Song Requests

We are getting a lot of requests at our radio station (CHR) for several songs that haven't tested well in our auditorium music test.  Could it be that we missed something and should play these songs? - Anonymous


Anon:  I significantly edited your question, but I don't think I changed the meaning.  Please let me know if I did.  There are three significant reasons why you shouldn't play the songs:

Is that enough?

Song Requests – 2

Hi Doc, love the show (or board)!  Question:  Why do radio stations have request lines?


Based on your answer to the "Song Requests" post above, doesn't that really mean that listeners may as well not even take the time to use a station's request line because if they are requesting a song in the station's rotation, then the station will get around to playing the song anyway at some point, but if they are requesting something that tests poorly, then the request is meaningless. - Anonymous


Anon:  I'm glad you enjoy the show/board.  Thanks.


I'm not sure if I will burst a radio programming bubble here or not.  While there are a few rare exceptions such as request shows, most radio stations don't play requests.  The requests are usually for songs that are on the playlist and will come up anyway, so the listener will eventually hear them.  In addition, most jocks don't have the freedom to play songs that are out of sync with the playlist, which is developed days or weeks in advance of the time the songs are played.


"Listener requests" are usually used to allow the listeners (mostly younger people) to think they are involved in the show.  As I said, some radio stations take requests, but the number is very small from my experience.

Song Rotation

Fantastic column, Doc!  It's always informative with quite useful real world useful stuff in it.  It's much appreciated.


I know you're a big proponent of letting the listeners tell you which songs to play, but how would one figure out how they should rotate?  How does one decide the balance of a station, such as Mainstream AC with so many genres and decades? - Anonymous


Anon:  I'm happy to hear that the column is fantastic.  I will alert my wife.  She will be happy to know that the column contains informative, real-world stuff.  On to your question . . .


In your question, you say, " . . . but how would one figure out . . ." and "How does one decide the balance . . . "  I'm assuming that you are the one, and are, therefore, the PD for a Mainstream AC radio station.  I'm also assuming, from the nature of your question, that you are new to the position.  No problem there.  Asking questions is how we learn.  So here are a few things to consider:


First . . . Developing a radio station's playlist is a difficult task that requires a combination of research and talent (experience, knowledge of your target, knowledge of the music, and more).  The best approach I have seen to determine rotations is to breakout your music test data to help you with your decisions.  You should have banner points (columns) related to the genres and eras of music you play on your radio station.  This simple data display will show you how your listeners rate each genre and era, and, therefore, will provide you with a guide in reference to which genre and era should received the highest rotation, the second highest rotation, and so on.  (You should also look closely at the "familiar" scores and the "tired of" scores.)


Never interpret music test data as a "bible," but rather use it as a guideline.  The computer that crunches your numbers doesn't know anything about your listeners.  However, the computer, if used correctly, can be an enormous help to you.  The simple step of creating genre and era banner points will be an amazing help for you.


Second . . . If you don't conduct music research, and I would have a difficult time understanding why you wouldn't, then you're going to have to develop the rotations on your own.  Which genres and eras do your listeners like?  If you don't have research, you'll have to guess, and if you guess, you'll find out if you're correct when the few Arbitron books are published.


Third . . . If you don't have research and don't feel comfortable guessing, then I suggest you talk to a few other Mainstream AC PDs to see what they do.  This doesn't mean you should follow their procedures to the letter, but you may get some good ideas that relate to your radio station and your market.

Song Set Themes

Hey Doc, love your column.  Interesting, informative, and entertaining all in one.  To my question, is there a site generator where I can find rock songs that fit a certain theme for a music set?  For example, let's say I wanted to have a theme with “Talk” or “Wild.”  Is there a site that you can direct me to?  Thanks for your help, Doc. - Anonymous


Anon:  Thanks for the comment about the column.  I’m glad you enjoy it.


Although there may be several websites to accomplish the same task, the one I think is good is All Music Guide.


When you get there, you’ll see a search box at the top of the screen.  Input your theme word or words, and make sure you check the “songs” option in the box.


The search operates like any other search.  For example, if you enter talk as your search item, you’ll find hundreds of songs with that word in the title.  However, if you search for (use quotes) "talk to me" it will narrow your search considerably.


The only thing the search does not do is sort by format, so you’ll have to look through many songs to get what you need.  It’s a great site.

Song Set Themes - 2

In response to the question about song set themes, check this out out:  “The Green Book of Songs by Subject: The Thematic Guide to Popular Music” by Jeff Green.  You can find it by going to the website or to - Anonymous


Anon:  Hey, thanks for the information and the links.  If you would like to order the book, click here for the Website, or here for Amazon.

Song Title Copyright

Are song titles part of a song’s copyright?  If I wanted to put song titles on my station van, do I need to seek permission from groups besides the labels?  - Anonymous


Anon:  I’m not a copyright attorney, so I searched the Internet for your answer.  One good article includes this statement:


Song titles are not copyrightable.  But be aware that using the exact title of a song that has established itself as part of the culture, can open the doors for a lawsuit based on property rights in the title, which belong to the copyright owner of the famous song.


Although you should probably ask your attorney, there is no indication that putting a song title on your ratio station’s van will violate either the mechanical rights or the performance rights of a song.  You aren’t using the song in any way.

Sound Codes

Hey, Doc.  Love your column.  I’m the PD of a CHR station.  We’re going through Selector, updating our sound codes.  One problem we’re encountering now is how to classify some songs.  We have Urban, Dance, Pop, and Rock as our sound codes.  We may include an R&B and a Rap category and get rid of the Urban category.  However, we have some songs that don’t fit any of these categories, so for lack of a better code we’re calling them “Adult.”


Basically, we don’t want them (Adult) to schedule next to Pop songs, but some of them shouldn’t be next to Rock songs either.  For instance, “No Such Thing” by John Mayer is classified as “Adult” now, but I’d have no problem hearing that song into a Rock song.  But, I wouldn’t want to hear it going into Vanessa Carlton, whom we’re calling “Pop.”


We could have some songs that have multiple sound codes, I guess.  But, I thought I’d ask you first.  I realize if we schedule Selector by hand, we could catch this ourselves.  But, sometimes with 800 meetings, you have to do Selector faster than you’d like and I’d like to find a solution.


Do you consult any stations that are running into an issue such as this one?  Or, anyone reading this column...your feedback would be appreciated.  I’m going to call my PD & MD friends and ask for some pointers, but I wanted to come to you, too. Thanks for your help & I love your column. - Erin


Erin:  Thanks for the comment about the column.  I’m glad you find it useful.  On to your question…


I’m not a programming expert, so I asked Russ Schell to help out.  He said,


“First, Selector allows many codes (perhaps as many as 26 or 52) so use them to your best advantage.  Think not only of the obvious of the music but the context as well.  For example, you could also categorize the song as positive, negative, uplifting, inspirational, etc.


Second, never assume that Selector can do what you can do by paying attention.  Think of it like this—if you spend an hour editing your log after Selector schedules it, is it worth it?  Is it worth two and a half minutes per hour to make the day sound perfect?”


As Russ says, you may want to use more categories to give you more flexibility.  In addition, my experience in this area shows that most listeners do not take as seriously (as you do) which songs are played before and after other songs.  While it is important to pay some attention to the order in which songs are played, don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out all the positives and negatives about the order of every single song.  If you do that, you’re going to need some type of sedative.


Finally, Selector is only a computer program and you can’t expect it to match your skills.  If you have problems with it, then don’t use it and schedule the music yourself.”

Spacecraft Speed

This has puzzled me for quite some time.  Let's say a rocket is traveling through space at 100,000 MPH.  If we fire a propellant out the back of the rocket, it should increase in speed, let’s say to 101,000 mph.  Since there is no resistance in space, it should maintain the new speed even after we turn off the propellant, correct?


Then if we use the propellant again, the speed increases to, say, 102,000 mph and that speed is maintained after we shut down the propellant because there is no resistance to slow it down.  If this is correct, then why can't we accelerate a rocket infinitely?  I would think that with NO resistance, and enough propellant, the rocket could even reach the speed of light- maybe faster.  Thanks Doc. – Timmy


Timmy:  I’m sorry to hear that this problem has puzzled you for so long.  Let’s see if I can help you solve this…


Your assumption about the increasing speed is correct.  The problem is that current technology (engines) and propellants limit the maximum spacecraft speed to about 11,700 mph.  Not very fast.  NASA has a great article that discusses the problems with traveling in space.  Check it out.  In addition, there are several good theories about the way to travel faster in space.  One good article is on


Finally, you mention the idea about traveling faster than the speed of light.  While some physicists have suggested this idea, none has yet been able to prove it.  I set up a search for you for more information.

Spacecraft Speed - Again

Thanks for the research Doc:  You found stuff that I couldn’t find, and I consider myself to be pretty Internet savvy!  To help me better understand the answers to my question, which were fantastic by the way, in space, does it take more energy to move something with a large mass than it does an object with small mass?  If it does, everything will settle into my brain nicely.  I know it is the case in a gravity environment, but thought that was different in space, which is why my question came up in the first case, I suppose.  Thank you again! - Timmy


Timmy:   As I mentioned before, I’m not a physicist, but here is my best shot at your question.  While most people think that space is gravity free, it isn’t.  According to Einstein and others, there is always some gravity.  That’s one point.  The second point is that although a spacecraft (or a person) may have reduced weight in space, it does not have reduced mass.  What this means is that the amount of energy required to move mass increases as the amount of mass increases—it takes more fuel to move a larger object in space than it does to move a smaller object.


Here is a great article  for you that will help answer many of your questions.

Speed - How Fast are We Moving?

How fast are we moving on earth? - Matt

Matt: This took me a while to find. We’re actually moving at several speeds (all estimates, not exact):

Speed of the earth at the equator: 1,035 miles per hour

Speed of the earth around the sun: 66,880 miles per hour

Speed of our solar system in Milky Way galaxy: 492,100 miles per hour

Speed of Milky Way around center of our Local Group (of galaxies): 671,000 miles per hour

Speed of Local Group in reference to universe background: 1,342,106 miles per hour

Even when you’re sitting, you’re really moving. By the way, you can’t add all of these together because all of the travel is not in the same direction.

Speed of Light

If you're driving in a car at the speed of light, and you turn your headlights on, would anything happen? - Anonymous

Anon: From all that I have read about Einstein’s theory of special relativity, you would experience no different effects. In other words, according to Einstein, if you turned on your headlights while traveling at the speed of light, you would still see things in front of you as normal. Your headlights would strike objects in front of you and you would be able to see them. Although there is a lot of debate about this, I side with Einstein.

Speed of Light Again

Hi Doc!  I know you've answered some wacky questions in the past, but I hope you can help with one that’s been keeping me up at night.  However, it may cause you to threaten to “come out here.”


If a car is traveling at 55 mph on the freeway at night with the headlights on, isn't the light generated from the headlights actually traveling 55 mph FASTER than the speed of light?  If so, doesn't that conflict with the commonly held perception that the light barrier cannot be broken?  Should I just have a glass of warm milk and go to sleep? - Anonymous


Anon:  There is nothing wrong with your question.  First, I need to say that I’m not a physicist, so my comments are from a “layman.”  You can search the Internet for more information if you are interested.  On to your question…


As you probably know, all the stuff about the speed of light comes from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Now, as with any major theory, there are people who question the correctness of the theory.  (That’s OK because that’s one of the tenets of scientific research.)


While some people say that light is slowing down, others say that things can go faster than the speed of light


As I said, the questions about the speed of light (and everything related to it) are fine.  That’s what scientific research is for—to check things out and find the truth.  However, until many studies are conducted that support or refute the various claims, most experts continue to support Einstein’s theory that the speed of light is a constant.


With that in mind, then, the answer to your question is that the light from your headlights is not traveling at the speed of light plus 65 mph.  According to Einstein, light travels at a constant regardless of the source.


If someone proves otherwise, I will be happy to report the results in this column.  However, I’ll stick with Einstein for the moment.


Aside:  The arguments about the speed of light remind me of the 1989 announcement that Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, chemists at the University of Utah, produced a fusion reaction at room temperature (cold fusion).  The problem was that no one has been able to duplicate the experiment.  Oops.


Yes, I know that Elisabeth Shue’s character in The Saint was able to accomplish cold fusion, but that is only a movie.

Speeding Ticket (Excuses)

Dr. Wimmer:  I have two questions about speeding and tickets:


1.  Let’s say that there are 10 cars in a group and all are speeding.  I know the police can’t stop the whole group, so how do they decide which one to stop for a speeding ticket?


2.  If I am stopped for speeding, is there some easy way to get out of the ticket? - Anonymous


Anon:  First, I need to say that you shouldn’t speed and you wouldn’t have to worry about making excuses.  However, I know that most people (including me) get a bit carried away occasionally, so I’m not chastising you.


I didn’t want to guess with your questions, so I sent them to one of my good friends (David) who has been a cop in Illinois for about 25 years.  Here is what he said:


Question 1:  As you probably know, we have access to high tech speed detectors, but we’re limited to focusing on just one vehicle.  In the case of a group of cars as you mention, most cops usually focus on the front-runner of the group.


Question 2:  This is hard to answer because cops, contrary to many opinions, are humans too.  The only way to try to get out of a ticket is to come up with some credible sounding line of BS that the particular officer will accept.  However, no excuse works in every case because cops are different and they all don’t accept the same excuse.  It’s a crap shoot at best.  You can try your excuse, but don’t be crushed if it backfires.


I’d like to thank David for his answers.  I’m sure you picked up that most cops focus on the front-runner of the group, which means that you should be in the back of the group to decrease your odds of being stopped.


However, that doesn’t always work.  I know this from personal experience when I was in the back of a group of speeding cars and I was stopped.  Now, from what David said, my guess is that the cop used the front-runner’s speed as my speed and stopped me because it was easier to get me than to catch up to the leader.


Anyway…you asked for excuses.  In this case, my “excuse” worked.  After I pulled over and the cop came up to my car, he said, “Do you know how fast your were going?”  My shorts were a bit frosted because I was the only one pulled from the group and said, “Obviously not fast enough to keep up with the people in front of me—the people you didn’t stop.”  For whatever reason, he bought the excuse and said, “You have a good point.  Please drive safely.”  He left without giving me a ticket.


Finally, the topic of excuses for speeding seems to be popular because of the number of sources on the website that address the topic.  In fact, there are a few books available with excuses for speeding.  I set up an Internet search for you.  Not all the sources are relevant, but check this out:  Speeding Excuses


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