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#1
Old 12-29-2017, 10:03 AM
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Radio Station Selections and Playlists

Does a DJ get to decide what songs to play? If not, who decides this and how? And, does the station manager dictate the playlist for a radio station? (If not, who?)
#2
Old 12-29-2017, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Does a DJ get to decide what songs to play? If not, who decides this and how?
Almost never, and even then, usually only a handful of songs. Most of the songs a station plays are decided by a music director (either locally or for an entire chain) and, in fact, often programmed into a computer ahead of time, so the on-the-air dj not only is told what to play but also when and in what order.

On some occasions a station will let a dj play a new release, or a hot local band or something like that.

The reason for this, more than anything, is the payola scandals of the 1950s, when record companies bribed disc jockeys to play the label's songs. When government tightening regulations didn't really solve the problem, radio stations moved to make a single person accountable for what got on the air. Later on, the notion of a structured, set music playlist became more important and the music director became even more powerful.

The station manager gets to decide the overall direction of the station.

The program director executes the direction ("format.")

The music director plugs the music into that format

The dj delivers it on the air. It's all very logical.
#3
Old 12-29-2017, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Does a DJ get to decide what songs to play?
Not since Johnny Fever.
#4
Old 12-29-2017, 01:02 PM
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What I've always wondered is when someone calls in to a radio station and requests a song on the air, how does the DJ find the song, queue it up and play it so quickly? Especially in the days before computers?
#5
Old 12-29-2017, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Turek View Post
Not since Johnny Fever.
Even then, Johnny was told what to play at certain times. I remember one episode in which Herb was summoned to jury duty. Andy temporarily took over as sales director and appointed Venus as program director in his place. There's a scene in which Johnny is finished playing the record Another One Bites the Dust by Queen and Johnny is bitching over the air about how he only played that song because Venus directed him to.
#6
Old 12-29-2017, 01:18 PM
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There are freeform radio stations you can listen to quite easily, with Djs who are knowledgable. They are non profits and usually associated with a college. Radio by automation seems like a cultural backwater to me. These stations are where ideas are shared. You can search for them at college towns, you can get the apps and hear them all over the world. There are no barriers anymore.

WFMU - New Jersey is the prime example.
WMBR - at MIT is one of the greatest ever.
All the College stations in Boston for instance, are part of a great enterprise that we are lucky to have, and now can be heard all over the world. The limitations of radio don't exist anymore.
#7
Old 12-29-2017, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Soylent Juicy View Post
What I've always wondered is when someone calls in to a radio station and requests a song on the air, how does the DJ find the song, queue it up and play it so quickly? Especially in the days before computers?
Obviously, we do not hear the phone conversation live, but only after the requested song has been located and is ready to be played.
#8
Old 12-29-2017, 02:50 PM
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At commercial stations, they're almost always programmed by a computer based on phone surveys and sales charts and exquisitely designed to return the maximum amount of ad revenue.

There are independent stations out there (KDHX here in St. Louis and at many college stations around the country) where deejays with a passion for the music are given (almost*) free reign to play whatever they want.

*I volunteered with KDHX a few years ago and asked about an album-oriented show. Play one album through, then another, et cetera. I was told that was illegal according to the FCC because it encouraged recording the entire album at home for free. Also, the directors there still want you to pick a format for your 2-4 hour show and not stray too far, so while you can play whatever songs you want, they don't want you sticking a synth-pop song in the middle of your bluegrass program.
#9
Old 12-29-2017, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
At commercial stations, they're almost always programmed by a computer based on phone surveys and sales charts and exquisitely designed to return the maximum amount of ad revenue.

There are independent stations out there (KDHX here in St. Louis and at many college stations around the country) where deejays with a passion for the music are given (almost*) free reign to play whatever they want.

*I volunteered with KDHX a few years ago and asked about an album-oriented show. Play one album through, then another, et cetera. I was told that was illegal according to the FCC because it encouraged recording the entire album at home for free. Also, the directors there still want you to pick a format for your 2-4 hour show and not stray too far, so while you can play whatever songs you want, they don't want you sticking a synth-pop song in the middle of your bluegrass program.
There is a convention now that says that if a station is streaming live they cannot play the same artist more than 3 times in an hour. I have never seen it in writing but I've heard it cited. WHRB the harvard station has had "orgy season" at the end of every semester where they would play the complete works of artists all day and night until it was over. Lately they do a lot of stuff that doesn't focus on one artist. They are still violating a rule if it exists though at some point.

This is not about home taping though because that goes back to the 70s.
#10
Old 12-29-2017, 03:35 PM
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Regarding requests: Suppose a certain song is due up in a few minutes, there's going to be someone who has requested it in the last hour. So, play the request, play the song. Requests for songs not coming up are ignored.

It's no more "requested" than most reality TV shows are "reality".
#11
Old 12-29-2017, 03:45 PM
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Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what the rule is, I was just told they couldn't do it. KSHE in the same town plays whole albums at midnight on Saturdays, but I think they had to get a waiver or something.
#12
Old 12-29-2017, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what the rule is, I was just told they couldn't do it. KSHE in the same town plays whole albums at midnight on Saturdays, but I think they had to get a waiver or something.
I could be wrong but I think the bar on radio stations playing whole albums only applies to recent releases. After an album has been out for awhile (I'm not sure how long), they are free to do it. However, this rule was implemented around 1980 when albums accounted for the largest share of recorded music sales. It may not be as strongly enforced today.
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#13
Old 12-29-2017, 04:56 PM
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Well, I guess that's how it is in the US.
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#14
Old 12-29-2017, 05:03 PM
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Also, at some of the more automated stations, the talent may lay their voice tracks down in advance all in one go. It might take them only an hour or two to take care of the whole week. I understand in those cases, the 'DJ' may do more than one station to fill their time.
#15
Old 12-29-2017, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
There are independent stations out there (KDHX here in St. Louis and at many college stations around the country) where deejays with a passion for the music are given (almost*) free reign to play whatever they want.
In the '80s, when I was in college, I DJed for two years at our campus radio station. We did have a playlist, after a fashion, selected by our music director (it being the 1980s, you can imagine that it was heavy on the alternative-rock / college rock bands of that era, like REM and the Replacements).

For the three-hour shows that each DJ hosted, we were mandated to play at least 3 songs from that playlist (which had about 30 songs). Beyond that, we were given free rein. The station had a big library of old albums and singles, but most of us DJs also brought our own records in to play.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 12-29-2017 at 05:43 PM.
#16
Old 12-30-2017, 12:28 AM
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Stations could always play entire albums. Exhibit A: The Seventh Day, a Sunday evening program on LA KLOS 95.5 where 7 albums were played in their entirety.
#17
Old 12-30-2017, 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Stations could always play entire albums. Exhibit A: The Seventh Day, a Sunday evening program on LA KLOS 95.5 where 7 albums were played in their entirety.
True, but as I said earlier, I think that applies to only older releases. Are any of the albums played on The Seventh Day less than 10 years old?
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#18
Old 12-30-2017, 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by NDP View Post
True, but as I said earlier, I think that applies to only older releases. Are any of the albums played on The Seventh Day less than 10 years old?
Many. The FCC cannot regulate the content of radio stations save for decency and fraud. The reason stations don't play albums or even album sides is because deeper cuts might prompt listeners to switch stations.
#19
Old 12-30-2017, 02:59 AM
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My son was a DJ at a college radio station, and he was encouraged to carve out a distinctive sound during his air time. One year he did world music, and then he got another slot and did Americana (one day blues, one day zydeco, one day ballads, and so on). Or he could decide to focus on jam bands. The station had a DJ that did Celtic music and another one that focused on trad jazz, among many others that played more contemporary pieces, hip hop, whatever.

The radio station had just about everything musicwise. Finding it was the DJ's job and recataloguing it after it had been played was the job of interns who wanted to be DJs. This was a job often left undone, so there would be a pile of recently played CDs--I think they also had MP3s by then--and some of these got replayed because they were handy. He did have to write down everything he played, and he had to do PSAs.

I think the station asked for different playlists during finals. He took requests, and he liked when people called him to request stuff because it meant they were listening.
#20
Old 12-30-2017, 03:27 AM
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I briefly was a volunteer DJ at a college radio station (KNMC, 90.1 FM attached to Montana State University-Northern, Havre, MT) so I might as well talk about the baling-wire-and-duct-tape experience.

My show was late-night on Monday. I had a tiny audience and no guidance on my playlist; in fact, after a brief tutorial on how to work the equipment my first night, I was alone in the booth and, quite possibly, alone in the building. My show was called The Stochastic Hit Parade, after a show on WFMU which I was streaming online at that time, and I just lugged my CD binder full of CDs into the booth and played what I wanted.

I played Hank Williams, Sr., The Velvet Underground, John Prine, Elvis Costello, The Residents, songs from the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Oblio Joes. I played "America" by Alan Ginsberg and "Flash Light" by Parliament, but I don't know if I ever played them back-to-back. I sprinkled in a few PSAs and I was free. (I even chose which PSAs I ran.)

The station had other shows, but it wasn't completely programmed: When nobody was in the booth, a program running on an iMac played a pre-programmed list of MP3s, always in the same sequence. (They might have added shuffle later.)

Large-scale commercial radio and small-scale radio (commercial or not) are barely even the same kind of thing anymore, and the fact the former is probably on its way out doesn't mean the latter has to die, too.
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#21
Old 12-30-2017, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soylent Juicy View Post
What I've always wondered is when someone calls in to a radio station and requests a song on the air, how does the DJ find the song, queue it up and play it so quickly? Especially in the days before computers?
I once saw how this worked. I thinking about a job in radio, and observed a local dj in the studio in 1974.

The request would come in and the dj would say he'd play it.

Then he did nothing..

I asked about it and he said it was a request for one of their top 5 songs. They played it every hour or so anyway, so it would come around eventually.

DJs did have some leeway back then, though a top 40 station stuck with a set playlist each week.
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#22
Old 12-30-2017, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Pork Rind View Post
Also, at some of the more automated stations, the talent may lay their voice tracks down in advance all in one go. It might take them only an hour or two to take care of the whole week. I understand in those cases, the 'DJ' may do more than one station to fill their time.
I was doing some inspection work in a suburban Chicago radio station. While in the break room I was listening to the morning crew do their thing when one of them walked in for some coffee. I must have given him a “WTF?” look because he explained that the mundane banter I was hearing was recorded when songs or commercials were playing. They very rarely ever broadcast live. In fact they had already recorded the entirety of the show. The only reason he was still at the station was in case of a breaking news story that required them to go live.

Later I was walking by one of the studios and saw the midday guy recording his show. This was 2 hours before the show started. Kind of took away the magic of radio for me.

Last edited by Cell Guy; 12-30-2017 at 02:37 PM.
#23
Old 12-30-2017, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Turek View Post
Not since Johnny Fever.
Booger
#24
Old 12-31-2017, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
There are independent stations out there (KDHX here in St. Louis and at many college stations around the country) where deejays with a passion for the music are given (almost*) free reign to play whatever they want.
I was lucky enough to have a radio show where I did have free reign. It ran for 6 years on a 100,000 watt Community radio station (and 4 years on a college station). People asked me why I never tried to become a "professional DJ" and that's the reason. I never could imagine playing music I didn't like. I played a lot of requests for artists (not a specific song), but never the same night. My show ran one night a week and I put the shows together in advance because all the music came from my own collection, even though the Community station did have a library. If it was an artist I didn't have, I'd go to local record stores and buy a record (usually used because I was poor). I had a lot of fun.

I don't know that anyone would be interested, but here are a few of my playlists. I'll put them in spoiler boxes just so no one has to scroll past lists of artist and song names.

This was an end of the decade (a couple of decades ago) show...

SPOILER:
... and I played some favorite artists of the '80s, though not all the songs were my favorites from the artists, but I'd played my favorites recently. Lots of artists I liked a lot were missing because the show just wasn't long enough, like The Sugarcubes, Nina Hagen, Sarah McLachlan, Yaz, Anna Domino, Toni Childs, Hetch Hetchy, on and on and on.

Suspended In Gaffa #95
(Some) Favorites of the '80's
December 30, 1989

Kate Bush......................Night Of The Swallow
Jane Siberry...................The Empty City
Le Mystere des voix Bulgares...Svatba
Cocteau Twins..................Cicely
Monsoon w Sheila Chandra.......Third Eye & Tikka TV
Laurie Anderson................Language Is A Virus
Throwing Muses.................Green
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin..Leipzig
Siouxsie & The Banshees........Cities In Dust
Happy Rhodes...................Come Here
Happy Rhodes...................The Revelation
Happy Rhodes...................Many Nights
Happy Rhodes...................Under & Over The Brink
The Innocence Mission..........Come Around & See Me
Indigo Girls...................Kid Fears
Wendy Wall.....................Wandering The Streets Of Modern America
10,000 Maniacs.................Lilydale
Concrete Blonde................Little Conversations
Virginia Astley................A Father
Bel Canto......................Blank Sheets
Dead Can Dance.................Dawn Of The Iconoclast
Victoria Williams..............TC
Michelle Shocked...............V.F.D.
kd lang........................Tune Into My Wave
Mary Margaret O'Hara...........Dear Darling
Najma..........................Neend Koyi
Area...........................I'll Gather Flowers
Shona Laing....................Soviet Snow
Kate Bush......................December Will Be Magic Again

YouTube playlist (though not all the songs are on YouTube)


The show before that one was a "Christmas" show, but anyone who wasn't a regular listener was probably scratching their heads, because I played no Christmas music.

SPOILER:
Suspended In Gaffa #94
Gaffa In My Soul
December 23, 1989

Excerpt from the film Resurrection
Diamanda Galas.............You Must Be Certain Of The Devil
Zella Jackson Price.........I'm His Child
Judy Mowatt..................Down In The Valley
Zella Jackson Price.........Say A Little Prayer
Texas...........................Prayer For You
Gothic Voices.................O Euchari
Dead Can Dance............The Host of Seraphim
Nina Hagen....................Ave Maria
The Roches...................Hallelujah Chorus
Kate Bush......................Disbelieving Angel
Queen Ida.....................When The Saints Go Marching In
Dagmar Krause..............Lily Of Hell
Nina Simone..................Sinnerman
Zebra Stripes.................Sinners
Madonna.......................Act Of Contrition
Deux Filles.....................Who Art In Heaven
Sonoko..........................In Heaven/Wedding With God
Fibonaccis......................March To Heaven
Eurogliders.....................Heaven
Patti Smith......................Hymn
Christmas........................Hymn
Excene Cervenka..............Here Come The Crucifiers
About 9 Times..................Crucifixion
Concrete Blonde................God Is A Bullet
= Ad for Planet In My Kitchen's "Planet In My Manger" show
Siouxsie & The Banshees....Bring Me The Head Of The Preacher Man
Sister Rosetta Tharpe........Jericho
Sister Rosetta Tharpe........Up Above My Head
Sister Rosetta Tharpe........Fly Away
Sister Rosetta Tharpe........99 1/2 Won't Do
Danielle Dax.....................Big Hollow Man

YouTube playlist (though not all the songs are on YouTube)


This was a Halloween show.

SPOILER:
Suspended In Gaffa #35
Halloween
October 30, 1988

Siouxsie & the Banshees.....Halloween
Toyah.....The Creepy Room
Happy Rhodes.....Asylum Master
Jane Siberry.....The Strange Well
Hugo Largo.....Scream Tall
Nina Simone.....I Put A Spell On You
Carla Bley.....Musique Mecanique III
Danielle Dax.....The Passing Of The 3rd Floor Back
Dead Can Dance.....De Profundis
Diamanda Galas/John Zorn.....Metamorfosi
Kate Bush.....Carmilla
Kate Bush.....The Infant Kiss
Happy Rhodes.....Ecto
Toyah.....Angel & Me
Mary Kelley.....Ghostriders In The Sky
Kate Bush.....Get Out Of My House
Annabel Lamb.....Things That I Fear
Fibonacci.....Old Mean Ed Gein
The World Of Skin.....Blood On Your Hands
Kate Bush.....Mother Stands For Comfort
Fibonacci.....Leroy
Nico.....Janitor Of Lunacy
Siouxsie & The Banshees.....Trust In Me
Happy Rhodes.....I'm Going Back
Kate Bush.....Waking The Witch
Dead Can Dance.....Mesmerism
Diamanda Galas.....Wild Women With Steak Knives
Valaida Snow.....You Bring Out The Savage In Me
Lene Lovich.....You Can't Kill Me
Kate Bush.....Hammer Horror
Santra.....Mein!
Santra.....As A Mirror
Buffy St. Marie.....The Vampire
Siouxsie & The Banshees.....Head Cut
Siouxsie & The Banshees.....Voodoo Dolly
The Shaggs.....It's Halloween!

YouTube playlist (though not all the songs are on YouTube)


Most of my shows weren't themed, but the ones that were were the most fun to do. This one had a space-ish theme. Leaving Earth, bopping around the universe, then coming back, because, it has its good side. Like music.

SPOILER:

Suspended In Gaffa #117
Around The Universe
June 9, 1990

* Song * * Artist *

Goodbye Cruel World - Mary Kelley
Rocket's Tail - Kate Bush
I Feel Like An Astronaut - Fetchin Bones
Postcard To The Stars - Wendy Wall
Picnic On The Moon - Bel Canto
Venus Sands - The Creatures
Mercury Towers - Hex
Solar Choir - The Creatures
Solar Systems - Annette Peacock
Red Planet - Tiny Lights
Jungles Of Jupiter - Toyah
Space Between Rings - Christine Lavin
Planet - The Sugarcubes
Planet In My Kitchen - Siouxsie & The Banshees
Pluto Drive - The Creatures
UFO - Nina Hagen
Starbound She Said/The Stars - Deux Filles
Little Spacey - The Cocteau Twins
Across The Universe - Laibach
My Shooting Star - West India Company
Bengalis From Outer Space - West India Company
Hello Earth - Kate Bush

YouTube playlist (though not all the songs are on YouTube)
#25
Old 01-01-2018, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by NDP View Post
True, but as I said earlier, I think that applies to only older releases. Are any of the albums played on The Seventh Day less than 10 years old?
In 2017, KSHE in St Louis 7th Day program played
Three Days Grace - Life Starts Now released 9.22.2009
Seether - Poison the Parrish released 5.12.2017
Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy released 5.28.2013
#26
Old 01-01-2018, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by rsat3acr View Post
Booger
You can say "booger" - you just can't say...
SPOILER:
jive-ass
#27
Old 01-02-2018, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Pork Rind View Post
Also, at some of the more automated stations, the talent may lay their voice tracks down in advance all in one go. It might take them only an hour or two to take care of the whole week. I understand in those cases, the 'DJ' may do more than one station to fill their time.
I realize that this is what happens, but I still wonder how many hours a week Alice Cooper works to host his syndicated radio show. I know he's not sitting in his studio several hours each weeknight... that his between-songs stories and lead-ins are recorded in advance. But I'm still sort of impressed/amazed that he has his radio show, and he's entertaining to listen to, even if a lot of his stories are about stuff that happened decades ago. Does anyone know what his actual recording schedule is like?
#28
Old 01-02-2018, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Stations could always play entire albums. Exhibit A: The Seventh Day, a Sunday evening program on LA KLOS 95.5 where 7 albums were played in their entirety.
And would that have been the inimitable Jim Ladd?
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#29
Old 01-02-2018, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyMensch View Post
And would that have been the inimitable Jim Ladd?
He was always the M-F 10pm to 2am guy on first KMET then KLOS.

Uncle Joe Benson was the host

http://unclejoe.com/onair/hist.htm

Last edited by madsircool; 01-02-2018 at 02:41 PM.
#30
Old 01-08-2018, 02:08 PM
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Let me ask this: Maybe this won't fly today, but even into the 1980s, they claim DJs are responsible for making some hits, For example, I always heard "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was a duet created by a DJ's creativity. As I heard it, Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand each had their own versions, but a DJ mixed the two to create the well-loved duet. Related to this, I believe I heard some "B" sides became hits thanks to DJs, like Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein". I've also heard that some artists have been upset that too many songs got air play. For example, I seem to recall that Billy Joel did not authorize so many songs to be aired from the "Innocent Man" album. While the latter issue here may not have been radio's fault, is the former part of this question feasible?

Last edited by Jinx; 01-08-2018 at 02:10 PM.
#31
Old 01-08-2018, 02:36 PM
Corellian Nerfherder
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
For example, I always heard "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was a duet created by a DJ's creativity. As I heard it, Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand each had their own versions, but a DJ mixed the two to create the well-loved duet.
I'd not heard that story before, but it appears that there's a grain of truth to it, if Wikipedia is to be believed. However, it also sounds like the actual hit (as a duet with the two of them) was specifically recorded as a duet, though there are apparently some competing stories about who came up with the idea (and who did the original "mixes" of their solo recordings of the song).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Do...ing_Me_Flowers
#32
Old 01-08-2018, 02:46 PM
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A couple of other examples of songs that became unexpected hits due, at least in part, to DJ support: Styx's Lady, and Queen's Another One Bites the Dust (though, again, those are from the 1970s and 1980s).

My suspicion is that, as noted earlier in this thread, with the strong, centralized control over playlists at the vast majority of U.S. radio stations today (most of which are owned by the big radio holding companies), it'd be far, far more difficult for something like this to happen today, at least through traditional / terrestrial radio.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 01-08-2018 at 02:47 PM.
#33
Old 01-08-2018, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyMensch View Post
And would that have been the inimitable Jim Ladd?
If you aren't aware, Jim is currently doing a Deep Tracks show on Sirius/XM Channel 27.
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