Stop Programming Based on What Other Stations Play By Andy Meadows

As a consultant I program in all the major formats and a few niche ones as well. To do this I have to keep track of a ridiculous amount of new music. So, to make that manageable, and most importantly to determine which songs truly are getting some traction with the public, I’ve developed a system to track all the new music that comes out across digital platforms each week. After doing this new system for about a year now I’ve noticed some patterns. At any given time there are about five to seven songs getting airplay on most new music stations that aren’t really popular among the masses. Plus, they’re not just unpopular at the time they’re added, many of them remain so throughout their run in the station’s current categories. Sometimes this is compounded by the fact that a couple of songs that are legitimately gaining traction are left off of the same stations’ playlists. 

Why is this happening? Mainly its because many radio programmers are still watching the airplay charts and going with the theory that if the majority of other stations have added it, then it must be popular. Its easy to say ‘what’s the big deal, it’s only a couple songs?’ But, when those handful of songs are in high rotation categories, those tunes fill a lot of clock positions every single day. 

On the bright side, I have seen a lot of positive adjustments from radio stations reacting to how music is being released in 2021. Many have dropped antiquated artist separation rules to react to how artists are now releasing their own songs and collaborations. Plus, stations are adding songs earlier and staying on them longer when they identify a song that has struck a chord with the audience. Others are seeing past the labels, record reps and manager’s persuasive propaganda to recognize when a star’s career is beginning to fade. 

As a programmer who’s been doing music logs for over 25 years now, I understand that old habits can be hard to break. But, I’d be a fool to not react the how the world has changed around us and stick to the way I’ve always done things. I’ve said it before, but its worth repeating, in the radio business if we aren’t constantly getting better we’re consistently getting worse because it’s a safe bet that not all of our competition is so complacent. The only way we get better is by taking every opportunity we can to learn, adapt and evolve. 

What do you think? Comment below or email me at

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