Changes in Cumulus CHRs?
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Thread: Changes in Cumulus CHRs?

  1. #1

    Changes in Cumulus CHRs?

    In late January, the CEO of Cumulus Mary Berner announced that she was going to give more control to the local markets in terms of song selection.

    For about two weeks in February, my Cumulus CHR started sounding really good, almost like it did under Citadel. It was very current with more personality. It has since reverted back to the typical gold-based Cumulus playlist that it's had since 2012, with a tight selection of currents with a heavy mixture of gold rhythmic tracks going back to the early 2000s. I think there is slightly less gold now than there was prior to the tweak, but it still sounds bad. I have come to the conclusion that its not necessarily how much gold they are playing that makes it sound bad, but how far back they are going. They have a 'Throwback Thursday', which there is no point in being that they play the same throwbacks every day, every hour.

    Personally I think in terms of their gold playlist it would sound much better if they would focus on older songs from THIS decade. Going back five years is acceptable. Going back 20 years isn't on a Top 40 station, especially every hour. My station ignores more recent gold and instead opts to play overplayed garbage from the early 2000s like "Hot in Heere" by Nelly or "In Da Club" by 50 Cent. Meanwhile, there are plenty of songs that were huge between 2010 and 2015 that are never played anymore.

    Has anybody in other markets noticed any changes in Cumulus CHRs? Has yours gone more current or has it remained gold-heavy?
    Last edited by bchristi; 03-07-2016 at 06:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by bchristi View Post
    In late January, the CEO of Cumulus Mary Berner announced that she was going to give more control to the local markets in terms of song selection.

    For about two weeks in February, my Cumulus CHR started sounding really good, almost like it did under Citadel. It was very current with more personality. It has since reverted back to the typical gold-based Cumulus playlist that it's had since 2012, with a tight selection of currents with a heavy mixture of gold rhythmic tracks going back to the early 2000s. I think there is slightly less gold now than there was prior to the tweak, but it still sounds bad. I have come to the conclusion that its not necessarily how much gold they are playing that makes it sound bad, but how far back they are going. They have a 'Throwback Thursday', which there is no point in being that they play the same throwbacks every day, every hour.

    Personally I think in terms of their gold playlist it would sound much better if they would focus on older songs from THIS decade. Going back five years is acceptable. Going back 20 years isn't on a Top 40 station, especially every hour. My station ignores more recent gold and instead opts to play overplayed garbage from the early 2000s like "Hot in Heere" by Nelly or "In Da Club" by 50 Cent. Meanwhile, there are plenty of songs that were huge between 2010 and 2015 that are never played anymore.

    Has anybody in other markets noticed any changes in Cumulus CHRs? Has yours gone more current or has it remained gold-heavy?
    http://kchz.tunegenie.com/

    95.7 seems to sound worse lately, mainly because it focuses too much on overplayed recurrents that are on other stations like "Shake it Off" and "Shut Up and Dance." I actually thought when they added more golds in line with other Cumulus CHRs around the country it sounded better, like "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit, "Forever" by Chris Brown and a few other songs. Nowadays, it's kind of a more "vanilla" CHR, and the ratings show it.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by tall_guy1 View Post
    http://kchz.tunegenie.com/

    95.7 seems to sound worse lately, mainly because it focuses too much on overplayed recurrents that are on other stations like "Shake it Off" and "Shut Up and Dance." I actually thought when they added more golds in line with other Cumulus CHRs around the country it sounded better, like "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit, "Forever" by Chris Brown and a few other songs. Nowadays, it's kind of a more "vanilla" CHR, and the ratings show it.
    I don't know. There really is a fine line. If you are going to be gold-heavy, how far do you go back and what do you play? I think one of the biggest problems with Cumulus has been they go back too far and some of the songs in their gold rotation are dated rhythmic tracks which have not aged well and have no place on a CHR in 2016. If I was programming a station for instance, I might play "Forever" by Chris Brown, but wouldn't play "Drop It Like Its Hot" by Snoop Dogg.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bchristi View Post
    Personally I think in terms of their gold playlist it would sound much better if they would focus on older songs from THIS decade. Going back five years is acceptable. Going back 20 years isn't on a Top 40 station, especially every hour.
    Historically, CHRs never went back very far for golds once the format morphed from the old top-40 format of the 1960s and 1970s. I worked at a CHR in 1984 that went only as far back as 1979 for its two golds an hour, except for morning drive which had more songs dayparted out of it and so went back about another three or four years to compensate. I was later PD of that same station and we tightened it further ... to go back only about two years all day, and dropping gold entirely between 6:00 and 9:00am.

    At twenty years, you're getting into songs that simply don't flow with your currents and recurrents. And that risks every gold being a potential tune-out for your listeners. I don't know why the station you describe is doing that, but perhaps there is something their research has turned up which makes it justifiable.

    But generally speaking, 20 to 30 years back is Classic Hits territory, not CHR.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by K.M. Richards View Post
    At twenty years, you're getting into songs that simply don't flow with your currents and recurrents. And that risks every gold being a potential tune-out for your listeners. I don't know why the station you describe is doing that, but perhaps there is something their research has turned up which makes it justifiable.
    I completely agree with this. For the couple of weeks when they were current I enjoyed listening, but now I tune out every time a song like "Hot In Heere" or "Big Pimpin" comes on. It doesn't flow well with the currents and recurrents and makes the station sound like an iPod shuffle. The station has been doing this since 2012 however when Cumulus took away local control and consolidated it to Jan Jeffries. The ratings tanked as well after they made that change.

    I think two years is good with five being acceptable. I think a station should be careful with song selections going back further than five years, especially rhythmic material. The station has a Throwback Thursday, which is acceptable to play those songs that are between 10 and 20 years old, but ONLY on Thursday should they be played. NOT every hour every day. As is, I don't see the point in Throwback Thursday since their playlist is pretty much the same every day.

    Currently, the station probably averages one song per hour that goes back farther than 10 years, while the rest of their playlist is current and recurrent. Recent gold (which would flow much better with the currents and recurrents) seems to get ignored.
    Last edited by bchristi; 03-07-2016 at 07:29 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by K.M. Richards View Post
    Historically, CHRs never went back very far for golds once the format morphed from the old top-40 format of the 1960s and 1970s. I worked at a CHR in 1984 that went only as far back as 1979 for its two golds an hour, except for morning drive which had more songs dayparted out of it and so went back about another three or four years to compensate. I was later PD of that same station and we tightened it further ... to go back only about two years all day, and dropping gold entirely between 6:00 and 9:00am.

    At twenty years, you're getting into songs that simply don't flow with your currents and recurrents. And that risks every gold being a potential tune-out for your listeners. I don't know why the station you describe is doing that, but perhaps there is something their research has turned up which makes it justifiable.

    But generally speaking, 20 to 30 years back is Classic Hits territory, not CHR.
    Our CHR, Mix 93.3 would go back during dayparts all the way in 2013 playing songs like "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure, "Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow, "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order, and many other of the kilt from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., mixing them in with current singles. They would also around 3:20 p.m. play an obscure oldie, even picking something like "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen one day--this feature was five days a week.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by tall_guy1 View Post
    Our CHR, Mix 93.3 would go back during dayparts all the way in 2013 playing songs like "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure, "Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow, "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order, and many other of the kilt from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., mixing them in with current singles. They would also around 3:20 p.m. play an obscure oldie, even picking something like "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen one day--this feature was five days a week.
    Sounds like a Hot AC, but if its Cumulus, that sounds about right for how they program their stations, especially under Jan Jefferies when they were committed to that way of programming CHR.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bchristi View Post
    Sounds like a Hot AC, but if its Cumulus, that sounds about right for how they program their stations, especially under Jan Jefferies when they were committed to that way of programming CHR.
    It was actually a Wilks station, which is pretty much a small company that runs the exact same way Cumulus does--as low-budget and conservative as possible. The station was more of an Adult CHR much like WZYP. However, since Steel City took over, its really mainstreamed.

  9. #9
    Hello. Anyways, here to discuss my local Cumulus CHR/Top 40 station, 104.1 KRBE in Houston:

    Ever since John Kilgo took over for Cumulus during the summer of 2013, KRBE has definently gotten better. In bchristi's thread started back in 2012 about how bad Cumulus runs their CHR stations, a major point of discussion was how they would play a lot of pop/rhythmic tracks from the mid-to-late 2000's, and while I can definitely say that was the case with KRBE during the Jeffries days, that has definitely stopped ever since Kilgo took over. KRBE has also gotten faster with adds, but the biggest improvement they have made is how they handle current Rhythmic/Urban music. When Jeffries ran the show, they were extremely conservative with what rhythmic tracks they added, and not even the biggest of rhythmic hits could get into power rotation on Cumulus stations, plus on pop songs with a guest rapper, they would remove the rap verse. Nowadays though, they are not afraid to jump on Rhythmic songs and put the big rap hits on power rotation and leave featured rap verses in songs whenever they come up. However, KRBE still has a lot of room for improvement.

    Even though they are faster with adds than they were during the Jeffries era, they still aren't as fast as they should be for a station in the NUMBER SIX (!!!!) ranked radio market of Houston. According to allaccess, KRBE on average only have about 20-25 currents in their top 50 at a time, even though a major market station should definently be averaging 25-30 currents AT MINIMUM! The last thing that they could improve on is playing a wider variety of recurrents. I just started noticing this sometime last year, but it really seems like when it comes to recurrents, KRBE specifically chooses to focus on songs that peaked 4-8 months ago on CHR. Again, according to allaccess, "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd is NUMBER THIRTEEN on their playlist. I love the song and all, but no CHR station should have a song that peaked in August still in their top 15 in March.
    Last edited by jt99; 03-18-2016 at 11:59 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jt99 View Post
    According to allaccess, KRBE on average only have about 20-25 currents in their top 50 at a time, even though a major market station should definently be averaging 25-30 currents AT MINIMUM!
    At any given time, there are somewhere around 15-17 true testing currents (depending on when you think a current becomes a recurrent) and there will be somewhere around 5 new songs that have not yet matured enough for callout. So 25 or under is likely the right quantity.

    That said, from the demos, it is obvious that the station behaves a bit like a hot AC station, with its best performance in 25-34 and 34-44 females, and the 18-24 being considerably lower. However the power rotations are definitely CHR-like.

    The last thing that they could improve on is playing a wider variety of recurrents. I just started noticing this sometime last year, but it really seems like when it comes to recurrents, KRBE specifically chooses to focus on songs that peaked 4-8 months ago on CHR. Again, according to allaccess, "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd is NUMBER THIRTEEN on their playlist. I love the song and all, but no CHR station should have a song that peaked in August still in their top 15 in March.
    If they do callout, they play recurrents in proportion to appeal. There is no rule that a song has to become a recurrent after 12 weeks or whatever. I have seen songs stay as currents for well over that arbitrary, record company instigated 3 month period. And I have seen recurrents hang in for much longer than 6 to 9 months if they keep testing and don't develop burn.

    There also seems, from daypart analysis of the currents, to be a number of songs that are dayparted or only part of mix shows (if they have them...).
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