Doc: Do you remember CDX?  They used to send out new singles of various formats.  Do you know how I can reach them?  Thank you. - Anonymous


Anon:  I don’t remember CDX CDs, but I was never in programming, so that may be the reason.


Anyway…I set up an Internet search for you that may help.  Click here: CDX CDs.

CDX CDs – Part 2

Here’s a little help in the world of CDX.   I’m not aware if they service formats other than country, however, it’s a great service for non-reporting Country stations that are not serviced by the labels.  Here is their contact information:



P.O. Box 125

Nashville, TN 37202


615. 292.0123 or Fax 615. 292.8750

Celebrity Contacts

Dr. Wimmer:  I am a host of a talk show on the Internet and my focus is feature films.  I have searched continuously for a celebrity contact information service and have found nothing.  I would like to find a service that is free or has a one-time fee type deal, being able to contact celebrities would be the start of something big.  Thanks. - Anonymous


Anon:  For a start, I set up three searches for you that have some interesting looking sources, but I didn’t check them to make sure they’re good.  Try these:


Contacts One

Contacts Two

Contacts Three


Finally, the Internet Movie Database has agent/contact listings for many celebrities, and also offers a subscription service for contact information.  Go to the site and search for any celebrity.  When you get to the information, look at the options on the left side of your screen.  Click on the “Agent” link to find out about contact information.

Celebrity Deaths - Rise?

I have noticed that we have had a lot of major celebrity deaths just this past month alone—two with last names ending in a “K” (Peck/Stack), and two with the same first name “Buddy” (Hackett/Ebsen).  Is this the beginning of a biblical passage perhaps or is it just coincidence? – Steve - Seattle


Steve:  Oh, please.  Don’t make me come out there.  Here are a few points to consider:

  1. The people you use as examples were old dudes.  Buddy Hackett – 79, Robert Stack – 84, Gregory Peck – 87, and Buddy Ebsen – 95.  These guys were not spring chickens.  The average life expectancy for men in the United States is 75.  All four were beyond expectations and were ready to go.  Their days were numbered, so to speak.

  2. The four men died close to each other, but not in the past month: Robert Stack – May 14, Gregory Peck – June 12, Buddy Hackett – June 30, and Buddy Ebsen – July 7.  However, it’s close to a month, so I’ll give you that one.

  3. In the United States, one person dies about every 13 seconds.  That’s about 6,646 per day, 202,154 per month, and 2,425,846 per year.  These men were just among the group who died during the month.  The difference that they were celebrities and their deaths were widely publicized.

  4. The significance of the name similarities is meaningless.  The fact that Peck and Stack both end in “K” and two were named Buddy is pure coincidence.  But, if you’re trying to pull something out of the air to look for similarities, you need to look at their real names.  They are: Robert Stack - Charles Langford Modini Stack, Gregory Peck - Eldred Gregory Peck, Buddy Hackett - Leonard Hacker, and Buddy Ebsen - Christian Rudolph Ebsen.

Hey!  All of them have the letters “C,” “R,” “L,” “E,” “O,” and “D” in their real names.   How many of the other 6,600+ people who died on the same day as each of these men had a name that ended in “K,” or were nicknamed “Buddy?”  How many of the other 202,154 people who died during the same month (roughly) had a name that ended in “K,” or were nicknamed “Buddy?”  See what I mean?  You selected four from a list of over 202,000.


You can find similarities in almost anything if you look hard enough.  The problem is that there isn’t any significance to these similarities.


But wait!  Look at the letters the names shared…C R L E O D.  If you move them around a bit, the letters spell “COLDER.”  And that’s what they are now.  Oooo.  That’s very strange and mysterious.  Again…See what I mean?  You can come up with all sorts of nonsense if you look closely enough.


Thanks for writing…interesting question because it demonstrates how things can be blown out of proportion based only on coincidence.


Now, I hope someone doesn’t write in and say that Nostradamus predicted these deaths.

Cell Phone - Area Codes?

Doc:  Let's see if I can stump you with this question.  Here's my question: When I make a long distance telephone call on my landline in my house, I have to dial 11 numbers—1 plus the area code and the phone number.  Why is it that on my cell phone I don't have to dial a "1" before the other 10 digits to make a long distance phone call?  Any idea? - Nick


Nick: Sorry to disappoint you, but you haven't stumped me on this one.  Here's your answer . . .


Unlike the landline telephone system that was originally set up in areas (or sections) of the country that require the use of the "1" for long distance calls, the cell phone system designed by all cellular companies defines the entire United States (that means Alaska and Hawaii too) as one huge national service area.  When you make a long distance call on your landline telephone, the "1" signals the system that you are making a phone call outside of your own area code. 


On the other hand, since the cellular system is considered as one huge area, cellular phone calls to somewhere outside of your own area code don't require the use of a "1" to connect your call.  In essence, all cell phone calls are considered "local" by all cell phone services, and the cell phone system is capable of identifying a telephone number with only the area code—no "1" is required.


However, the use of the "1" is actually optional on cell phones.  A "long distance" cell phone call will go through regardless of whether you use a "1" or not.  The cell services essentially ignore the "1" if you happen to use it.

Cell Phone Danger

Doc:  I saw a story on ABC about potential problems with cell phones and cancer.  They talked about something called SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) with cell phones and how not all cell phones are alike.  A senator from New York was in the story and she published a list of SAR numbers for cell phones (she said the information isn’t readily available).


Do you know where I can find the list the senator talked about? - Anonymous


Anon:  I didn’t see the story, but I have two comments: (1) There is no evidence that cell phones cause brain cancer; and (2) The senator has her head in the sand because it’s easy to find SAR numbers for cell phones (I’m surprised the person who did the story on ABC didn’t follow-up on this, but that’s typical).


For a list of cell phone SAR numbers, click here.

Cell Phone "Do Not Call" List

Doc: I have received this email from several friends.  Is this true?


REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public today!  REMINDER — All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies tomorrow and you will start to receive sale calls.  YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS.


To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.  It is the National DO NOT CALL list.  It will only take a minute of your time.  It blocks your number for five (5) years.  You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.




- Anonymous

Anon: There are several errors in this silly email.  For all the information you need to know, click here.  If you want to pass something on to your friends, pass the link to the Federal Trade Commission.

Cell Phone Question

Hi, Doctor. You've answered questions before about cell phones and I'm hoping you can answer this one...  Pretend for a minute that you're Verizon Wireless.  OK, so you build towers every 3-5 miles (because, as I understand it, that's about the distance each cell site transmits).  If you're driving, how does a cell phone "know" to switch to the next tower, and do it without dropping the call?  And, how do you (Verizon Wireless) know how and where to build towers?  Are cell towers like FM towers in that they're line of sight and need to be on a higher elevation?  Thanks, doc.  Love your column! - Anonymous


Anon:  I’m glad you like the column.  Thanks.  If you have been reading this column for a while, you know that I don’t like to reinvent the information wheel.  There are several good explanations of how cell phones work on the Internet.  Let me know if you have other questions after you review these sources:

Cell Phones One, Cell Phones Two, Cell Phones Three, and Cell Phones Four.

Cell Phone Question (Voice)

Doc: Will it ever be possible to operate a cell phone by voice?  You know, something like, "Call Jim Smith," and the phone dials the number. - Andy


Andy: Yes, it's possible already.  I'm not sure about all of the phones available, but I can already do that.  The key is the cell phone's software.  I have Windows Mobile 6.1 on my phone and can do almost anything via voice commands.  For example, some of the things I can do by pressing the voice command button include, but are not limited to:

  1. Make a call by saying (as you suggested), "Call Jim Smith."  The phone then asks, "Call Jim Smith at home, at work, or mobile?"  So, for example, I say, "Mobile," and the phone makes the call.  I can also redial by saying, "Redial Jim Smith."  The phone asks: "Redial Jim Smith at mobile?"  If I say, "yes," the phone redials the number.

  2. Ask for the time of day.  Phone says: "The time is 9:21 a.m."

  3. Ask for the phone's signal strength.  Phone says: "The signal strength is 90 percent."

  4. Ask for today's date.  Phone says: "The date is Monday, March 9, 2009."

  5. Ask for the phone's battery level.  Phone says: "The battery level is 95 percent."

  6. Ask to play a game.

  7. Ask to see my address book or a specific person's information by saying, "Show Jim Smith" and the information pops up on the screen.

  8. Ask to play a specific song.  I have about 500 songs on my phone and I just say, "Play Bob Seger."  The phone then asks which Bob Seger song to play.  I say the name of the song I want to hear, and it plays.  While the song is playing, I can also ask the phone to tell me the title of the song and the artist's name.  Phone says: "Bob Seger. Turn on Your Love Light."

  9. Go to any program on the phone by saying, "Start," and then the name of the program.  Such as "Start Word, " "Start Excel," "Start Navigator," "Start Internet Explorer," "Start Messages" (to receive or send text messages), "Start email" (to receive or send email), "Start camera," or "Start video recorder."

  10. Ask to hear any information on my calendar.  For example, when I say, "What's my next appointment," the voice will tell me everything on my calendar for the next week, or I can ask for appointments only for today or tomorrow.

  11. Many other things that make the phone almost 100% hands free.

Cell Phone Remote 1

Hi Roger, I have seen these nifty little yellow boxes that hook up to a cell phone and allow you to be wireless at a remote.  Can you point me to the company that makes these?  Thanks in advance! - Anonymous


Anon:  I never heard of this piece of equipment and it took a while to find the correct Google search combination.  Click here and you’ll find several good sources: Remote Cell Phone Stuff.

Cell Phone Remote 2

I believe the device your reader was talking about...where you’re allowed to go wireless at a remote is called a “Flip Jack.” They can be found at most Radio Shacks.  Thanks Doc. - Josh


Josh:  Thanks for the information.  I couldn’t find a “flipjack” at Radio Shack, but I found a few others.  Click here for a Google search that lists the product: FlipJack.

Cell Phone Remote 3

To answer the earlier question, Conex has a wide array of flip jacks that seem to work well. - Anonymous


Anon:  Thanks for the help.  I included the link to Conex in your question.

Cell Phone (Short Code) Question

Doc:  I live in the Pittsburgh area and watch KDKA-TV (Channel 2) for local news.  The station has a "news alert" service that viewers can receive on their cell phones if they text the call letters KDKA to 66247—if a big news story happens, the information will be sent via text message to the people who subscribe to the free service.  I hope I explained that well enough so you understand what I mean.


My question isn't about the service.  It's about the 66247 number.  I wondered about that and did a search on the Internet for it and found many references to the number (most are TV stations).  Do you know what the text number 66247 is all about? - James


James: While your question sounds simple, you have opened a huge "Pandora's Box," so bear with me for a moment.


The text number 66247 is known as a cell phone Short Code (or Common Short Code), which, at present, can be five or six digits.  A Short Code replaces the usual 10-digit phone number to make it easier for callers to contact a company, service, or other source.  For example, CBS owns 66247 Short Code, and that's why you found many references to TV stations in your search.  If you look at the search you conducted, you'll see that all the references are to CBS TV stations.  (If I want to receive weather alerts from the CBS TV station here in Denver, Channel 4, I send "4Weather" to 66247.)


Short Codes are very popular in Europe, and they will become more popular in the United States in the next several years.  As I mentioned, Short Codes make it easier to contact a company, receive messages, or participate in polls or contests.  For example, for the TV program, American Idol, AT&T uses a special 4-digit Short Code for its voting—each contestant has a unique 4-digit Short Code and viewers are invited to send the word Vote to their favorite contestant's Short Code.


That's just a basic introduction.  Let's back up for a moment.  Here is a quick summary of 5-digit Short Codes I found on one Internet site (edited by me):


Short Codes are universal like domain names except they are limited to Continents. All the carriers in North America have one authoritative set of Short Codes.  This means that when a user sends a message to TACOS (82267) in California on AT&T, and a person in New York on Cingular Wireless sends a message to TACOS, they would both get the same application.  So, for example, if Taco Bell owned TACOS they could distribute signs and procedures across North America telling users how to pay for food using TACOS SMS messaging.


Obtaining a Common Short Code (CSC) is simple—go to and register a Common Short Code.  The only down side is the cost, about $500/month for a randomly assigned code or $1000/month for a custom picked one.


The good short codes are already gone, LOTTO (56886), MUSIC (68742), GAMES (42637), MONEY (66639), VEGAS (83427), DAILY (32459), STOCK (78625), but that doesn't mean that some great names are not still available. At the time of this article TACOS (82267) was available for example.


As the article indicates, Short Codes are huge revenue generators for cell phone operators, and that's why they will become more prevalent in the near future.  For an excellent summary of Short Codes from the website mentioned above—click here.


There is a limited number of five and six digit Short Codes available: Usable five-digit codes are 20000 to 99999; 6-digit codes are 222222 to 899999.  I'm sure the cost of Short Codes will escalate when all the numbers are used.


Finally, for a directory of current Short Code numbers, click here.

Cell Phone (Short Code) Comment

Doc:  Thanks for your answer about cell phone Short Codes.  I learned a lot and now I don't have to wonder what it's all about. - James


James:  You're welcome for the information.  Although I don't like to predict human behavior because humans are so fickle, I think Short Codes are going to be one of the biggest marketing tools in the history of communication.  There are countless ways that the Short Code system can be used to contact customers, radio listeners, or anyone.


However, I'm not the only person who seems to think this way.  Read some of the articles in this search.


My guess is that cell phones will replace many types of traditional advertising and promotion.  For example, a retail store can contact its customers (who have signed up for special notices) and invite them to a special sale today or any other day.  A radio station could use its Short Code database to tell listeners about a special contest, song, or other programming.


In my opinion, the uses for Short Code marketing are almost limitless and it’s a great way to eliminate wasted advertising money—Short Code marketing goes directly to the target customers/listeners who asked for the service.

Cell Phone Spam

Doc:  Do you know anything about the laws against sending cell phone spam? - Anonymous


Anon: I'll admit that I didn't know much about the area until I read this document from the FCC.  You'll learn a lot too.


One thing you'll see in the discussion is to include your cell phone number on the "Do Not Call" list.  I'm not sure if it will do a lot of good, but you should register your number—click here.

Cell Phone Tapping

Doc:  How much do you know about cell phone tapping that you could share with me?  Thanks.  - Anonymous


Anon: I only know what I have seen on TV and on the Internet.  I do know that cell phone tapping has been around since about 2002 or 2003.  An excellent video by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis explains the procedure—click here.  For the printed version of the story, click here.


Cell phone tapping is a scary thing and here are two good articles that explain the procedure in more detail:


Tapping One


Tapping Two


Cents Key?

I noticed the other day that there is no cents key on my keyboard.  I remember it was on old typewriters, but it's not on computer keyboards.  What happened to the cents key? - Anonymous


Anon:  The “cents key?”  That’s a good question and it seems to stump many people when they need to type that character.  The “¢” key on old typewriters was usually above the number 6, but it was eliminated on computer keyboards because there wasn't enough room for it.  However, you can still type it, and there are two ways to do it: (1) Hold down the “Alt” key and type in 0162 on the number pad on the right side of your keyboard (it won’t work if you use the numbers on the keyboard); or (2) Hold down the Ctrl key, hit right slash "/" key, and type the letter "c"....(You don't have to hold down the Ctrl and / keys together and simultaneously hit the "c" key.) 


By the way, for those who don’t know, you can type all sorts of characters and symbols using your “Alt” key and the number pad.  You can see them by going to your “Character Map” on your computer, or you can see the characters on several websites in this search:  Alt Codes.

Changes on Radio Station

Do you have any idea how long it takes listeners to learn or find out about a change on a radio station? - Anonymous


Anon:  Your question is rather broad.  It would be easier if you would have provided an example of a change, but I’ll see what I can do.


As a general rule, you can expect any type of significant change (such as a new jock, a new slogan/moniker, and major change in music) to take a minimum of three months to be understood by most of your P1s (fans).  However, it is common to see years pass until “all” listeners are aware of a change.  For example, I remember conducting a study for a radio station that changed its call letters 8 years before the study and about 25% of the target audience was unaware of the call letter change—and the radio station used them on the air.


Many radio people believe that listeners are up-to-date on everything with their radio station.  They aren’t and that’s why it’s necessary to repeatedly tell them what’s going on.

Changing a Scale

I have a bunch of ratings from a questionnaire that are in a 1-7 scale. Can I change these to a 0-100 scale? If so, how do I do that? - Anonymous


Anon: Yes you can and the procedure is easy.  If you divide 100 by 7, that gives you the number to multiply your 1-7 scores to get to a 0-100 scale. You multiplier is 14.28571. So your new transformed (rounded) scores are:










If your original data were 1-5 scales, you would multiple times 20 (100 / 5 = 20); a 1-10 scale, you would multiply times 10 (100 / 10 = 10). You can figure of what to do if your original data were a 1-4 scale.


Chapman Stick

It may be because I live in a remote part of the world, but I just recently learned about a musical instrument that has been around for a while that I think is probably the most unique instrument I have ever seen and heard. The instrument is the Chapman Stick Touchboard, or simply the Chapman Stick. Here is the story . . .

During a recent trip to Hawaii (the Big Island), my wife, Darnell, and I had the opportunity to hear a great local band that played a variety of Rock music. One of the band members, Joe Conti, played a strange looking instrument I had never seen before. It has strings like a guitar, but the strings aren't strummed or plucked – they are tapped. What? Yes, tapped and you'll learn more in just a moment.

After the concert, I went up to the stage and talked to Joe Conti and learned a lot more about the Chapman Stick. However, instead of me trying to explain what Joe told me, it will be easier for you to go to Joe's website. Make sure you go to all the pages on the site.

OK, assuming that you visited Joe's website, it's time to hear a few other people play the instrument. There are many videos about the Chapman Stick on YouTube, and I selected a few as introductions. Check these out (if the links no longer work, search for "Chapman Stick"):

Chapman Stick Demo

Chapman Stick One

Chapman Stick Two

As I said, I may be the only person in the world who hasn't heard of a Chapman Stick, but I think it's a very unique instrument. The other bands members in Hawaii told me that Joe Conti is one of the top Chapman Stick players in the world. After hearing him play for a few hours, I can understand why he has earned that title (he's also an excellent singer). I want to thank Joe Conti for the time he spent with me explaining the instrument.

By the way, here is a good written summary of the Chapman Stick.


(Chase) Song Title

A long time ago, you mentioned a good example of the use of horns in a Rock song for someone who wrote to you and said he likes trumpets.  I have been trying to remember what the song you mentioned, but I can't.  Do you remember the song you suggested? - Anonymous


Anon: My guess is that I suggested Get it On, the 1971 song by Chase.  You can listen to it by clicking here.  I also found a cover of the song by Rex Merriweather, click here.

Chemtrails, Not Contrails

Do you subscribe to the theory on chemtrails?  There seems to be some validity that vapor trails from airplanes contain more than just water and are really a government/military cover-up.  Why do these so call "vapor trails" last for hours on end and then get bigger and wider?  Shouldn't they dissipate?  A quick Google search on chemtrails will show you hundreds of sites with some startling facts.  What ever happened to blue skies?


I realize travel by air has certainly garnered more traffic, but our skies look like crap!  Conspiracies and nut jobs aside, what do you think?  Is the human race being sprayed in some DNA inoculation deal?  You'll never look at the sky the same way again. - Anonymous

Anon:  I did check the Internet for articles on chemtrails and found many things.  What do I think of all this stuff?  I think it's pure Vulpes Fulva leavings.


Conspiracy theories are interesting because people come up with such wild and ridiculous explanations for things—like chemtrails.


Using only a modicum of logic and rational thinking would demonstrate that the chemtrails "theory" is ridiculous.  Poisoning people (or altering DNA) from 30,000+ feet?  Yea, sure.  And aliens crash landed in Roswell, and the United States never landed on the moon.  And monkeys will fly out of your . . . oh, never mind.  You mention that a search of the Internet will show me "hundreds of sites with some startling facts."  I beg to differ.  The websites show me hundreds of silly ideas purported to be facts, yet not one of the "facts" is supported with any concrete, scientific information.


For a good article about the reality of chemtrails, click here, and here is a good summary of chemtrails on Wikipedia.

Chicken Stuff

If as chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, now long will it take for two chickens to lay 32 eggs?  You're just so dang smart.  Thanks! - Anonymous

Anon: I'm "dang smart?"  I will alert my wife.  On to your question . . .


The answer is 24 days.  And now here is one for you that I found on the Internet:  If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how many days will it take a grasshopper with a rubber foot to kick a hole in a tin can?

Chiropractor - Broken Neck

Hey Doc:  We have all seen movies where the good guy grabs a bad guy and snaps his neck by giving it a quick twist bringing him to a very quick yet painless death.  Every time I go to my chiropractor he does what seems to be the same motion to me, yet I'm still here typing this question to you.  Is that just a fantasy that action movies have created, or is it possible to do that to a human neck that easily? - Anonymous


Anon: Many people have written to me to say that one of the first things they do every day is read this column.  When I read your question, the first thing that came to mind is, "Oh, this should be pleasant for the people who read the column during their breakfast."  So, I apologize to those people who are now eating breakfast.


I first need to say that I only have a Ph.D., not an M.D., which means that you shouldn't interpret my comments as medical opinions.  However, I did ask my wife (a medical doctor), and she gave me a few hints about what to search for on the Internet.  (By the way, her description of dying by a broken neck was identical to what I found on medical sites on the Internet, so I guess I'll have to give her a tip for her information.)  On to your question . . .


The movie depiction of death by broken (or snapped) neck is not fantasy—it's accurate.  (It's essentially what happens when a person is hanged.)  However, this method of killing (sorry breakfast eaters) depends mostly on the strength of the person doing the snapping—a weak person would have a difficult time accomplishing the task.  Here are a few articles you may want to read: death by broken neck one, death by broken neck two, and you may be interested in reading more about spinal cord injuries.


Now, you ask about the difference between death by snapped neck and a chiropractor's "neck cracking."  (By the way, the "cracking" or "popping" sounds you hear when the chiropractor twists your neck are not your bones rubbing against each other, but bubbles of carbon dioxide gas popping in the fluids between your joints &#8212 the same noise you hear if you "crack" your knuckles or other body parts.)


A chiropractor's "neck cracking," which they refer to as manipulation is substantially less violent than the action required to kill someone.  However, chiropractic neck cracking/manipulation is not a 100% safe procedure, and there are many articles on the Internet that discuss the potential dangers involved in the procedure that you may want to read before you make your next visit to the chiropractor (who is not a medical doctor, by the way):  Neck Cracking Problems One, Neck Cracking Problems Two, and Neck Cracking Problems Three.

CHR Demos and Promotions

I work at a Christian Hit radio station with a core demographic of 18-34 females. We are gearing up to be involved with an event called "See You At The Pole," where teens gather around the flagpole and pray for their schools. This is a big event for Christian kids, and a huge national event. We want to be behind it by being a mouthpiece for it, and provide information and live broadcasts for the event. The concern that we have had here is that we would be reaching beyond the core demographic, and moving away from our target listener (a 28 year-old female, "Sherri"). How do CHRs handle reaching out to those who skew lower in the demographic, but who are faithful listeners? And how can we speak to all about the event so no one is left out? - Mike


Mike: I believe you answered your own question. You say that teenagers are also listeners to your radio station and that the event is a "big" event locally and nationally. I would think that such a major event would transcend age. I would also think that your target listener would appreciate the fact that your radio station is involved in the event.


Yes, it is important to have a target for your radio station, but that doesn’t mean that 100% of every minute of programming must be only for this restricted group. Sure, your target is 18-34, but my guess is that many of your listeners have teenagers who will be participating in the event. Therefore, you will be providing them with information they want to hear.


Don’t be so restricted in your efforts to program to your target. I guarantee that your target isn’t as restricted as you may think they are.

CHR and Females 18-34

Do you know how today’s Top 40 format came to the generally accepted target of women 18-34?  More importantly to me, why does this target seem to work so well for the format?  Most successful CHR stations not only win the slice of F18-34 they target, but also see lots of success by spilling over into other demos, thus making them “mass appeal.”


What is it about females 18-34, or even 12-24, that makes them the target to help many stations get cume from all ages and genders? - Anonymous


Anon:  This sounds surprisingly like the old question, “Which came first, the yak or the pancake?”  No, wait a minute…change that to “Chicken or the egg.”  OK…


To answer your question, let’s go back a few decades (this sounds like an intro to a radio drama) and take a look at what was on the radio then…


When Top 40 radio started in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was no such thing as target audiences, at least not in the way targets are discussed today.  Before Top 40, music radio stations played Big Band music, marching band tunes, ethnic stuff, and a few tunes from operas and operettas.  I know that’s a simplification, but I’m old enough to remember the start of Top 40, and I remember what my parents played on the radio…Big Band and marching band stuff, some Czech music, and Puccini and other dead artists (all foot stomping tunes, by the way…yea sure, and monkeys will fly out of my…well, never mind).


OK, “Bill Haley and the Comets” and a few other groups start to make songs that didn’t have the “oom-pah” sounds of tubas, 50-person choruses, chimes, and squeaking violins.  Did the old folks like this stuff?  Heck no, because there was no “oom-pah” tubas, and good music has to have tubas.  No tubas?  The music must be for kids.  (What’s a kid?  Anyone who isn’t a parent yet…or anyone who doesn’t like tubas and/or violins.)


Now, all of a sudden, there is music the older folks don’t like because they don’t understand the words, the music is too “hard,” and the musicians look like delinquents, hippies, beatniks.  Whatever the descriptor used, the musicians DID NOT look like Hoagie Carmichael, Tommy Dorsey, or Lawrence Welk, and that don’t be right.  Music has tubas and musicians say, “Uh one, and uh two, and uh three.”


So what can this new music be called?  What can it be named to differentiate it from “Big Band,” or “Marching Band” music?  Hey!  What about “Rock and Roll?”  That sounds good because parents (and other older folks) don’t rock and they don’t roll.  In fact, they don’t know what “Rock and Roll” means because “big,” “marching,” and “tubas” are not in the description.


Rock and Roll music?  It must be bad and, therefore, it must be for kids.  Following this logic, the radio stations that play this new “non-tuba” music MUST BE for kids.  The target of these new radio stations—by virtue of playing music older folks hate—is young people (the “target audience” concept emerged by default).  But, the target wasn’t initially narrowed to males and females like things are today.  Rock and Roll was for all young people—males and females.


Now we skip ahead just a bit.  Just like there are different types of Big Band music, Rock and Roll soon began to branch off.  There was slow and fast R & R, hard and soft R & R, and other variations.  But what radio broadcasters soon discovered is that all males and all females don’t like the same type of Rock and Roll.  It appeared that while the males liked the harder and faster types of music, the females liked the softer music, but especially music they could dance to.  (“I give the song a 95 Mr. Clark because it’s something I can really dance to.”)


Dance music?  Why is it that (nearly) all females like to dance?  A UFO encounter?  Something in the water?  A pill given at birth?  No, I don’t think so.  I think it’s something much less mysterious and cosmic.  I think women like to dance, and therefore like dance music, because they all have a “dance gene”— passed on to them by their mothers and their mothers before them.  (It’s a gene that all males lack, as is fist demonstrated at the 8th grade dance class when all the guys stand against the wall hoping that they won’t be picked by some girl to go out on the dance floor.)  (Don’t ask me to prove any of this—I just know it’s true.)


Well, so what?  Why is this important?  Well, it’s important because the radio programmers picked up on this difference.  They also noticed the fact that most women tend to listen to the radio more than most men.  With this information, you can see why the Top 40 format was developed…


Follow this now…When “non-tuba” music first appeared on the radio, there were all types of songs on one radio station—hard, soft, slow, fast, dance, and non-dance.  The music was a conglomeration of stuff designed for young people.


But, some broadcasters were visionaries.  They probably thought something like, “What if we take the information we know (women gots ta dance and they listen to radio a lot), and cut out some of the “non-dance” music from our radio station?  Instead of playing a few hundred different types of songs, let’s just play a small group of songs…all dance songs.  Let’s just play 40 or 50 songs over and over and over again until the women’s legs fall off!  And then we’ll drop all those songs after a few days and put on a different set of 40 or 50 songs!”


Ergo…the birth of Top 40.  Now, did the young people ask for Top 40 music or did the musicians “sense” that the young people wanted something other than tubas?  I’m not sure, and I don’t think it matters.  What matters is that the musicians made the music and the young people loved it…and the radio stations played it.


Did the radio stations create the target, or did the young people create “targeted radio stations?”  In this case, I think it’s a little of both.  The young people liked the music and the radio broadcasters simply gave the young people what they asked for.  (Wait a minute!  The same thing is true for today, but that’s another story).


You ask why Top 40 can attract listeners beyond its main target.  I think there are two answers to your question:


1.  In the United States, and probably many other counties around the world, young is cool, hip, far out, phat, groovy, hip, rad, tight, the dope, the shiznet, hype, wicked crazy, and the bomb (or whatever).  Young people (primarily) like Top 40 music.  By virtue of the young people’s endorsement of the music, Top 40 music is, therefore, cool, hip, far out, phat, groovy, hip, rad, tight, the dope, the shiznet, hype, wicked crazy, and the bomb (or whatever).


So what?  Well, just because a person gets older does not mean he/she turns to stone.  Many older people (over 34, the age you use in your target) continue an interest in being cool, hip, far out, phat, groovy, hip, rad, tight, the dope, the shiznet, hype, wicked crazy, and the bomb (or whatever) and they listen to Top 40.  They want to keep up with what is new, and Top 40 radio stations always play new music.


2.  Remember what I said about the female “dance gene.”  The dance gene does not disappear from women when they reach 35 years old.  In fact, the gene continues functioning until they die.  Here’s an example…I can remember when my grandmother was in her late 70s and needed a cane to walk.  But when it came to attending a wedding reception where a “dance” band played, the cane fell to the floor and no one could get her off the dance floor.  The old babe kept going until the band packed up and left.


So what again?  Well, just because a woman is 35+ does not mean she does not like to keep up with the current music…especially dance music because they have the gene.  Oh sure, the older women don’t appreciate (as much) the jocks on the Top 40 radio stations because of the goofy discussions and crude language, but they listen for the music.  And that’s your second reason why Top 40 radio stations attract listeners beyond their primary target.


By the way…most guys like to listen to Top 40 (at least occasionally), but not many people care about that.


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