Music Radio Playlists and Formats Podcast Season 1 radio playlists Music Radio Creative

Music radio formatting and creating radio playlists can be a science – refined by radio station directors and music schedulers for years. Is there an art to creating a radio station playlist with music, jingles and adverts or is it a job best left to a computer? Listen to Mike Russell talk about music radio formatting in this episode.

Leo sent me an email via the contact form to ask, “could you talk about formatting music on radio, what it is, and if we really need it? Maybe some examples, like how often play jingles/idents on internet radio?”. I talk in length about this in the latest podcast episode just click the play button (above) or download the podcast to listen to my thoughts.

My First Days In Radio

Yes, they had a computer at the first radio station that I started at as a volunteer. The radio station had the music scheduled by software called Selector for MS-DOS (that’s how old I am!) This is the place that I got to grips with music scheduling and acquired my music scheduling A to Z knowledge.

Radio Playlists

The A List

These are the popular ‘songs of the moment’ and rotate at the highest frequency on a radio station playlist (usually every 3-4 hours). You’ll often hear music radio presenters complain that they always play the same music – the truth is they are – but the listeners want to hear their top tunes again and again.

The B List

The B list is similar to the A list, slightly less rotation, you’d usually hear B list songs two or three times a day.

The C List

This is sometimes reserved for alternative radio stations or stations that have a wider scope of music. These popular ‘of the day’ tracks will usually play once every day or two.

H is for Hold

This is a category for music that the head of music doesn’t want to play on the air but has no idea where to place it.

I is a Big Category and Stands for Image

These are the radio station’s IMAGE songs. They’re usually powerful songs that come out of breaks and long speech points and help to give the radio station an identity. An example of this would be a rock station choosing Ozzy Osborne, Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix for their image songs.

O is for Opener

Opener songs come right out of the news at the ‘top of the hour’ they are powerful tunes that get the radio station back on its feet after a long segment of talk radio.

R, S and X Categories

Finally there are trusty R (recurrent) songs which come around and are timeless. S is for spice – those silly songs that really brighten up a playlist – many music schedulers don’t use this category as it is seen as a dangerous deviation from ‘safe’ music radio. Finally X is for ‘Xmas’ and these songs usually come around once a year around the last week of November until 25th December.

How To Use Radio Jingles on Radio Stations

It has always been the case that radio jingles would be interruptive of music and break flow to remind listeners of the station they’re listening to. This is especially true in the UK where radio listening habits are still recorded and measured in diary form. The US now has PPM (Personal People Meter) technology and as this is more ‘real-time’ the flow of music is vital.

How Would You Schedule Music On A Radio Station?

Leave a comment below this post and let me know about the categories and techniques you use to make the music flow on your radio station.


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this great episode! I use the a,b,clists myself, together with a top 2000 for variation. The hold category is a good idea! And in the future, when i get a bit better economy, ill order some power intros from you 🙂

    Beautiful work on our two intros for midnight mark and house party on smashradio b the way! 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed the episode Leo. Great idea to use a 2000 list. It’s also a good idea to maybe have a 1990, 1980 etc. category setup too perhaps?

      Thanks for the kind words and for listening 🙂

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