Ross On Radio’s Stories of Summer 2021

The Song of the Summer is often the song most associated with summer travel, but if you were fortunate enough to go anywhere this summer, you may have missed one of the Ross on Radio Stories of Summer 2021.” Since each week’s Ross On Radio newsletter is featuring more new content, and fewer reruns, here’s a countdown of the top five ROR stories on, in case you were away that particular week or missed one.

5 – First Listen, Z100’s Maxwell & Crystal – Most broadcasters were forced to consolidate, or consolidate further, over the last 18 months. iHeart Media made some strategic personnel additions, including a new afternoon show at WHTZ (Z100) New York. At a listener’s request, we took a First Listen.

4 – Close to The Edit: Pop Radio and Redacted Lyrics – As radio grapples to compete with streaming, there’s another disadvantage besides spot-load. Satellite radio and streaming can play the original versions of songs, while radio is stuck with edits that often render a song’s intent incomprehensible, unless you already know what the lyrics are. Often, there’s little consistency between what one song leaves and what another chooses to bleep. So why is Justin Bieber going to California?

3 – Why I Believe in Radio: 2021 – “The author is in complete denial about the radio business.” That’s what one ex-broadcaster tweeted in response to two stories I wrote this summer (see below) about the state of radio. I like to think I’m clear-eyed about it. Listeners will always want what radio does. The only question is who they’ll get it from. This column was the successor to 2020’s popular “Six Things I Need to Tell You.”

2 – What Difference Do Jocks Make? This was actually two different stories, both prompted by a Spotify user in Germany who had created dynamic playlists that re-created some of the worlds great radio stations in real time. So I took a listen to some of those stations to analyze their jock content and ask, “I Missed the Jock Break: What Did I Miss?” Then I asked if offering a jockless version of their own stations would be “A Magic Button for Radio.”

1 – When Rock Ruled the World: A 40-Year Timeline – There were a lot of fortieth anniversary retrospectives of MTV, but nothing about the radio and music landscape of 1981, a time when Top 40 had almost dissolved entirely, while pop/rock music ruled the airwaves. We looked at the state of rock radio at ten-year intervals, and whether the time is right for rock music to return to the pop mainstream.

If you’ve enjoyed the “Lost Factor” series on which songs have endured over the years, and which are disproportionately ignored by radio now, all those articles can be found here. Most recently, we looked at the “Lost Hits of 1999,” our most recent year so far. There’s more “Lost Factor” to come, including our calculations of 1960-99, and more thoughts on why certain hit songs didn’t endure.

Thanks, as always, for your support of Ross On Radio. I’m always looking to hear what’s concerning you, or making you happy, about the industry and its infinite dial. I can always be reached at 

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