Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Half A Song or Half A Radio Station?

So let's start with the tagline of this story. It's run in a few magazines and newspapers but the gist is always the same. "This Calgary radio station has started cutting songs in half so listeners don’t get bored." First of all CHR/Pop is a pretty boring format. Canadian content requirements can't possibly improve upon that monotonous disaster of a playlist. More here. The original Billboard article praised it like the real deal

"The concept of QuickHitz was born in 2005. That’s when Sean Demery launched a feature called “The 60 Song Music Hour”—where songs were cut down to one minute each—on CBS alternative KITS (Live 105) San Francisco, where he was PD at the time."

The new format is called "Quickhitz." the station is 90.3 CKMP Calgary, Alberta in Canada. Just earlier this month they debuted the format. It ran for 3 weeks and then they quietly reverted to a normal, safe CHR playlist on August 20th. The station's ratings trail behind its CHR rivals in Calgary: Virgin Radio 98.5 CIBK and Kiss 95.9 CHFM. It was probably just a stunt. But the idea has merit. Lets us explore that idea.

First of all they didn't cut the songs in half. They didn't do a hatched job. they spent the time to do decent edits and shave the song down to about 2 minutes each, a reduction of about 30%. It was aimed this increased their number of spins per hour from 12 to 24. It was hyperbole. A hour is comprised of 60 minutes. During morning zoo 8-10 is more likely with the chatter. But in an afternoon slot sure 12 songs is totally plausible with the balance being filled by ads, liners, station ID and mic breaks, etc. 12 song sat an average of 3 minutes each is 32 minutes. An actually sustainable format would not reduce their spot load. If the songs were two minutes long the new hourly playlist would be about 16 songs.

But a modern CHR playlist is only about 120 songs deep. That's pretty shallow if you play 16 songs an hour. That's 364 spins a day. In other words, even if every song was played an equal number of times, each would be spun about 3 times daily. Now all of you in radio know that's not accurate. Some songs are already being played 20 or more times a day on CHR stations. So clearly Quickhitz would either need a deeper playlist or substantially fewer songs in heavy rotation to reduce burn out. But as a stunt it at least made good satire.

Sparknet Communications in Vancouver developed the brand and format. Previously they developed and rolled out the now ubiquitous Jack format, lending creedence to the story. Different parts of their website retain information on the brand but the original site is gone.. but thankfully still cached.