As radio evolves, one old stand-by is alive and well: New Year's countdowns.
(After all, the holiday is ushered in with a countdown at midnight. Why shouldn't radio follow suit?)
A flip through the radio dial here in New York revealed stations in a variety of formats counting down 2011's top songs over the weekend, including Clear Channel mainstream top 40 WHTZ (Z100), where morning host Elvis Duran and afternoon talent JJ co-hosted the locally-produced feature, which included interview clips from syndicated middayer Ryan Seacrest. ( Katy Perry's "E.T.," featuring Kanye West, scored the tally's top spot).
Nationally, the year-end countdown remains as much a New Year's custom as soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions. It's also a chance for radio to reassert the power of localism, says Julie Pilat, assistant program director at Clear Channel KIIS (KIIS-FM 102.7) Los Angeles.
"We always program the station to be the best fit for L.A., playing a combination of the most popular, most-requested, biggest-reacting songs in the clubs and the best-selling music," Pilat says. "For New Year's, we ran the 'KIIS-FM Top 102 of 2011' Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at noon. There were a lot of exciting new artists that broke through, huge hit records and memories from 2011.
"It's fun to look back at what we all went through together."
Running a syndicated New Year's special also has its advantages, says MoJoe Roberts, PD of Cumulus KHOP (@95-1) Modesto, Calif. "We ran the 'American Top 40' year-end countdown. I like the way they've packaged it in recent years. It used to be a two-part countdown, with songs 100-51 one week and 50-1 the next. Now, they repackage 40-1, two weeks in a row with different year-end highlights.
"Since Nos. 100 through 41 typically contain a lot of titles no longer in rotation, this approach is more hit-driven."
When it comes to upholding a well-loved New Year's tradition, it's nice to see that radio isn't dropping the ball.