Is the Jack phenomenon ushering in a new era of “eclecticism” in radio? I don’t think so.
When Jack first launched, many thought it couldn’t succeed because it seemingly ran counter to the established “rules” of successful radio — Play The Hits and Stay Focused.
But did it really? Not that much.
Let’s look at a recent hour of Doug FM in Detroit…which claims: “We Play…Everything” …
GOT MY MIND SET ON YOU — GEORGE HARRISON
WHO ARE YOU — WHO
TROUBLE ME — 10,000 MANIACS
YOU’RE THE FIRST, THE LAST, MY EVERYTHING — BARRY WHITE
JUST LIKE PARADISE — DAVID LEE ROTH
SATURDAY IN THE PARK — CHICAGO
YOU GOT LUCKY — TOM PETTY
I HATE MYSELF FOR LOVING YOU — JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS
I’LL BE AROUND — SPINNERS
I GOT YOU — SPLIT ENZ
ADDICTED TO LOVE — ROBERT PALMER
TIME — HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH
Everything? Hardly. What we have here is a Classic Hits station that plays a lot of ’80s, is willing to play R&B (it is Detroit, after all) and the occasion marginal cut — in this hour, I Got You. Yes, it has some “car crash segues” — for example, I Hate Myself for Loving You into I’ll Be Around. But they’re just “fender benders”…nothing you wouldn’t have heard on CHR back in the day.
Jack succeeds (when it does, that is) because its attitude — “Playing What We Want,” “Playing Everything,” etc. — appeals to listeners tired of the safe predictability of most stations. But Jack isn’t much of a rebel, really…he’s The Fonz, not James Dean!
The established “rules” of successful radio — Play The Hits and Stay Focused — can rest easy.