10 other ways to make listeners say

h Ww!”


“Fighting to stay free”                                                                                                                                             #159...December 2011



And now, ladies and gentlemen…

  …in a world where being able to hear just about any song ever recorded has become easier than ever, the “Oh Wow” concept seems outdated. The element of musical surprise decreases as listener control increases.

  Case in point: on my Sunday radio program, I count down the British top five hits on the calendar date for some year during the 1960s or 70s. Last week I commented to an in-studio guest that back then, the only way to hear these songs was to find a store that sold imports. Now all you have to do is find a channel that plays Brit hits or Google them.

  Even for passive radio listeners, the “Oh Wow” songs that play aren’t as “Oh Wow” as they used to be. When mega-owners and consultants give the stamp of approval to the same 200 70s/80s/90s songs that should only be in the rotation now-and-then, or just weekend-ed, P1s have become conditioned to expect these songs, so goodbye element of surprise.

  What to do? Find other ways to elicit excitement. Among those, other ways to do that with music. You may not agree with many of these, and you’ll have ideas of your own (likely more PPM-friendly), but what the heck, this is what makes Hz So Good so fun.    



“Moves Likes Jagger” is an open invitation to every Hot AC to make it theirs by using by inserting “Mick sound” (a la the video clip) or, better still, to mash-up with the Stones. To my ears, a sped-up “Emotional Rescue” could be laid over the whistle track. I figured I couldn’t be the first person to think of this, but I’ve yet to find anything close to what I just suggested.



If you know what listeners watched last night, why just talk about it the next morning? Why not strip memorable Big Bang Theory or American Horror Story dialogue between songs, or inside of them? Which leads to…



Jumping back to “Jagger”…the other afternoon driving home, I heard it on four Top 40s within the same 15 minutes. The only clear differentiation was one station pitching it faster. If you know you’re going to be one of many music choices playing the same song, why wouldn’t you do something different before or after, if not with it (as in #1)? Like what? Like, ‘lifestyle jingles,’ which play better to the audience by using soundbites, clips of other songs, anything that relates to the target. A way to say “we know who you are, Pandora et al don’t.”



I understand that Sirius Hits 1 can look for hits and play what commercial Top 40s can’t because it isn’t living in a PPM world. And I’d like to ask, so? Top 40’s - make that every station’s - success has always been helped by the “we’ve got something they don’t” positioning. Euro-hits not yet here are still up for grabs, as are oldies a few times removed from the over-tested.



Why doesn’t anyone remix oldies and alternate the versions so they won’t burn to a crisp so fast? I have no idea whether anyone liked hearing the original album version of “Crimson and Clover” when I played it last Sunday, but I sense that’s a step in the right direction. Contemporary stations already do this to some extent because labels give them plenty of other versions.



It feels as if YouTube and other sites have stolen radio’s thunder. With clever writing, radio can steal it back both on-air and online. It’s more creative to spoof a song than its video. We shouldn’t have to wait for Weird Al.



Howard Stern perfected this, but no one’s done it well since. Take the unpopular opinion on the key issue in a major news or entertainment story, that is. Howard could pull this off because listeners/fans got the joke. But that’s not to say others can’t try it too.



I would argue that talk radio isn’t doing this well anymore since every show’s basically the same. So it’s up to music radio to get people talking, whether with celebrity interviews or, more likely, home-grown between-music commentary and bits. Watching Good Morning Vietnam again made me realize how far we’ve fallen.



In a digital and collab-at-the-drop-of-a-hat world, one artist can take over a format’s currents. Right now at Top 40, this artist is Rihanna, with six songs in play and a new album out any day. From what I hear, stations are just a step away from “Ririmania.” Of course, this type of excitement would be more pronounced if the artist were new, like the Beatles when everything went crazy in 1964. Bottom line is, excitement is contagious when done well.



Back when I interned at a top 40 powerhouse and answered the phones during lunch, there’d be calls asking for the title or artist of songs heard. While that’s far less likely to occur today, there are still elements of any station or service that make a listener wonder what he/she’s hearing. It’s an angle worth working for longer drop-ins, spoof songs and other oddities.


I feel as if I’ve just scratched the surface. Got a few of your own? By all means, share. And let me know if you feel some (or all) of these are ineffective.


More “music”

We haven’t done this in awhile, so…sorry, Maroon 5 guys.


It’s not that the Stones

Don’t have talent

Just rather watch old

shows of “Dallas”

I’m loving J.R.

A steak and cigar

Now that was a star

(whistle here)


An oil man with mucho intel

To always outwit the cartel

A 10-gallon hat

Can’t argue with that

Is Lucy still fat?


And it goes like this…


Take me to Southfork and I’ll show you

Just like J.R., I bought and sold you

With the moves like Hagman

I got the moves like Hagman

I got the moo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooves like Hagman


Snooki’s mean but hell, J.R.’s meaner

You could say he’s no Texas wiener

With the moves like Hagman

I got the moves like Hagman

I got the moo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooves like Hagman

The brash derring-do of a Ewing

Was no telling who he’d be screwing

It’s just like before

Sue Ellen’s a whore

And she’ll drink one more


Got shot but the man is still standing

Sent Gary and Val to Knots Landing

Bobby’s squeaky clean

And Cliff Barnes’ scheme

Was all just Pam’s dream


And it goes like this… (chorus)


(Sue Ellen)

You sure do know

How to drive me mad

I tell you that

You’re not John Ross’ dad


And I bet you’ve had sex with

Every girl in Texas

If there’s a home you’ve wrecked it

You sent me straight

To the loony bin

But I got out and I

crashed your Mercedes Benz


And if I drink while pregnant

You’re running for the exit

You’re so damn egocentric


And it goes like this…


And the hits…

I’M 54 WITH A BULLET  The Billboard Top 40 Update e-newsletter (like this used to be), a twice-weekly which launched on November 7th, includes a commentary column called “The CHRonicler” in the Thursday mid-week update. The photo which runs there shows the columnist showing off a “tattoo” of “#1 with a bullet” the way it currently looks on Billboard’s charts. Below left, the shot that didn’t make the cut, of the author with the “early bullet style” tattoo.

  Many pains will remember that the term “bullet” originally referred to the enlarged dot next to records on the “Hot 100” which were certified Gold by the RIAA. Apparently, r&r folks got in the habit of referring to the “star performer” songs showing rapid upward movement as being, for example, “#29 with a bullet.” Billboard eventually followed suit and flipped the star to a “bullet” (see author again, below right), but that was still long after Pete Wingfield’s 1975 hit “Eighteen With a Bullet.”

Before                      After

(Look out, Kat Von D)


  You can sign up to get Top 40 Update here. http://www.billboard.biz/newsletters  And see the latest “CHRonicler” here. http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/billboardbiz/photos/pdf/TFN_43_mid%20(3).pdf


HEAVY MEDICARE THUNDER  This has to be Steppenwolf’s worst nightmare. Or is it?

  Chances are you’ve seen the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield TV spots not only using the song “Born to Be Wild” but also the phone number 1-855-BORN2BWILD. I get it, the target identifies with the song. And yes, it’s an “Anthem.”

  It’s also a timeless anthem, or so I thought. Does “Born to Be Wild” no longer cut across generations? Are kids laughing at the irony of this song being used like this?

  I’m sure everyone who was involved with “Born to Be Wild” isn’t laughing or shaking their head, because, well, Blue Cross is putting money in their pockets. Surely nothing to be scoffed at in this era, regardless of one’s convictions. The thought was probably, if Blue Cross wants to use the song, more power to them.

  But it really compromises everything “Born to Be Wild” has ever stood for. You think?


77 WITH A WHOLE LOTTA BULLETS  Here’s where you go to vote for this year’s Top 77. http://www.musicradio77.com/guestbook/addguest.html  And here’s where you’ll hear the resulting countdown and all the songs during the December holiday week. http://rewoundradio.com/  Any questions? Well, here’s where to ask those.  http://www.musicradio77.com/bobboard/wwwboard/bobboard1.html   


THESE “BOOTS” WERE MADE FOR HAWKING   Anyone else reminded of the old Puss ‘n Boots brand cat food while watching the Shrek spinoff character, and now star of his own movie, shilling for Friskies?

Puss ‘n Boots: All gone


FACE THE MUSIC    Alright already, I’m on Facebook. Happy now?  http://www.facebook.com/richappel7

  The best thing about Facebook, LinkedIn (I’m there too) and other such online networks is that you can get people to say nice things about you without having to die first.


THE SHOW GOES ON, ALRIGHT   If you like listening to (mostly) oldies radio on your computer, give it a try if you haven’t already. The Rest Of The Week with Rich Appel airs Saturday 6am-1pm and Sunday 10am-3pm (for the older oldies) at http://www.WRNJ.com. Countdowns, curveballs, contests and commentary. And over Thanksgiving weekend’s Sat-Sun, we’ll celebrate the first Thanksgiving – in 1621 – by playing only songs that reached between #s 16 and 21.

  You can even follow me on Twitter, http://twitter.com/#!/@Restoftheweek. So many ways to--





Click Also, the 2012 edition of the I.R.S. (It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit) appears in April-May 2012 edition of Hz So Good.