Radio Waves: 10/11/19

WOW radio in Phoenix

John Sebastian must have said, “Wow!” When he got word that Riviera Broadcasting’s KOAI/Sun City West (near Phoenix), Arizona chose to hire him as a programmer/consultant to become the very first WOW Factor station.

OK, that was a cheesy way for me to report it, but I do know that Sebastian is elated to join KOAI. He has programmed in Phoenix before at KSLX, KUPD, and KDKB, so he knows and loves the area. But more importantly, it gives him fertile ground to test out his Boomer-oriented format that has been in the planning stages for officially over a year and truly his entire career.

“I’ve programmed to Boomers all of my professional life,” he told me recently, whether it was when they were young listening to top-40 or older listening to Smooth Jazz or classic rock.” The WOW Factor hopes to build on all of Sebastian’s past experience and instincts while taking radio in a new direction.

“KOAI will be the first of many WOW Factor station across America with an eclectic mix of music researched and curated for Baby Boomers,” he said in the official press release announcing the agreement with KOAI. But it’s not just music; Sebastian told me that he is breaking all the rules, including his own, in launching this format. 

“There are apps for everything now,” he explained. “You don’t need radio to tell you things you already know.” The WOW Factor is designed to move music radio forward with an entertaining style that fits with modern living. 

Unfortunately, it’s not streaming outside of Arizona — yet — so I can’t hear it for myself. But the first hour of music was published on RadioInsight.Com, and included such varied artists as The Moody Blues, Chicago, Keith Urban, Coldplay, Alan Jackson and Ambrosia. Not a bad mix.

Other hours featured Naked Eyes, The Beatles, the Bellamy Brothers, Alive and Kickin’, Genesis, Donna Summer, The Vogues, and The Box Tops. An interesting variety marred only by Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis,” which should never be played outside of special segments like the Jukebox From Hell that used to run on SiriusXM’s Seventies on Seven (and a bit I am stealing for my own station … once I get one …) And even then it should only happen at times when non one is listening, such as transmitter maintenance time.

Personally, I want to know both the rest of the format, which you can’t truly just put on a list. Great radio happens between the songs, as a great programmer once said. So hopefully the station will start streaming outside of the Phoenix area and I can truly check it out.

My Cousin

I have stated many times — I never “got” Cousin Brucie (Bruce Morrow), heard on SiriusXM’s Sixties on Six. Morrow was the King of top-40 radio in New York during the days of dominance of AM music radio, and can be heard on Channel 6 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays as well as Saturdays and Sundays 5-9 p.m.

I just didn’t get the cousin thing. You’re my cousin, I’m your cousin, yada yada … it had to be an East Coast thing, as top-40 radio was definitely different on the two coasts.

But recently I was listening to Morrow on the drive home from my sister’s house and … it clicked. After listening for an hour in traffic, I began to appreciate the quality show my cousin was putting on. He is tremendously positive 100 percent of the time, infectiously positive you might say. And that’s exactly why he’s so appealing. You can’t feel down after listening to Cousin Brucie. You just can’t.