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filmfann's avatar

How extensive should an Oldies rock station be?

Asked by filmfann (44672points) October 21st, 2011

I grew up listening to oldies stations, and I still do. Today, they usually focus on a few songs from the 50’s, lots of 60’s and 70’s, and some 80’s songs.
Now, that is quite a range, and includes a lot of different musical styles that were very popular, from Folk to Funk, Disco to Punk, and old time Rock n’ Roll.
You look at the Top 100 Songs of 1967 and it’s amazing how many good tunes charted, and then consider that Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, potentially the greatest album ever made, didn’t have any singles, so nothing from it is on the chart. Many albums from that year, and others have real depth, and you could play a lot of uncharted songs that everyone would love to hear. The Doors first album, also from 1967, had a lot of great songs I would love to hear on the radio.
Now, of course you are going to weed out the songs that were hits that no one wants to hear now. No one will miss Mitch Miller, or most of Pat Boones’ stuff.
So, if you figure maybe 50 songs from the 50’s, and at least 80 songs from each of the next 20 years, plus many good songs from the 80’s, plus the deep album tracks, you should have thousands of great oldies songs to choose from.
So, how come every time I turn on an oldies station I gotta hear “Sweet Caroline” or “Pretty Woman”?
Shouldn’t they have enough stash to not have to play that every couple hours?
By my math, they play about 360 songs a day. They should be able to go a week without replaying “Hey, Jude”.

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16 Answers

Seek's avatar

Unfortunately, radio stations play only songs that “test well” to a crowd of selected individuals that fall in their target age bracket.

That means a lot of “Freebird” and “Brown Eyed Girl”, and the same five Pink Floyd songs eight times a day.

rebbel's avatar

Ah, it is the same in the USA?
Man, do I get cranky after having listened to Arrow Classic Rock for three days consecutively….
My brother and I suspect them of having a collection of five cd’s.
Pink Floyd, Queen, CCR, Golden Earring, Stones.

dk6hgsds9axe3's avatar

Listen to BBC 6 Music on the net ( – they have a good mix of oldies along with some excellent modern stuff, bur all with an indie-alternative bent. I’m 45 and not a fan of modern chart-music, abnd I love 6Music.

john65pennington's avatar

And….....lets not forget that many of these songs are not on CD OR they cannot be programmed into a stations playlist on a computer.

I was a Nashville DJ for many years in the early 60s.

I totally agree with your thinking. The songs are out there, but sometimes, radio stations get in a “rut” and play many songs over and over. I think people calling in to request a particular song has a lot to do with the playlist programming.

Seek's avatar

The radio stations in my area don’t even take requests. They’re only allowed to play the songs the station’s management has pre-approved.

digitalimpression's avatar

I would like it if there were a 20’s – 40’s station.

The problem is that when someone turns on the radio and tunes to a certain type of station, there are certain songs they expect to hear based on the system @Seek_Kolinahr outlined. On top of that, add in the statistics of how long a person actually listens to a radio station and how frequently.

filmfann's avatar

The bay area had a 30’s and 40’s station for a while, and it was one of the top rated stations.
It had to change formats because, even though it had great ratings, it had an undesireable target audience. Most advertisers know that the 60+ audience don’t spend money in a way that is influenced by commercials, so they find stations with younger audiences.

digitalimpression's avatar

@filmfann Such has been my frequent lament. I’m far below the age of 60, but share a lot of my elder counter-parts preferences in music.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m totally with you. Why can my local alternative/punk radio only manage to play Mumford & Sons and Red Hot Chili Peppers? Seriously, this is why I’ve switched to using Pandora for 80% of my radio listening time.

zenvelo's avatar

There is a station in my area that just “re-adjusted” the oldies playlist to be 80’s – 90’s. There isn’t enough decent music from those two decades to justify a radio station. But I remember listening to “oldies” in the late 60s, and they were less than ten years old.

The problem is the programming is all based on market research. They play the same songs into the ground, then circulate an updated list. The occasional listener has the reassurance of always hearing something agreeable, even if it’s not the best.

@filmfann, I used to listen to KNBR and KSFO when they played big band music. It was a fun change from pop rock. But the ratings numbers meant they had to change or close up.

Seek's avatar

Yeah. I’m pretty pissed – my Classic Rock station just became a generic “rock” station (I disagree with their apparent definition of “rock”) and the 80s station became a top-40-plus-hip-hop station.

Considering the fact that I have a 22 year old car without so much as a cassette deck on board, the selection of local FM radio stations is an issue close to my heart.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Hmm. Our local oldies station is great. I keep the radio in my kitchen tuned to that station at all times, and they play 50s-70s. The variety of music is never a problem, in fact, despite listening to this station for many years I still occasionally hear a song that I don’t know.

amujinx's avatar

I hate that demographics determine what is played. My local classic rock station plays from the 60’s to the 80’s, but the only punk or proto-punk band that gets any play is The Clash (and while I love The Clash, I want more diversity than the 3 main songs from them). Couldn’t they at least work a little Iggy into the rotation? It’s kind of sad that punk and it’s influences are still ostracized by most of the generation that spawned it.

As an aside, I once went to see a local classic rock band once who challenged those watching to find a classic rock band they didn’t know at least a song of. I asked for MC5, but they didn’t even know who they were. Heathens.

Seek's avatar

Ha ha… that’s dangerous. It’s their own fault for being cocky enough to challenge the audience. I hope they were embarrassed.

Brian1946's avatar


“I once went to see a local classic rock band once who challenged those watching to find a classic rock band they didn’t know at least a song of asked for MC5, but they didn’t even know who they were.”

Obviously the motherfuckers in that LCR band didn’t know how to kick out the jams! ;-)

filmfann's avatar

I grew up in Oakland, and I have always listened to rock music, and I have never heard of the MC5.
They do kick out the jams!

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