In this day and age of satellite and Internet radio, podcasting and digital downloads commercial radio is struggling to stay relevant. In the article "You Don’t Know Jack? Programmers Aim to Introduce Listeners to an Eclectic New Format" author Marc Fisher of the Washington Post notes the debut of three new formats in 2004 of which the "Jack" format is of particular interest to me:
Jack (or Bob or Dave or, even more oddly, Nine) is a format that promises to relieve listener frustration over narrow playlists and break down some of the rigid categories that FM music stations have built up over the past quarter- century. Born in Vancouver and nurtured throughout Canada, Jack is a rock-pop hybrid, a broad format that uses a 3,000-song playlist ranging from ’60s rock to current hits, including tunes that most programmers would segregate among classic rock, alternative, hard rock, contemporary hits or even country stations. Jack stations often sell themselves as "Songs You Can’t Hear on the Radio," and they’ve revived a slew of late ’70s and early ’80s rock hits that are too new for classic-rock stations and too old for more hit-oriented formats.
On a typical hour of a Jack station, you might hear a series of segues that traditional radio programmers would consider one car wreck after another: the Beatles, LL Cool J, Talking Heads, Rage Against the Machine, Moody Blues, U2 and Madonna.
This to me sounds like somebody in commercial radio is at least trying to experiment again which is always a good thing. I love radio and radio done well is so much fun. It would be nice to listen to cool radio and get the traffic report on my way into work without constantly flicking the dial or going from my CD to the radio and back all the time. Could this be the start of a commercial radio renaissance? Only time will tell.