An Interview With Allan Sniffen Of – Playing What “Oldies” Stations Use To Play.
Conducted By Gary West @ mrpopculture.com and www.mrpophistory.com
Mr. Pop – Allan, you have quite an Internet history, dating back to 1996.
Allan – Yes, that’s when I began a website dedicated to the most popular top-40 radio station of all time, WABC, New York. The inspiration came from another website dedicated to top-40 legend CKLW, Detroit. I was inspired by what I saw and thought, “if CKLW, why not WABC?”
Mr. Pop – And the rest is pop history. You followed that with a site dedicated to rival WMCA, then began a message board dedicated to radio, particularly, New York radio.
Mr. Pop – All inspired by postings from the original NY radio message board.
Allan – That’s correct. Posters came from radio, the industry, the media and beyond.
Mr. Pop – All of these online products come directly from you. You even host your own server, which you maintain and administer. Plus, this is not your day job. It must be a ton of work.
Allan – Hopefully, I’ve gotten a little better at it.
Mr. Pop – You’ve brought a whole lot of people together. It’s been amazing to watch. Now, you’ve added an Internet radio station. That’s a whole different dynamic. What was your inspiration?
Allan – It was a consequence of what I saw happening to “oldies” radio.
Mr. Pop – So, “Rewound Radio” is in the true of spirit of a top-40 oldies station playing the hits of the 1950’s into the 1970’s?
Allan – Yes – and a lot of that has disappeared with the advent of adding 1980’s music. Oldies radio is now called, for the most part, “Classic Hits.” I don’t think that 1980’s music fits well with preceding decades.
Mr. Pop – What exactly has happened to the rock-n-roll oldies station of say, 1985?
Allan – They dropped way-back on the 1950’s, cut back on the 1960’s, increased the 1970’s and put the 1980’s in. You put a 1980’s hit next to a 1960’s hit – and it doesn’t sound right. You can debate good, bad or otherwise. I don’t see the 1980’s music as having the right sound. I understand why they’re doing it – demographics and advertising, but – I’m not a fan. I wanted to create an alternative for those who felt the same say.
Mr. Pop – How many songs in the “Rewound Radio” 1950’s-1970’s rotation?
Allan – About 2500 songs.
Mr. Pop – That’s quite a bit. I remember oldies stations playing as little as 600 to 700 songs in their format. Do you rotate them in and out?
Allan – I’ve added more than I’ve taken out. For example, I don’t play as many summer songs in the winter and winter songs in the summer. Also, I’m trying to get the greatest amount of time before repeating any given song, while keeping the format familiar. That doesn’t sound as easy as you think. For example, you can play a bunch of esoteric songs – familiar to some, but not to others. One of the things about the oldies format is… it has to sound familiar.
Mr. Pop – So, how often does the average song repeat?
Allan – I have one music category that rotates about every 3 ½ days – and that would be music from the Beatles, Stones, Motown – the most familiar.
Mr. Pop – The main library.
Allan – Yes, then I have a music category which rotates through 5 ½ to 6 days. The thing about Internet radio is – it’s a TSL format.
Mr. Pop – TSL for time spent listening, where you should keep the listener longer.
Allan – That’s correct. You don’t have a lot of people coming and going. What you do have is people turning it on, and leaving it on. When you have a TSL format, you can’t repeat too much. With broadcast radio – there’s more available listeners. Not so for Internet radio, so you have to keep them longer.
Mr. Pop – For anybody considering starting an Internet station, what do they have to do?
Allan – First off, there’s the copyright fees. I pay about $1,500 a year and that comes with a whole lot of paper work. That would go up once you start selling advertising. Paper-wise, the second year wasn’t so bad, because all the research was behind me.
Mr. Pop – Does it take any kind of tech savvy to set-up an Internet radio station?
Allan – Only if you’re going to stream it out with your own equipment. That’s what I’m doing. I have my Shoutcast server – which then sends out my programming to the Internet. So yes, if you do it that way, you’ll need to know a little about Unix and server-side language.
Mr. Pop – What if you’re not into that?
Allan – You can use a service such as “Live365.” They take care of it, but you pay them.
Mr. Pop – What do you use to rotate the music?
Allan – I use something called “Station Playlist.” It plays the music, the jingles, does the crossfading and the audio processing.
Mr. Pop – Nice! There’s nothing worse than hearing something suddenly go louder or softer. Audio processing is important.
Allan – Oh yes – you really need that because mp3’s can be all over the place.
Mr. Pop – So, “Station Playlist” lets you set up your music rotation?
Allan – Yes, it has a programming component called “creator” and that’s where you set up your music categories; where you want the jingles to play and so on.
Mr. Pop – The jingles sound fantastic. They must be the great work of Jonathan Wolfert at JAM in Dallas.
Allan – He did me a terrific favor and gets full credit. I didn’t suggest anything to him and of course, the jingles really add to the sound of “Rewound Radio.”
Mr. Pop – Any oldies radio listener would love “Rewound Radio” and of course, anybody can visit the and its associated boards, any time. Thanks Allan for your time today.