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The Great Space Monkey Hoax, 1953
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
The Great Wall of China Hoax, 1899
Brief History of Triple-Decker Buses
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
The Crown Prince Regent of Thulia, 1954
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
Dog wins art contest, 1974
Van Gogh's ear exhibited, 1935
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
Star 100.7 Becomes Jack 100.7
Every day when my wife drives home from work (here in San Diego) she tunes in to radio station Star 100.7 to listen to a show called 'The Daily Dirt' (which is basically entertainment gossip). Today she was surprised to discover that the station had abruptly switched to a 'classic rock' format that randomly plays songs from the 80's, 90's, and the present. Plus, it was no longer Star 100.7. It was now Jack 100.7. Even the DJs were different. She thought it might be some kind of belated April Fool's Day prank. But when she got home we did some research and learned it was no prank.

Apparently this is happening to radio stations across the country (and in Canada). Suddenly the management will fire all the staff, rename the station something like Jack or Bob or Doug FM (it's always a guy's name), and switch to a random-play format. Audiences aren't given any warning, so they often think it's a prank.

I think this is a scheme cooked up by marketers to maximize profits. The management tries to spin the random-play thing as them being daring enough to 'play whatever they want', but in reality they're just saving money by having a computer in shuffle-mode pick the songs. Then they fire all the staff (except for the morning show usually), and replace them with lower-paid substitutes who mumble phrases from a corporate script in between the songs.

I never listened to Star 100.7 that much, so the change won't affect me in any way. But it does seem strange that all these stations are being renamed Jack or Bob or Doug and transformed into glorified iPods on shuffle mode. I figure that it must be one company behind it all, but I don't know who it is.
Categories: Radio
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 07, 2005
Comments (87)
The same thing happened to Oldies 103 in Austin, Texas. It changed to Bob.
Posted by Daniel  in  Texas  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  01:33 AM
In Los Angeles Arrow 93.1 is also Jack 93.1 now.
Posted by Tom  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  02:01 AM
In mid-March I was visiting Albuquerque, NM and ran across another station that did this - I forget the name though. But I did think the playlist was quite a lot better than the average rock/classic rock/oldies/top 40s format.
Posted by Kevin  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  02:05 AM
clearchannel, imho.
Posted by Heidi  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  02:28 AM
Yeah, a Toronto station changed a couple of years ago to 'Jack'. I wonder if this is where it started.
Posted by Whatever  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  02:52 AM
Whatever said:

"Yeah, a Toronto station changed a couple of years ago to 'Jack'. I wonder if this is where it started."

Well, I read recently in an article about the radio industry (I forget where or I'd give you a link to it) that the "Jack" format started in Canada, so you may well be correct.

I worked in radio on and off for about twenty years and the "industry" falls in love with these stupid formats; a new one comes along every couple of years. Each new one is going to be THE answer to radio's problems. Yeah, uh huh.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  04:03 AM
Can they do that legally? Just change a stations name and playlist to classic rock overnight? You'd never be allowed to do that in the UK, where radio is regulated to within an inch of it's life. Thankfully.
Posted by Timmy O'Toole  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  06:31 AM
Stations have to submit applications to the FCC to continue to be on air every few years. If they are not approved, a new "sound" gets put on that frequency. It happens all the time. Sometimes they're approved, but for whatever reason, get switched to another frequency. I can't really see how it's a big deal.

I didn't realize people were so into morning shows. I flip thru the stations & stop on music or news, regardless of what it is, as long as it's not rap, hip hop, or pop.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  07:01 AM
Yep, we got a Jack station over here in Dallas, too.
Posted by Sarah  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  07:57 AM
I've gotten used to that sort of thing here in Cali.

This has happened to at least three radio stations I've listened to over the years in California. The most famous was KZAP.

KZAP started as an FM rock station in 1968. It defined the FM rock format for all that came after. Basically overnight on Jan. 20, 1992 it was changed to a Country Western format, with a few days warning to the staff and hours warning to the audience. One DJ was on vacation and didn't find out until he'd got back and heard the new format.

107.9 here (Classic Rock) changed a few years ago to "108 The End" or some crap, but they gave warning for about 3 days.

Our local mountain station KNGT was bought out by a conglomerate, but was assured they would be continuing to broadcast the same news and music, and keep the staff. They were lied to. The staff didn't find out until a few hours before they were fired. It then became a spanish language station, effectively cutting of any local news for our mountain tri-county area.

Even the mostly stable rock stations here in Cali, like 96.9, get bought out periodically. InfoCom bought them a few years ago, and made subtle but annoying changes. There was a new morning show every few months, for several years. Did they inform the audience before-hand? Hell no.
Posted by Splarka  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  08:04 AM
Maegan said:

"Stations have to submit applications to the FCC to continue to be on air every few years. If they are not approved, a new "sound" gets put on that frequency. It happens all the time. Sometimes they're approved, but for whatever reason, get switched to another frequency. I can't really see how it's a big deal."

Maegan, you're confusing station licenses with formats. Companies that own radio stations have to have licenses because the airwaves are legally owned by the public. Yes, they have to renew those licenses every few years (I believe it's seven years) but that has nothing to do with the format of a station.

The format is the "type" of station that it is. You have Talk stations, Rock stations, Sports stations, etc. There are sub-groups within those formats, like "Lite Rock," etc. A station's format has NOTHING to do with the licensing requirements. The government does NOT tell stations what they can program, other than with respect to "decency."

Stations switch formats for business reasons; if there are two or more Rock stations in a market, let's say, the weakest (in terms of ratings) may switch to a format that the management believes will be more profitable.

It is not uncommon at all for the same station to have several formats over its lifetime, even though it is being operated by the same management and under the same license. Sometimes, a station will even file for new call letters (the "name" of the station that begins with either K or W). They do that typically because they believe that the old call letters are too associated in the public's mind with the previous format.

"Nicknames" like J-105 or Kool 98 or whatever are just that--nicknames--and have nothing to do with the "official" name (call letters) of the station. They are made up by the management of the station and are not assigned by the FCC (the people who regulate broadcasting in America).

You are correct that stations need to be licensed, but to repeat, a station's format has NOTHING to do with their license.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  08:14 AM
Timmy O'Toole said:

"Can they do that legally? Just change a stations name and playlist to classic rock overnight? You'd never be allowed to do that in the UK, where radio is regulated to within an inch of it's life. Thankfully."

Yes, Timmy, in the U.S., stations can and do change formats at will. As I explained to Maegan above, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) does NOT regulate a station's format at all.

It happens all the time. In his movie, Private Parts (and the book of the same name), Howard Stern tells the story of a station he worked at which was Rock but switched to Country over a weekend. The format was completely different when he came in to work on Monday.

Damn near anyone who has worked in radio in the U.S. for any length of time can tell you a story like that. Either it's happened to them or to a friend. There is NO restriction on what format a station can have, other than concerning "decency."
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  08:20 AM
Hmm, apparently the first JackFM was in Vancouver, 96.9, changed format April 1st, 2003 (they seem to own the jackfm.com domain).
Posted by Splarka  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  08:22 AM
Splarka said:

"Our local mountain station KNGT was bought out by a conglomerate, but was assured they would be continuing to broadcast the same news and music, and keep the staff. They were lied to. The staff didn't find out until a few hours before they were fired."

That is SO not unusual as to be typical for radio. In fact, I'm surprised that they had even a few hours' warning.

Typically, how it works is that, suddenly, a staff meeting is called. This is almost never good news in the radio "business." The air staff is told then and there that they will no longer be needed and that they should clear out their desks.

As the joke in radio goes, "Remember your last show? Well, it WAS your last show!"
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  08:23 AM
Hello, I
Posted by Nigel  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  10:01 AM
They took over our 100.3 here in Dallas. I never listen to that format anyway.
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  10:25 AM
Nigel, you're right of course. Name, nickname, and format changes are not a new phenomenon. Radio stations seem to morph frequently. In the 80s, this happened a lot. Our pop-rock station became metal-rock, the pop-rock station became country. That was an interesting change because for the first month, while they were switching to the new format, they played Garth Brooks 24-7. We also have a recent Jack station 105.1.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  10:45 AM
I live in a county with 3 FM radio stations... One is Country Music (ack-gag), the other is crappy white pop music (nothing by African American Artists, cracker bastards), and, right up there on the hill, 3 miles from my house, is a 24hour Christian station... We have one AM station, all oldies, and when the local short-wave propagandists get to transmitting, AM is not an option... I love living in a cultural monestary- thank God, or Al Gore, for the internet.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  11:05 AM
It's not just radio... Remember when Van Halen decided to take over MTV and call it DAVE TV? What the....? I know the 80's were a different time, but if they tried that today, they would get a lot of feedback from the media, what with the 24 hour news stations and all. I'M JUST A GIGOLO, EVERYWHERE I GO........
Posted by booch  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  12:25 PM
In my area sometime in the early 80s, the same station broadcast on both AM & FM. They'd play the "clean" version of a song on AM, and the "dirty" version on FM. Interesting experiment, but didn't last long.
Posted by Nigel  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  01:42 PM
They are taking control of the radiowaves. Soon all stations will have lost any connection to reality, and the people will be unable to check the news. Then... the 3rd world war will begin... NOT!
Posted by AntiChrist  in  Somewhere  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  02:51 PM
I don't care if they take over all the radio stations. I get all my news from FOX anyway.

tongue rolleye
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  02:56 PM
Just a funny related story:

I used to listen to a station here in Fresno maybe 10 or 11 years ago, I think it was "Lite Rock" or "Adult Contemporary" or whatever they call it. I was up late at night with the radio on, and when midnight came around, the song stopped playing and a DJ came on, sounding really excited. "We've got some great news! Some major changes will be happening here at *station*, effective immediately! From now on, we will no longer be known as *station*, we will be known as..... K-GARTH! Yes, that's right! All Garth, all the time! 24 hours a day!!"

I cried myself to sleep that night. Fortunately, it was gone after about three hellish days, and the format was changed to hip-hop instead.
Posted by Kat  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  03:22 PM
"...for the first month, while they were switching to the new format, they played Garth Brooks 24-7..."

I've heard that stations sometimes do this kind of thing when they're bringing in a radical format change, just to clear out all the old listeners in order to cut down on the number and frequency of complaints when the new programming starts. After a month of Snoop Doggy Dog, you won't have nearly as many of the old Easy Listening fans calling to ask what's up with the new 24-hour Reggae format.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  06:52 PM
You are probably incorrect about the "random shuffle" part. These radio stations have programmers who line up songs that sound good together, that lead into particular kinds of ads well, that are appropriate for what they expect the audience is doing, and so on. Often, those programmers don't live in your city (or state) (or maybe even country), but the day's lineup is not random. This allows them to had a script to what's left of the on-air personality to read. "Hey, that was 'I'll Always Someting', and let's continue with one of Jack's favorites, 'Something Rock'".
Posted by Paul Hoffman  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  08:29 PM
Edmonton, Alberta's Power 92 was hi-jacked seemingly overnight and became "Joe, playing anything we want". There are gigantic "I Listen to Joe" signs all over the city. I thought this was some weird Canadian phenomena started by the Toronto station mentioned above, not realizing it's all over the States as well. I, too, would like to know who (or what) is behind this.
Posted by S.M. Elliott  in  Canada  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  11:30 PM
Aha.
We shoulda checked wiki first:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_FM

Posted by Splarka  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  01:32 AM
I just saw an ad for Jack 100.7. They said something like, "if you don't know 100.7, you don't know Jack."

Apparently, naming a product Jack and then advertising with the slogan "you don't know Jack" is an extremely slick move.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  02:58 AM
We have a Dick 108.5 FM station in the next county... "If you don't listen to us, you ain't heard Dick" What DOES Dick sound like, anyway? Stand up- I can't hear you
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  03:02 AM
Booch said:

"It's not just radio... Remember when Van Halen decided to take over MTV and call it DAVE TV? What the....?"

You probably realize this, but Van Halen didn't just "decide" to "take over" MTV. Stuff like that doesn't just happen on a whim. It's nothing more than a publicity stunt, agreed to by the management of the band and the management of MTV.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  03:15 AM
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