Friday, December 15, 2017



Marlin Taylor at the 2015
Broadcast Pioneers of
Philadelphia Hall of Fame dinner

One of the things I enjoy about writing this blog is the people I meet. Today I’d like to introduce you to Marlin Taylor, one of the giants of our business. You might say that Taylor is the Father of the Beautiful Music format but his legacy is so much more.

In 1961 Taylor was programming WHFS, the first FM Stereo station in Washington, DC and was preparing to start a new, similar station in Philadelphia, WDVR. During that time Taylor met Jerry Lee and recommended him to David Kurtz, the owner of WDRV. Lee was named WDRV's Sales Manager.

Taylor and Lee built WDVR, now WBEB, into one of the most influential and profitable stations in the nation. Together they popularized Easy Listening formats and helped established FM stations as a major factor in the radio business. 

Some observers say Taylor and Lee “saved the FM band” and set the stage for FM’s rise in the 1970s with album rock music.

Taylor was also one the first satellite radio format programmers. He created three channels for XM between 2001 and 2004. Those channels –  1940's/Big Band, Easy Listening and Southern Gospel – are still among the most popular channels today on SiriusXM.

After more than a half century in radio programming, management and consulting, Marlin Taylor is still a keen observer of the business. He gives advice to his many friends in the biz, publishes a blog [link] and will release his memoir – Radio...My Love, My Passion – in early 2017.

Taylor wrote Spark News with this comment:

COMMENT:  I can attribute much of my success in life and radio broadcasting to having a fairly logical mind and an intuitive sense about audience tastes and desires.

In all my years of programming Easy Listening/Beautiful Music, both on FM stations coast to coast and then satellite radio ... we were the go-to option for escaping not only unwanted talk but even music stations under certain circumstances, such as commuters turning to us to calm their nerves in stressful traffic situations.

To me, in 2016 classical benefited from many people being tired of the news being dominated by politics and the election, so chose to "escape" by turning to the best alternative, music - classical if you will, for those who don't care for contemporary. That's the primary reason classical would see a decrease in listenership in 2017.

KEN SAYS:  I decided to investigate Taylor’s theory that listeners do seek “shelter from the storm,” that they actually do listen more to stations airing calmer music when the news turns ugly.

I chose ten typical Classical music stations and found Nielsen Audio PPM data for each station from November of 2015, 2016 and 2017. Then I did the math. As you can see on the chart on the left, four stations (marked “Yes”) had more estimated weekly listeners in November 2016 than they did in 2015 and 2017.

Another four stations (marked “No”) did not have more listeners in 2016.  Two other stations (marked “Maybe”) had more weekly listeners to 2016 than one of the other years.

My analysis shows that there is not enough information and there are too many other factors to say conclusively either way.


We received two anonymous comments regarding two items in our post of 12/5/17 [link].

One commentor wrote regarding our coverage of WBEZ having more weekly listeners in November 2017 than they did in 2016:

COMMENT: WBEZ’s boost is probably due to the success of the Cubs. In 2016, they won the World Series and in 2017 and they didn’t in 2017. That meant that in Fall 2016 there was less time listening to WBEZ because lots of people listened to Cubs games.

KEN SAYS: You have a good point.  With PPM technology, I believe this could traced.  Perhaps someone with access to the full Nielsen Audio data can check this out for us.


The other comment concerned the cost of leasing the 105.5 FM translator serving Washington, DC. Radio Sputnik is paying $30,000 per month and the former client, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, paid the translator’s owner much less:

COMMENT: I was under the impression that when a translator is operating in the commercial part of the FM band (which 105.5 FM is), if they are repeating a noncommercial station the translator owner can only charge enough rent to recoup operating costs. If the translator is rebroadcasting a commercial station (such as Radio Sputnik) they can charge whatever they want to.

KEN SAYS: Yes, you are correct. Thank you for adding to the discussion.


Our 11/21/17 coverage [link] of research about why people don’t like radio  commercials included respondents listenimg to simulated stop-sets of typical radio commercials:

COMMENT: Did the simulated broadcast stop-set include one of those unholy 1-1-887-Kars4Kids spots?

KEN SAYS: Good point! I once told someone that 1-887-Kars4Kids was one of the reasons I like working in noncommercial radio.

I decided to do some quick research to find out where the 1-887-Kars4Kids commercials come from. Here is a portion of the information on Wikipedia [link]:

Kars4Kids is a non-profit national car donation organization based in Lakewood, New Jersey and Toronto, Ontario.  It donates most of its proceeds to Oorah, an organization whose mission is to give children and families opportunities to connect with their Jewish heritage and traditions.

Kars4Kids is well known for its jingle 1-877- Kars4Kids. The organization says the jingle was written by a volunteer in the late-1990s. The tune is adapted from a Country music song.

The jingle has become the subject of jokes and ridicule. Critics have called it “an assault on the senses.” In 2014 Saturday Night Live used 1-877- Kars4Kids as the basis of a comedy sketch wherein the song was used by the CIA as an enhanced interrogation techniques. The jingle is also know as a very successful fundraising tool.

The internet has many parodies of the jingle.  For your Friday laughs, here is one of the best ones:

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