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August 7, 2014 9:25 PM  #1


Quickhitz

By now everyone will be aware that AMP radio in Calgary has adopted the Quickhitz format where they play abbreviated versions of songs, edited down to 1:45 - 2:30 minutes. I guess 3 minute songs have become too long to hold the listener's attention. Not my idea of how I want to listen to CHR music. The listener reaction has been mixed-a lot negative, but others who actually like it. However, singer Jann Arden is not appreciative of the new format. Check out her Twitter @jannarden for some interesting and colourful comments.

 

August 9, 2014 9:35 PM  #2


Re: Quickhitz

Been working a bit in Calgary and gave it a listen when I heard they were "uploading" their new format. The songs are these edited versions of the hits so they don't sound chopped out.  If you aren't paying attention you really don't notice it but you notice something is off. 

AMP can make all the claims they want about this format but they can't hide what this is really about.  This is not about more music. This is not about a shortened attention span. It's not about the shortened songs you like; it's about the shortened songs you don't like.  They're hoping you'll stay around for the songs you don't like because they're 2 minutes long.  Maybe, just maybe it'll stop you from changing the station in the car or just going to Youtube.  

A valiant effort no doubt but the irony is great.  It was big radio that pushed CHR to near extinction in Canada. Later when they realize that it was important to get young people to listen (to have a future audience) they brought CHR back.  Only, they discovered it was an "always on" format which required real effort & an investment. So they cut back, slowly..figuring listeners wouldn't notice.  

I remember AMP coming on the air.  In the early stages they made an effort to take a shot at Vibe/Virgin in Calgary (and it worked).  But, as time passed it was like they gave up & dumbed down the station.  The announcer pool seemed more suited to Lethbridge than Calgary.  And rather than invest in an overall quality sound, they gave away boob jobs & burned money in the hopes of using "outrage" to get media exposure. I read a blog from one of the annoucers who was surprised at the anger when they burned $5000 dollars. Really?  You were surprised that a segment of society still had some morals & conscience left because you burned money which could have given some single mother food or clothes?  

Quality never lets you down AMP, just ask Toyota.  And glittering prizes and endless comprimises shatter the illusion of integrity.  

Last edited by Irvine (August 9, 2014 9:36 PM)

 

August 10, 2014 8:30 PM  #3


Re: Quickhitz

I'm hoping that this idea is a publicity stunt, and not a PD's/Station manager's idea of a "winner". It's a stupid idea, and heads should roll.

It doesn't take listeners two minutes to decide if they can tolerate a song they dislike. If they don't hear the hook or catchy chorus in the first minute, they're gone. And if it's a song they like, they're pissed that it's been abbreviated.

On top of that, last time I checked, Canadian stuff has to be played in entirety to count...
(Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Good luck with this idea. If I'm on the CRTC, I'm watching this very carefully and calling for an audit of the programming logs. With that amount of music/hour, that's a lot of required Cancon.   

 

August 11, 2014 12:29 PM  #4


Re: Quickhitz

Imagine 10 cancon songs per hour..240 spins a day. Talk about the tune out factor.  CTV News in Calgary had a poll on this and 90% of the people said they wouldn't like it.  Obviously not their demo but their idea doesn't seem to be well received.   I think the whole idea of outlandish promotions as a way of marketing is better suited to past generations.  

As for how long Cancon had to be played I do think the entire song has to be played.  I recall asking Mark Burley years ago if I could just play pieces of Cancon & I'm sure he replied you had to play the entire song.  These songs are edited by this 3rd party so I can't imagine they're hacking up Danny Fernandes songs







 

 

August 15, 2014 4:42 PM  #5


Re: Quickhitz

Hi Irvine,

Long time reader, first time replier. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


When you have the time could explain you contention that Big Radio drove CHR into the ground? (paraphrase)

Thanks,

Mike

 

August 15, 2014 5:53 PM  #6


Re: Quickhitz

I recall in 1990 and 1991, CHR and AC were slow to embrace the new west coast/Seattle rock sounds then emerging.  CHR stuck with mostly New Jack Swing, while AC adhered to Amy Grant, George Michael and Elton John.  I think this gave listenership a false idea of where music was actually going.

A lot of CHR outlets just figured there was no money and shifted to AC.  So now instead of having live jocks catering to the phones and interacting, we had syndicated material like John Tesh, Delila and the like.  So youth was given another reason to not be engaged by radio.  It really felt as if radio became a little less exciting during those years.

Now in Canada, I know having CHR formats being relegated to AM was a huge additional liability to the format, but in truth, the CHR drain was happening on both sides of the border.  In Buffalo, 102.5 MHz aired John Garribedean (sp?) and his "Open House Party" in 1990.  By 1992, there was some Chuck fellow playing love songs on "Q After Dark".

Nonetheless, I think in the late 90s in Canada, radio made good on trying to revive CHR.  Energy 108 morphed into a CHR (OK that was a sad change if you ask me), but in the larger scale of things, CHR seemed to begin re-emerging in 1998.  Kiss 92 and Energy as a "Superstation" came of that period, and songs seemed to get a bit stronger.  I think a healthy amount of good hip-hop (Laryn Hill comes to mind) and rock revived the format.

So I'd be interested in Mark's take on it too, but that's how I remembering it going.
 


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

August 16, 2014 1:41 PM  #7


Re: Quickhitz

@Jody

You're looking at CHR from a rather local point of view, not one Canada wide. Yes, Top 40 radio did well in the late 90s but by 2003 it was nearly "extinct" in Canada.  I can remember an article on how Eminem was the hottest musician in the world yet you couldn't hear him on the radio anywhere in Alberta.  I think we were down to like 4 or 5 Top 40 stations at one time that were Canadian.  CHR did come back likely because big radio realized without CHR there would be no future audience. 

@Mike.  To continue the above, CHR did return.  Radio began investing money into CHR and the format reappeared.  And big radio did a pretty good job at CHR.  But in the past few years they're faltering.  The lack of talent on CHR is clear in many markets (even major markets). I thought maybe it was me so I listened to old airchecks from the 80s and 90s.  It was not me.  Further, there seems to be no investment in the announcers at all.  What I hear is not topical content but endless discussion of gossip & what Katy Perry was wearing.  That should be included but when that's a break it just means you have nothing to say.  You can't blame rookies for that; you can blame their managers for not guiding them in their careers.  

The downfall of radio is the lack of connection it makes with the audience. I was in Calgary and heard Incubus - Dig on the radio.  It reminded me when I left Waterloo and moved to Calgary. And it reminded me of X92.9 and Josh Holliday.  What a great announcer, a creative, intelligent guy who made me stay tuned in even when they played dribble like the Foo Fighters.  Josh disappeared yet, if his personal website is correct he had numbers which BEAT his own station.  Huh?   In this day and age I rarely get that "connection" with radio.  What I hear is voices back announcing songs or talking about gossip.  I'd sooner have them say nothing at all to be honest.  I already know the song.  

On a typical day I work alone and rarely talk to anyone. I stream audio all day, every day and use my iPhone. I do not have a radio.  Whereas my car radio once had 6 local stations, I'm not lucky to have 6 station apps from across Canada.  The few I listen to all have one thing in common; I connect to them.  CBC is informational and intelligent.  91.5 The Beat has announcers that go beyond just basic gossip.  And my absolute fav is 102.7 The Peak which I stream but can listen to on FM.  I like the music and I like the "Vancouver" feel to it.  The announcers are my "friends" & all of them emulate a level of intelligence.  

Music & radio is a personal thing.  You enjoy it best alone.  Therefore, it needs a personal connection to the audience. That has slowly eroded away to where there is very little connection.  Oh sure, people listen, but it's forgettable.  There are online shrines to CHUM AM, CFNY and Energy 108.  There will never be online shrines to AMP radio.  

 

August 17, 2014 8:35 AM  #8


Re: Quickhitz

Irvine wrote:

@Jody

You're looking at CHR from a rather local point of view, not one Canada wide. Yes, Top 40 radio did well in the late 90s but by 2003 it was nearly "extinct" in Canada.  I can remember an article on how Eminem was the hottest musician in the world yet you couldn't hear him on the radio anywhere in Alberta.  I think we were down to like 4 or 5 Top 40 stations at one time that were Canadian.  CHR did come back likely because big radio realized without CHR there would be no future audience. 
... 

No Mark, I am not only seeing the CHR drain from a local point of view.  The fact that I can only provide local examples from 1991 was because; well, that was all I could hear (unless I just didn't know how to stream on my 386 running MS-DOS 3.30 at the time  ).  But in the 1990s, CHR was in peril on both sides of the border and from coast to coast; make no mistake about that.  In fact, I'd wager that the format was in worse health back then than in 2003 (I'll get to that),  In 1991, I remember radio industry types signalling that New Country may very well become the Top 40 of the 90s.

No, my mistake was confusing which period of CHR decline you were referring to.  My feeling in 2003 was more that radio was fast becoming more niche formatted, as opposed to CHR as we knew it was actually dying.  If I may pull another local Ontario example, Kiss 92.5 started leaning Urban that year (I can't recall if that was meant to take on Flow), but that didn't seem to work for Rogers, so then came the Jack format.  They needed results quick, because listerners were migrating elsewhere.  But where?

While there was an absence of a CHR formatted station around here post 2003, would you not agree that Hot AC captured some of that playlist (a la CHUM-FM)?  Also, during the 2002 - 2007 period especially, I recall being more interested in getting music online (from MySpace for example), and I know, so did a lot of others.  iPods emerged during that time.  What I'm saying is, I feel radio didn't abandon listeners as much this time around, as it was listeners left radio to explore unchartered online territory.  There seemed to be more attractive, sexier ways of getting hits, than from the radio.

In fact I'm surprised at the CHR comeback of the late 2000s from that vantage point.  I mean, why would the kids drop their digital players for FM radio?.  I really think it was more to do with new sustainable product (eg. Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce, etc...) which seems to have had staying power.  A lot of these artists emerged in late 2008 and early 2009, and have consistenly charted since.  Earlier last decade, Aguleira, Britney, Avril and the Backstreet Boys just seemed to fizzle.  Successes like Justin Timberlake seemed to find success online (heck didn't he purchase MySpace later on?).  And other artists I enjoyed like Lily Allen (at your recommendation by the way), were not core CHR artists then.

But I do recall the CHR void both times Mark.  The fact that both times the effects were felt across the continent (never mind all of Canada) were not lost on me, I assure you.
 


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

August 17, 2014 10:41 AM  #9


Re: Quickhitz

Irvine wrote:

  These songs are edited by this 3rd party so I can't imagine they're hacking up Danny Fernandes songs
 

They are.

If they didn't, they would have dratically increased their Cancon ratio in terms of minues per hour.
 

 

August 17, 2014 7:52 PM  #10


Re: Quickhitz

@Jody

I think part of the problem with CHR in 2000swas too many stations were playing heavy "dirty south/crunk" which is hard edged rap.  Not every woman wanted to hear "move bitch get out da way" on the drive to work.  Do you remember the early incarnation of 91.5 The Beat?  Not long after the whole world of hiphop imploded.  The hiphop artist did return but they were secondary to David Guetta. I imagine that hiphop would have disappeared because with the US economy tanking it's hard to sell videos where rappers are talking about their cars & bling.  Dance music brought an escape from reality (often what music is for).  EDM style music ended and CHR seemed focused on Indie music.  Rock music had little to do with CHR in the past decade sans the Capitol Cities/Lorde kind of stuff. 

With Kiss and FLOW, in 2003 FLOW was a real urban station (circa G98.7).  KISS leaned urban because that was the trend then (though near the end).  By 2005 you were seeing major NYC and LA rythmic CHR's getting hammered in the ratings.  CHR in Canada joined the "rap revolution" after it peaked and ran on fumes.  One by one those urban leaning stations went mainstrean (think Bounce, Vibe, Beat in Van, etc).  KISS just changed formats.  

As for "FM" young folks don't know what that is.  They know they have a local station but they likely listen on the computer or on their iPhone.  I read a study about a year ago that showed that more people listened to radio online at night than over the air.  I'm definitely one of them.  The only radio I have is in my car & I drive that car so little it gets a coat of dust in the condo parkade.  

As for the major "brand names" of CHR are they really that popular?  The way I judge the popularity of a song is by its Youtube plays. Sometimes it seems CHR programmers cling on to "brand name" Top 40 artists like Beyonce yet their Youtube streams are relatively low (comparitively).  If you've noticed of late the hottest Top 40 is that of "unknown" artists.  

As for you saying radio didn't abandon it's audience I'm glad you mentioned Myspace. Radio did abandon it's audience Jody just like Myspace abandoned it's users. Myspace & radio share similiarties in that their decline was about their own poor product quality.  For the most part they destroyed themselves & some enterprising tech people saw a need & fulfilled it.  It's no secret that FM radio was incredibly slow to embrace technology. It was slow with streaming. It was slow with texting. And it was slow with social media.  And, in the case of smart phones, some stations still require you to download a master app and then search for the station.  Are you kidding me?  

PS, glad you liked Lily Allen. That was stuff I found while at CJIQ programming my own show. I'm much less intense musically now (just a listener) but here's a couple of decent indie tunes I like that I think have great potential

Boy & Bear - Southern Sun 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3q_SchLR0I

War on Drugs - Red Eyes.  This takes a bit but I think it sounds like early New Order if Bernard Sumner could have actually sang.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LmX5c7HoUw

 

August 19, 2014 4:23 PM  #11


Re: Quickhitz

According to CBC, AMP radio has given up the idea of "QuickHitz" and returned to being a regular CHR.  Link below. 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/amp-calgary-radio-station-gives-up-on-short-songs-format-1.2741026

 

August 19, 2014 6:22 PM  #12


Re: Quickhitz

I don't know where all of the lawsuits from artists are coming from.  Stations have created customized radio edits for years, in addition to receiving radio versions from the majors.  How is this new, other than every song is now subject to editing?

We have a whole forum dedicated to it right here that I participate on.
http://www.top40musiconcd.com/forum/forum_topics.asp?FID=8
 

Last edited by Jody Thornton (August 19, 2014 6:24 PM)


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

August 20, 2014 9:59 AM  #13


Re: Quickhitz

Hard to say if someone threatened legal action Jody. If this wasn't a stunt, perhaps the "legal action" is just a public excuse for the change back. We all know that corporations do not admit failure. If it was a stunt it sure was a time intensive stunt and they lost their PM Drive guy to boot (DJ Kav).  

AND..if this wasn't a stunt & it was a failure, why are no heads rolling?  I've did work for 100+ corps in my career.  When people mess up on a major scale they usually get pushed out the door.  Funny how a manager blows up a station & keeps his job but an announcer is blamed because the format has pulled down ratings.  hmmmm.  

I see people saying it's a good stunt because it caught attention?  Really?  AMP usually does outrageous stuff and pisses people off.  How is pissing people off good business?  Does Rogers Cable now teach business classes to radio management?  When they burned $5000 bucks a lot of people were outraged.  Did they give thought to how those people viewed the station afterward?  Don't you want your customer to LIKE your business?  I know personally I was once a pretty big fan of AMP. The amatuer sound & stupid contests etc just made me indifferent to the station.  There are so many choices out there so why listening to something that you just don't like?  

 

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