ve become so homogenized.  It’s time for people like this promoter and countless program directors out there to change their attitude and stop worrying about what everybody else is doing.  Programmers should play at least five songs each week that are not and will probably never be part of the station format’s national chart.

Back to Life [April 2010]

New York has a pulse again.  Pulse 87 (formerly WNYZ-LP) is back on the air as a Web station.  Refer to our Dance Radio Guide for more details.

We Hear You [April 2010]

Per Joel’s request, we have added Radio Danz to our Dance Radio Guide.  We have also added Funkyhotmix (now part of Hotmix Radio).  Paul recommended this French site in 2005, but back then we excluded Web-only stations based outside the U.S.  Go to Discussion Board (click on Boxes) and join our forum.






Another One Bites the Dust [November 2009]

With the loss of a second dance station in as many months (WNYZ-LP New York just ended its 21-month stint), the biggest "winner" in all this is WPTY (formerly WDRE).  This Nassau, N.Y., station clearly dominates the shrinking airplay panel because its top songs get quite a few more spins each week compared to other stations (will this spark a spin race?).  WPTY's program director must be a very popular guy right now.

But the beat goes on at stalwarts like KNHC Seattle and WMPH Wilmington, Del.  So support these public stations if you can.

And while we have your attention...we'll be doing some housekeeping soon to prepare for the new year, which means we'll be deleting some of our 2009 Facebook Notes.  So tell your friends to check out our Facebook page now.

Updates [October 2009]

- KNHC Seattle becomes the first U.S. station to play Taio Cruz.  Next to DMX, you can usually count on this station to add a few tasty tracks beyond what's marketed by record promoters.  KNHC is the only one playing Christian Falk/Robyn, Toby Emerson, and Dash Berlin this year.  BPM was on the leading edge before the merger.  [See September 23 Note]

- Joey V, the former KNGY DJ with the typical radio voice, has landed a job at KMVQ San Francisco.  By the way, KMVQ-HD2 is currently playing dance music (movin997.com/pulse).  [See September 11 Note]

- Major Laser's "Keep It Goin Louder" is a top 5 club hit.  Billboard's club panel gets it right...once in a while.  [See August 24 Note]

- If you missed Gossip's recent performance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," you can watch it on his YouTube channel.  [See August 24 Note]

- WNYZ New York's plan to clone itself in Washington, D.C., and other markets is on hold.  [See July 30 and April 23 Notes]

- Anjulie's "Boom" is featured in the promotional spots for ABC's "Eastwick."  You won't hear it much longer as this new series will probably be canceled soon.  [See June 23 Note]

KNGY (10/2004 - 9/2009) [September 2009]

As expected, the new owner has decided to pull the plug on KNGY's dance format.  Well, at least KNGY lasted longer than the two previous Bay Area dance stations.  Memo to Ed Stolz:  Mainstream top 40 has not done well in this market since the 1970s.  Good luck with the new KREV (927rev.com).  And forget about hip-hop--not with a weak signal against the likes of KYLD, KMEL, and KMVQ.  Go to http://simkpti.blogspot.com and read our review of a decade of dance radio in the Bay Area.

Last Dance? [August 2009]

Shall we start the KNGY deathwatch?  As the new owner takes over this month (refer to our July 30 Note), we're prepared for the inevitable.  Even though KNGY is an average station, losing a dance outlet is never a good thing.  If the new administration wants to know how to turn this station around, let's talk.

Slight Tremors on Both Coasts [July 2009]

San Francisco's KNGY has been sold.  The station was No. 38 in the June ratings (No. 48 in the San Jose area).  With these numbers, the new owner will likely make some changes.

Meanwhile, WNYZ New York has reported problems with its creditors.  Then why did the company sign that lease for WDCN Washington, D.C., three months ago?  Can someone confirm if WDCN is indeed playing dance music?

25 Years of 'Dekadance' [May 2009]

Tune in to "Dekadance" (myspace.com/dekadude) on Friday, May 22 at 9 PM PDT and celebrate the little college program that's been on the air for a quarter century.  "The Drum" (myspace.com/kevvy_kev) is also turning 25 this year.  What were you doing in 1984?  Or maybe your parents hadn't even met.

Heard It Through the Grapevine [April 2009]

Since the demise of KNRJ Phoenix and SIRIUS The Beat last year, we've been waiting for another dance station to fill the void (don't know why KVBE Las Vegas remains gold-oriented one year later).  Well, the wait is almost over.  The owner of WNYZ-LP [TV] New York has signed a deal to launch a "Pulse 87"-like station in Washington, D.C.  WDCN-LP [TV] should start spinning dance records in June.

Back to the Future in the Bay Area [April 2009]

Two venerable mix shows are back on the air (since March 2009):  "House Nation" (housenationsf.com) and "Subsonic" (live105.com).  Yay!






Year in Review [2008]

SIRIUS and XM completed their merger in November.  The bottom line for dance radio:  At one point before 2008, there were as many as nine different dance channels on XM and SIRIUS (including three oldies stations).  After SIRIUS acquired XM, only three dance channels survived.  The only thing we were grateful for is the fact that the new company decided to keep XM’s BPM and drop The Beat, the former SIRIUS channel with an extremely short playlist.

WNYZ-LP New York switched to dance in February.  What’s unusual about this dance station is that WNYZ is actually a low-power TV station.  KVBE Las Vegas also switched to dance in May.  After six years, KNRJ Phoenix ended its dance format on Halloween.  And, as we mentioned above, three dance channels on SIRIUS and XM were phased out in November.

To ensure the survival of KNHC Seattle—school funding being the way it is—everyone who listens to this station’s Internet broadcast should make a donation.  Washington companies should lend a helping hand, too.  Does RealNetworks have a foundation?  Rob Glaser must have something to compete with the Gates Foundation.  KNHC is like a teacher’s pet:  you wish other terrestrial dance stations could be more like this high school standout.  And while you’re at it, you should support WMPH Wilmington, Del., as well.






Year in Review [2007]

The biggest news in 2007 was the proposed SIRIUS-XM merger.  Except for the two companies involved, almost everybody else was against it.

The other big story that affects music in general was the pending royalty hike for U.S. Webcasters.  It was greed that killed the physical single.  It was greed that contributed to the decline in CD album sales.  And it’s greed that’s hurting Internet radio.  Go to savenetradio.org for more information.

Webcasters are not the only ones getting squeezed.  The recording industry is lobbying to make terrestrial radio stations pay performance royalties (traditional radio has only had to pay the songwriters historically).  On the one hand, it seems only fair that if Internet radio has to pay performance royalties, then perhaps regular radio should too.  You may not care what happens to the large corporations that own most of the commercial radio stations in the U.S.  But the proposed change currently has no waiver for college stations and other public organizations.

The industry’s aggressive posturing could backfire if some lawmakers rethink why any broadcaster should pay performance royalties at all.  So while artists and record companies try to triple the fees for Internet radio and collect from terrestrial radio for the first time, it’s only a matter of time before songwriters demand a royalty raise.

By year’s end, some royalty issues remained unresolved.






Year in Review [2006]

KENU Enumclaw, Wash., the lone AM station devoted to dance music since 2001, switched format.  WJND-LPFM Orlando gave up after just one year.  And WTBT Saginaw, Mich., dropped the beat after only a few months.  Citadel Broadcasting flipped one of its dance-leaning stations in Louisiana to something else in September.

With the concerted effort to launch digital HD radio this year, seven more current-based dance channels were added—in addition to the two that debuted last year.

Kudos to Billboard for removing WKTU New York from its dance radio panel.  This station is way too gold-oriented to be included.






Year in Review [2005]

Despite enjoying its best ratings last summer, South Florida’s WPYM, partly responsible for the return of dance radio in the 2000s, changed format in February—it will live on as an Internet-only dance station.  Then 10 days later, Dan Balan (o-zone.go.ro) and Lucas Prata (lucasprata.com) performed their English version of “Mai Ai Hee (Dragostea Din Tei)” on “The Today Show.”  Now that we didn’t see coming.  Most dance stations played the original Romanian version by O-Zone last year; only KNHC Seattle added the English version as well (refer to <a href="http://siminthemix.[bbss].com">In the Mix</a> for more details).

After losing WPYM, Florida regained a dance station when WJND-LPFM Orlando came on-line in April.  Citadel Broadcasting added another dance station in Louisiana in June.  The whole “diva” brand and pink Web pages are a bit too campy.  If they don’t take their format seriously, will their listeners?  In September, WTBT Saginaw, Mich., became one of the few small-market dance outlets in the country.






Let's Dance [2002]

A funny thing happened in 2002:  Five commercial FM radio stations in top 25 U.S. markets switched to an all-dance format.  This is the most significant development in the history of dance radio since the late 1970s.  [Editor's Note:  Even though some notable dance stations have come and gone—KXDC Denver, KDLD/KDLE Los Angeles, KKDL Dallas, and WPYM Miami—the beat goes on—with a little help from satellite and digital HD radio.]  So while dance music will probably never completely recover from the early 1980s backlash, at least it’s back on the airwaves.

Coincidentally, the Recording Academy (grammy.com) moved the best dance recording category out of the pop division in 2002, a move that meant the nominations for this Grammy would be in the hands of a smaller group of more qualified voters.  The dance recording and remixed recording Grammies were added in 1997—the former is essentially the reincarnation of the best disco recording category introduced in 1979 and discontinued thereafter.  The best remixed recording was originally known as best remixer for the first four years.  The Dance Music Hall of Fame (hybridlinks.com/dmhof) held its inaugural ceremony in New York, and the Recording Academy added the best electronic/dance album category in 2004.

If awards are only as meaningful as the nominations, then the Recording Academy has much to learn from Dance Music Awards (dancestar.com).

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