First Listen: Z100’s Maxwell & Crystal

When WHTZ (Z100) New York launched in August 1983, it was one of the stations that confirmed Top 40’s comeback. In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, it impacted the format in a different, less discussed way—cutting jock breaks to about four an hour and relying more heavily on imaging. 

So it was significant that at a challenging time for the format, Z100 made the decision to go to a team show in afternoons, pairing evening host Maxwell with KYLD (Wild 94.9) San Francisco’s Crystal Rosas, beginning in early June. Doing so, Radioinsight’s Lance Venta noted, was a tacit acknowledgement of personality as radio’s last line of defense, as well as the need for new franchises in a format dominated by veteran morning shows. Now there were seven jock breaks in afternoons, roughly evenly divided between station business and topical bits.

At least one Ross On Radio reader noticed. “I really hope you’ll write a column on Z100 soon,” wrote CNN writer/producer Jeff Durso. “I think it’s fascinating what they’re doing in afternoons with Maxwell & Crystal. I’m really enjoying their show so far and it definitely makes me stick around and listen to Z100 for a longer period of time than I would have done previously.”

In June, Z100 was up 4.1 – 4.6 6-plus, up from a 3.6 share six months earlier. CHR rebounds have to be viewed in context—the format was already considered challenged before its pandemic-era free-fall—but it’s one of a number of gratifying stories for Top 40 in both PPM and recently released spring diary markets. Here’s a First Listen to Maxwell & Crystal and a Fresh Listen to Z100:

Kid Laroi w/Miley Cyrus, “Without You”— coming out of it, the pair tease the next day’s rooftop broadcast from Versus, followed by a promo for the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas and the stopset. Out of the stopset is Z100’s famous “serving the universe” ID with a teaser for one of the upcoming hour’s topics—“do you have a meaningless job?”

Ariana Grande, “pov”— the duo do a bit about Barak Obama’s birthday party and joke about their invitation getting lost. Then they call a friend to and mangle singing “Happy Birthday.” Much of this is over a long custom intro to…

Justin Bieber, “Peaches”— followed by a whisper jingle into…

Duncan Laurence, “Arcade”— the duo talk about being excited to see Olivia Rodrigo on the daytime stage at the iHeart Music Festival and tease your chance to win a trip to the show at 5:30.

Olivia Rodrigo, “good 4 U”— followed by an “all the hits sweeper.”

Lizzo, “Good As Hell”— “We love our jobs” the duo notes, before launching into the teased bit about how 22% of all workers consider their job meaningless. There’s a caller whose job was overseeing the self-checkout line at a supermarket. What did she think during her shift? “Just take whatever you want.” There’s a stopset followed by a sweeper kicking off two hours commercial free.

Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name”— followed by an artist sweeper/power intro into…

Doja Cat f/SZA, “Kiss Me More”— leads into a break about the recent news that Forbes had declared Rihanna a billionaire.

Dua Lipa, “Love Again”— followed by a sweeper promoting the commercial-free bloc.

Post Malone, “Wow”— Maxwell talks about being in Chicago for Lollapalooza, but not being comfortable wading into a massive crowd for Malone’s set. They tease the Versus event again.

Ariana Grande, “Positions” – Another sweeper for the non-stop two hours.

Machine Gun Kelly & Blackbear, “My Ex’s Best Friend,” followed by a listener drop-in sweeper.

Olivia Rodrigo, “Déjà vu”— The daily “Petty Crown” award goes to the McDonald’s that sent an elaborately wrapped package to the listener who ordered only one sauce through a delivery service” into Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits.”

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