Thursday Open Thread

I’ve just gotten back from a vacation in Orlando, where I listened to country radio for the first time in years. Apparently, country radio now consists solely of Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift. I heard several different songs from those artists, especially Chesney. Literally, the only other things that came on while I was in the car were Montgomery Gentry’s “Back When I Knew it All” and Blake Shelton’s “Home.”

I thought that maybe I’d hear “Gunpowder & Lead”, but no such luck. Is country radio this repetitive everywhere, or did I just tune in to a particularly dull radio station?


  1. In Philadelphia, country radio is exclusively Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Fatts, and Taylor Swift. The station is unlistenable.

  2. It’s not you–today’s country radio really is that repetitive.

    My country music class and I were discussing Taylor Swift this morning…while a few of the younger crowd liked her, most of us thought she wasn’t at all country. I call her “country’s answer to Avril Lavigne.” And if you listen to/watch her performance from the CMAs in May, she does kinda sound like a teenybopper pop star. [sigh] Sad.

    Have you tried I like being able to program my faves in there so it plays lots of great older country hits…and some alt-country too.

  3. In Maine, I’ve found that the local morning shows tend to play more variety. In Northern Maine, local morning shows have pretty much been replaced by national morning shows, which seem to have less variety. In Central Maine (where I now live), there local morning shows and they even go back in time once awhile.

    I rarely listen to regular radio these days. I am more of an xmradio listener. II suscribe to the online version, because I can just hook it up from my computer through my speakers and I don’t have to worry about the satelite equipment. The only thing that I don’t like about the xm country stations is that they’re all divided into different kinds of country music. I’d like a station that just plays both old and newer music all on one station.

  4. Here in Central Ohio the popular station – plays that mix with their all time favorite pop/country princess Carrie Underwood – occasionally they will throw in something else but not often. They wonder why I sent them nasty e-mails because they cannot seem to get away from 4-5 artists and find something new to play.

    I have been listening to XM and Sirius for years and if I did not have them I would loose my mind — there is only so much you can take of the same artists over and over. I generally only listen to regular radio in the morning when I need the traffic reports and then listen to satellite on the way home, etc. when I am not worried about it any more.

    However, we are lucky to have a second country station which plays “everything country” which includes Conway Twitty, etc. so if I am getting really pissed I turn to them but their news, etc is not as good as the other station.

    The sad part is this is how the recording industry determines if an artist is doing well — and these stations never even give them a chance…..

  5. Yep, same situation here in San Francisco. The local station here (the only one, with another in San Jose, about 45 minutes away) pretty much only plays he upper half of the Top 40. Definitely, though, the concentration is on the few artists you mentioned. And as others mentioned, the Queen of Overplay is Carrie Underwood. It’s to the point where I hear the first beats of “Last Name” and immediately switch the station. I did hear the station play Jimmy Wayne’s new one last night, which was a pleasant surprise.

  6. When I was in Seattle, KMPS plays a lot of newer artists. In fact they were the first station to play Dierks Bentley in regular rotation. Anyway, they do still have ‘core artists’ but that’s to be expected from any station (after all, they’re playing what they feel will keep the people listening to the commercials). It’s an interesting conundrum.

  7. Thankfully, the main two stations I listen to in the car here in the D.C. area seemed to improve their breadth of material a lot in the year I was off at college; they’ve now started occasionally dipping into the upper reaches of the charts, although they still only play those songs that listeners phone in a lot of support for. That said, I think that most of their listening audience (that phones in, anyway) seem to be randy housewives who all have crushes on Trace Adkins, James Otto and Chuck Wicks plus their tween daughters who consistently holla for the Swiftmeister. Not that I have a problem with either demographic; it just gets homogenous.

  8. I started listening to country radio about 1 ½ years ago and started going out the web about a year ago to learn more about country music. On sites comparable to this one, the first thing I was hearing was that country radio sucked. I was kind of baffled at first, but it didn’t take much longer for me to get it. I still listen to radio some, usually when I am in the car. The station I listen to usually won’t play a song much until it makes the top twenty. It does mix it up with older songs. I know that drives some people crazy, but as a newer listener, they are new to me so I can handle it.

  9. How do folks think this can be changed? Or is it ‘just the way things are’ now? Which is pretty sad if true–I think what people are describing is one of the reasons why a lot of people say they’ll listen to ‘anything but country.’

  10. It all radio stations it seems. I have yet to find one that can go just one hour without Taylor Swift, Carrie, or Kenny. I miss the radio from the 90’s, it had way more variety, songs from the old, songs from the new. I have found one good station to listen too. It is by my hometown, and since I listen to I-tunes and Pandora alot it plays those songs. I also try and get on CMT and play Videos I want, you can actually change the station if you start finding sites that will help promote both old songs and new ones that aren’t getting played as much.

  11. I feel like linking this page and sending it to the local deejays on the radio station that I listen to let them know how we all really feel, especially since one of the morning show guys is the programming director —

  12. First off, love the national diversity on this site. Maine, Ohio, San Fran, Seattle, and NY. As a sports fan, I have repeatedly tried to convince friends that NASCAR’s appeal extends well beyond the deep south, and while its not a direct parallel, I think country music is the same way.

    I live in NYC, and I think its a shame that there is no country radio station. I remember Y-107 because Kevin used to listen to it, but that station has been gone for some years. Interesting to hear from you folks as to what country in the rest of the US sounds like on the radio.

  13. I totally agree with you Jim, on the radio stations here in PA it’s exactly the same way. Carrie, Taylor, Kenny, and Rascal Flatts. Then repeat and repeat again. For how long Miranda’s “new” single has been out, I have heard it a total of about four times, one of which was requested by me. It’s a disgrace that country radio is so closed minded and that they will only play the artists they want to. How is anybody supposed to find new artists to like if all they ever hear is the same three or four? I always turn the radio on in hopes of hearing “Gunpowder and Lead”, and I have the same luck as you. I really wish they gave other artists a chance to shine, but I know they won’t so I just listen to Miranda’s album and I hear what I want to hear.

  14. I’m in Canada and while my local station plays all the “commercial” artists mentioned above, they also play some good rootsy stuff too that you just can’t hear on commercial American country radio. The thing that bugs me a bit about this thread (and others like it) is that when folks start bashing radio, they’re sort of being naive….it’s called “BROADcasting” for a reason – to appeal to as many people as possible so the stations’ clents have customers. While it would be swell to have a station that played nothing but Tift Merritt, Ryan Adams and Dale Watson all day long, I don’t doubt that (even in a large market) that said station would be unprofitable and off the air in six months. And is it not better to get an RF or Underwood fans exposed to the good stuff. so that they grow their tastes? God I had a Bobby Goldsboro single when I was 6 or 7 years old…:)

  15. Fair point, Peter. However, I think the complaints are warranted. Sure, radio stations are trying to appeal to the masses and we hope that casual country music fans will hear RF or KC and turn their love of them into love of all things country, but I’m not sure that’s always the way it works out. How will many of those people even get the chance to take the leap from those oft played artists to the ones who are overlooked if the stations that they are listening to never gives those marginal artists any air time? They would have to do a lot of research, which is not always what busy music listeners are apt to do. Furthermore, there are many people who would hear the regularly played artists such as RF or KC and simply be turned off by country music altogether (because they’ll think the station is playing what is representative of the genre) and, therefore, have no desire to look beyond them.

  16. As an addendum to my previous comment–

    Millions of people subscribe to satelite radio. I doubt that people are voluntarily spending their hard earned money just to hear the same 10 artists played. Likewise, I don’t think their just spending it to avoid listening to commercials. So, I figure, though simplified it may be, that they’re spending money to hear more variety. Therefore, I wonder if radio stations could stay in business while spinning a more diverse playlist. I’m sure there are numbers to disprove my point, but it’s just my idealistic view of the situation.

  17. My favorite station, Y108 in Pittsburgh, is very Kenny-heavy, but it has an excellent diversity otherwise. I even kept track while I was in my car gallivanting around the city today.

    Besides Kenny, I heard two songs from both Brooks & Dunn, Keith Urban, Rodney Atkins, as well as Keith Anderson, and NOT ONCE did I hear Carrie, Taylor, nor Rascal Flatts (Thank the Lord on the latter two).

    12:40 PM to 1:10 PM
    Keith Urban – “You Look Good in My Shirt”
    Kenny Chesney – “Don’t Blink”
    Brooks & Dunn – “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”
    Craig Morgan – “That’s What I Love About Sundays”
    George Strait – “I Saw God Today”
    Collin Raye – “I Can Still Feel You”
    Keith Anderson – “I Still Miss You”

    2:20 PM to 3:00 PM
    John Michael Montgomery – “The Little Girl”
    Brad Paisley – “I’m Still a Guy”
    Keith Anderson – “Pickin’ Wildflowers”
    Brooks & Dunn – “Put a Girl in it”
    Rodney Atkins – “Cleaning this Gun”
    Toby Keith – “Beer for My Horses”
    Kenny Chesney – “Anything but Mine”
    Miranda Lambert – “Gunpowder & Lead”
    Montgomery Gentry – “Back When I Knew it All”

    3:25 PM to 4:20 PM
    Faith Hill – “Breathe”
    Trace Adkins – “You’re Gonna Miss This”
    Phil Vassar – “Just another Day in Paradise”
    Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney – “Every Other Weekend”
    Chris Cagle – “What Kinda Gone”
    Eddie Rabbit – “I Love a Rainy Night”
    Diamond Rio – “Beautiful Mess”
    Gary Allan – “Learning How to Bend”
    Alan Jackson – “Good Time”
    Jo Dee Messina – “Bring on the Rain”
    Keith Urban – “You Look Good in My Shirt” (Yes, again. At least it’s a good song.)
    Mark Wills – “Nineteen Somethin'”
    Rodney Atkins – “Watching You”

    I think this has to do with the diversity in those who listen to the station. You have all of the people who work and live in the city, you have your suburban housewives, but you also have a lot of farmers and other people listening in nearby rural areas, as well as Washington, PA and the Laurel Highlands.

  18. What I find truly funny is that the popular station here, has an HD station and if you go online and listen to it, you get amazing song selection, they play Chris Young, and so many other artists that they would never play on their mainstream station, which goes with the same idea that if you are paying money for a good radio then you want to hear better radio.

    Peter – my main issue is with the fact that these stations play the same artists over and over again and do not give any air time to any other artists, who these listeners might enjoy and without being shown who they are they will never find them because not everyone is like us – out here on the net searching out new music and new artists and enjoying our old favorites who are no longer radio darlings –

  19. Part of these complaints may may stem from the fact that US country stations play their “hot currents” some 50 or 60 (and sometimes more) times a week. Most Canadian stations average around 30-40 spins per week. So our friendly neighbours to the south would be understandably PO’ed with that kind of repetition. And Leeann you raise some very pertinent points too – it’s a balancing act worthy of the Wallendas, I tell ya. Music is so subjective that songs you don’t like will be perceived as being played too often and ones you do like, you can never hear enough.

    Love these discussions, by the way :)

  20. and Lanibug you make a good point too – ourt local station will often add new local and other Cdn. acts outta the box and if they don’t “perform” at least they’re in the run for a few weeks.

  21. As a pretty much complete new listener to country, I agree with a lot of the list–first, I’m not really interested in the music that’s on my local country station (mostly contemporary men, it seems). And there doesn’t seem to be any interest in providing informative commentary to listeners on my local station either–i.e. it’s assumed you already know who these people are, and you probably do, as it’s the same core group being played. I’m really interested in being introduced to a whole set of people I may or may not like–I listened to about 4 hours of Pandora a day for about three weeks and it was great to be introduced to new artists that I had no idea I really loved. But Pandora is a computer, not a traditional dj. If you listen to a really good radio dj, they give a few facts about the artist and really diversify what you’re listening too. A little human touch and some great tunes–don’t think it’s too much to ask, and yet, somehow, it is?

  22. As J. Says, “A little human touch and some great tunes–don’t think it’s too much to ask, and yet, somehow, it is?”

    We have two stations in our area (Arkansas) and I totally gave up one because several times a week a song would repeat itsealf back to back. It was obvious no one was there or even monitroing the broadcast. I emailed them a couple of times and got no response so I no longer listen to them. A few weeks ago the other station started a long playlist, uninterupted, and after about 7 songs, the station went off the air for a minute. When it came back on the playlist started over again at the beginning. I listend through 4 songs and then emailed the dj. I did get a response and after going back and forth a couple of times, she admitted to watching American Idol (her favorite show). That is one of the reasons I only listen to the radio on short car trips, to work, running errands, etc. If I’m going to be in the car for any length of time I play my iPod.

  23. These seem like extreme examples. I listen to a variety of country radio stations, just to keep in touch with the tone of the medium, and I haven’t experienced anything near what the likes of what y’all are reporting. What I have noticed is significantly diminishing playlists which focus on established artists. Repetitive? Yes, but look at how long the “average” radio consumer listens to a broadcast…it’s not very long. So that repetition isn’t hitting the largest part of the base.

  24. Satellite radio buffs make a good point – pay for your radio every month and you have the right to complain about it all ya want ;)

  25. While you were here in Orlando you were probably listening to WWKA K-92 FM (92.3) which is as uninnteresting as you describe. When I listen to country radio at all, I usually listen to WPCY 97.5 in Lakeland/Bartow Florida which plays a more interesting mix, plus has an oldies show Sunday evenings which will go back into the 1950s on occasion. WPCV also carries the syndicated SOLID GOLD STURDAY NIGHT

    The stations in Daytona Beach and Ocala are also a bit more interesting than K-92.5 also, although not as good as WPCV.

  26. I thought you knew that – I’ve referenced Central Florida in a lot of my posts

    Anyway I’ll e-mail you my address and phone number so that next time you are down here you can get in touch with me

  27. In Chicago, US99 sucks. They overplay all of the artists above, and will overkill “recent” hits by struggling artists at the expense of giving a new single a chance (they still have “What Kinda Gone” and “Cleaning This Gun” in heavy rotation, at the expense of “No Love Songs” and “Invisibly Shaken”, for example). Last weekend when Chesney/Urban were at Soldier Field, they played nothing but those two artists on Friday and Saturday — even DURING the concert. I wanted to call them and say that those who would be interested in a lineup like that are ALREADY AT THE FRIGGING CONCERT! They were also surely involved in payola when it came to “More Than a Memory” last year.

    Indiana 105 in Valparaiso, Ind., is a lot better. They play a lot more variety (songs from artists that only reached #20 or #25 a few years ago), and actually listen to requests (I’ve gotten “Never Mind Me” played recently). They sometimes even play good songs in heavy rotation that don’t chart nationally, like “Girl on the Billboard”. But they’re not corporately owned, so they have a lot more freedom on their playlist, and it’s much bigger as a result.

    I’m tempted to try to get into radio (I have a meteorology degree and someday want to be a TV/radio meteorologist), but I know that if I was a DJ I’d be very, very constricted by the limitations of my station’s playlist, and I’d refused to get excited when required to play “Bob That Head”.

  28. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in my car commuting to and from work (hey, I live in So. Cal.), so I’m very familiar with country radio’s repetitive nature. Although I don’t listen to it much these days, I do quickly flip through it frequently, and every time I do they are playing a Rascal Flatts song or a Carrie Underwood song. Although we have 2 stations in town, it’s worthless because they play the same thing — and all too often, the same Rascal Flatts or Carrie Underwood song at the exact same time. Thank goodness for iTunes. My CD mixes actually make commuting fun.

  29. I live up in Kahnawake, Canada (just outside Montreal) and we don’t have a full time country station. On the weekends they play country though. I work on saturdays and that’s when I listen to the radio the most, and I like my station. They have a good mix of both old and new. And they don’t constantly play the same songs over and over. Carrie and Rascal Flatts and Kenny do get played a little more often but not as bad as some other stations. Last week I heard some songs I’d never expect to hear on other stations (Lisa Shaffer “Just One” / Allison Moorer “Tumbling Down” / Dwight Yoakam “Blame The Vain” / Jamie O’Neal “Every Little Thing” / Megan Mullins “Cryin’ Days” / Jessi Alexander “Make Me Stay Or Make Me Go”). Then on sunday mornings they play nothing but classic country. It’s how I discovered many of the classics for myself. I just wish they played country all week now.

  30. my radio station in central va tends to be very male heavy… one hour you can hear 12 songs…but generally only 1 or 2 female songs in that rotation

    now seeing that i am a bigger fan of the females in country than some of the males, this tends to get a little aggrivating

    thank god for the ipod!

  31. Itmight have been hard for me to believe Lynn’s claim that she hears the same song on two stations at pretty much the same time, but last Sunday morning, I had my alarm clock radio on (I was avoiding getting up) and “I’m Still A Guy” was on all three radio stations within a 5 minute span.I’d flip from one station and find it was being played on the next station, just at a different spot in the song. I couldn’t believe it.

  32. I have listened to the country station Krty 95.3 in San Jose, Ca for 12 years. They have always played a lot of the old and and a lot of the new. The old includes George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Reba, Alabama, Toby Keith, and everybody else. They also play hits from this year and the last couple of years. I don’t listen to the station in San Francisco.

  33. A lot has to do with the business and who wants to play the game. Radio for the last few years is hugely become a small handful of large conglomerates and radio is “bought” to play certain artists and the circle of influence goes around with the radio programmers, label executives and so on. Radio has lost a lot of creditability.

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