The Main Players
Just as we should judge people by the content of their character, we should review radio stations based on their weekly playlists, putting aside secondary features such as recurrents, mix shows, and DJs. The quality of a playlist is determined by its length and variety. Any non-oldies station should play at least 30 current or new tracks. We frown on stations that never heard a dance remix of a top 40 hit they didn’t like. In general, terrestrial radio is the least progressive.
Unless the government steps in to force the whole country to convert to digital radio (as it did with digital TV), it seems HD radio will remain grounded in the foreseeable future. Still, some HD2 channels are serious about the dance format. And thanks to the Internet, all stations/channels are equally accessible to listeners all over the world—as long as they offer streaming audio.
Though our scoring system is based on playlist content only, we must say we find it odd that many stations don’t bother to publish a weekly playlist (a real-time playlist is a poor substitute). It’s also somewhat surprising that some stations choose not to engage their listeners using social media. Isn’t something like a Facebook page an essential part of doing business on the Net nowadays?
Well, the radio industry is notoriously slow to embrace new technology. The next time you turn on your car stereo, note all the stations that do not support Radio Broadcast Data System, the text information standard that’s been around since 1992. RBDS (or RDS in other countries) enables radio to display song IDs and other data from stations that transmit this information. Here’s another example: Anyone remember AM stereo?
|Score||Adds ||Bonus Adds ||Main Adds ||Web Site (Simulcast)||Social Meter |
|-||Dance Radio Megamix||-||-||106||23||Year-to-date playlist||S2|
|1||Sirius XM BPM
|B-||27||13||9||Real-time playlist on Twitter||S7|
|2||KXRG-LP Honolulu, Hawaii
|3||WBZC Pemberton, N.J.
(Brett Holcomb) [M]
|B-||45||6||15||Periodically updated playlist||S4|
(Brian DeGrasse) [M]
|5||WNRG-LP Palm Bay, Fla.
(Randy Bennett) [M]
|6||WPTY Long Island, N.Y.
(Matt Goldapper) [M]
(Jon McDaniel) [M]
|C||16||4||6||Listener forum; weekly playlist||S6|
|8||KYLI Las Vegas
(Joel Salkowitz) [M]
|1||KXJM-HD2 Portland, Ore.
|C||17||2||6||Weekly playlist on Facebook||S2|
|2||KBPA-HD2 Austin, Texas
(Krash Kelly) [M]
|4||WPGC-HD2 Washington, D.C.
|D||0||3||2||Periodically updated playlist||S2|
|-||KMVQ-HD2 Bay Area
|-||KKHH-HD2 Houston||-||-||-||-||No playlist||S2|
|2||Music Choice Dance/Electronica
(Mike Schwab) [M]
(Manny Esparza) [M]
(Bernardo Passariello) [M]
|B-||35||10||11||Weekly playlist (Clear Channel HD2 channels in 10 cities)||S4|
|5||AOL Radio Top Dance
(Ken Santarelli) [M]
|C+||31||3||6||Periodically updated playlist||S1|
(Chris Basista) [M]
|C||18||1||5||Weekly playlist (Clear Channel HD2-3 channels in 20 cities)||S4|
(Joel Salkowitz) [M]
(To Kool Chris)
|C||17||0||6||No playlist (WCPT Chicago [overnight])||S6|
|C-||6||2||0||No playlist (WFEZ-HD2 Miami)||S4|
(Will Calder) [M]
Missing KXRG-LP’s adds for the first three months of 2012.
KDHT flipped to dance in April 2012.
Missing Surge Radio’s adds for the first three months of 2012.
iPartyRadio on-line since June 2012.
[M] Megamix panel.
 Songs that have failed to make our Megamix page during the previous six or 12 months.
 Quality tracks that have received fewer than 70 weekly spins from entire Megamix panel (they appear as A-rated Bonus Tracks on our Megamix page).
 Quality tracks that have received more than 70 weekly spins but never made the official national top 25.
 Facebook Likes:
As radio stations fight for listeners wherever they may be, an Internet broadcast is no longer optional. Relying on one of the popular audio players to implement this feature seems like an open solution. But if they really want to make sure anyone can listen to their streaming audio, they should follow YouTube and others and use a self-contained player. That’s because most public computers and some corporate PCs don’t allow users to download and install third-party software. It’s a good Web design rule in general if you can avoid forcing your visitors to download something.
Most stations do offer a stand-alone player that requires no setup; Fusion Radio, 1Dance.FM, WBZC Pemberton, N.J., and KNHC Seattle, are notable exceptions. What audio quality should such a preset player maintain? Anything close to 64 Kbps is a good compromise between quality and bandwidth. Some support the Playlist format, which provides a ready-to-go audio stream—depending on your Web browser. The other thing radio stations should provide is the information regarding artist, title, and mix—right on the audio player page and without the listener having to refresh the screen. And again most dance stations fail to do this. And speaking of bad Web design…white text on black background is so 1970s, not to mention a strain on the eye.
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