Fred Bronson discusses, radio, faith on the charts, Reba McEntire and Monica with readers.

RADIO DISCONNECT

Dear Fred,

I've been reading your column online for about a year now [and last week's] article struck a nerve.

I used to listen to the radio all the time, at home and in the car. But I find myself listening to CDs more and more because I feel abandoned by radio. I've even e-mailed back and forth about this with a local radio personality I admire (Arroe Collins of WLNK Charlotte). He and I feel that our generation (early 40s) have been forgotten or labeled as "old."

It used to be that different radio stations offered a selection of music, and there were choices. You might have a few "favorite" stations. I was always fond of album rock, top 40 and occasionally oldies (that my parents raised me on). But the stations always played a large variety of artists. I could hear John Denver, Elton John, Eagles, Toto, Steely Dan, ELO, Queen, Billy Joel, Blondie, the Cars, and when I was feeling silly, I even ventured over to disco.

Now I feel like there are just a few formats, and only a few artists played on each format. My choices in Charlotte seem so limited. I'm not a huge fan of country (big here), "LITE" is too lightweight for me, I am too young to listen to "oldies" for any length of time, mostly because they aren't "my" oldies.

One station I liked has changed to an all-talk format for most of the day. Another station plays a lot of urban, which I have no problem with, but the playlist is [too small].

Where's the selection? You gotta play more than 15 songs to be top 40! Where are the other artists? Where are the new male voices? I know Ben Jelen and Clay Aiken have a lot of fans, why don't we hear them? Where is something for mature music fans, but with a faster beat? I don't want to languish away my remaining youth shackled to the slower songs of "LITE" formats, I still feel young!

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for bringing up this topic. I feel like I have been beating my head up against a wall when it comes to music played on radio. And I feel forgotten, like I don't matter to radio anymore.

Karen Patton
Charlotte, N.C.

Dear Karen,

Thanks for your response to what was written last week. I received more than a dozen e-mails on the same topic this week, so your comments get to represent all of those letters. I'm guessing there was some discussion of radio airplay on one of the Clay Aiken message boards that generated the e-mails to me.

Your last comment is true, I'm afraid. If you are in your 40s, you don't matter to most radio stations anymore. They are going for a much younger demographic, especially if they play contemporary music like top 40 or R&B/hip-hop.

I was an avid radio listener when I was in my teens and 20s, and even into my 30s. But these days I do what you do -- I listen to CDs a lot. I also listen to Internet radio.

There are thousands of radio stations at Live 365, with every format you can imagine. I know, because a friend of mine started his own radio station called "Pop Goes the 70s" (the title was inspired by a series I had on digital cable radio provider Music Choice called "Pop Goes the World"). He plays oldies from the '70s, which might appeal to you rather than the oldies of the '50s and '60s.

I've been giving serious consideration to starting my own station at the Live 365 site. If I ever find the time, I'll let you know when "Radio Fred Bronson" is on the air.



GOSPEL TRUTH

Fred,

I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned in your column, but it does seem that the charts have been getting into the spirit.

Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" could be [Jesus] Christ's second coming to the top 10 in eight years; the last time being George Michael's top 10 [hit] "Jesus to a Child." We also see Switchfoot's single, "Meant to Live" (the group holds the top spot on the Christian album chart) and Los Lonely Boys "Heaven" hovering in the top 20.

For those seeking eternal life, look no further than Evanescence's "My Immortal."

Amen.

Kevin Martin
New York

Dear Kevin,

This is why I have faith in you.



'SOMEBODY' TO LOVE

Hi Fred,

Reba McEntire's single "Somebody" has just reached No. 1 [on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart]. This makes it her 22nd No. 1 hit, putting her in second place for most No. 1s by a female country artist.

Reba also breaks the record for longest span of No. 1 hits by a female country artist. I think this is great for one of country music's greatest singers and performers of all time.

My question is, who has the most No. 1 singles by a country artist and where does Reba sit?

Thank you very much,

Greg Dow

Dear Greg,

It's a great chart week for Reba McEntire. Full details of her chart achievements with "Somebody" can be found in the Chart Beat column in the Aug. 4 print edition of Billboard. There's also an item about her in "Chart Beat Bonus."

As you point out, McEntire now has the longest span of No. 1s by a solo female artist. Counting back to January 1983, when she earned her first chart-topper with "Can't Even Get the Blues," her span of No. 1 hits is 21 years and seven months.

That beats Dolly Parton's span of No. 1 tunes, which stretches over 20 years and three months, from "Joshua" in February 1971 to "Rockin' Years," recorded with Ricky Van Shelton, in May 1991. Parton is still ahead in sheer number of chart-toppers, with 24 to McEntire's 22.

Dolly and Reba still have a long way to go to match the artist with the most No. 1 titles on our country chart. Dolly needs 16 more and Reba needs another 18 to equal the 40 No. 1 hits racked up by Conway Twitty.



GIVE MONICA HER DUE

Hi Fred,

I love your weekly columns. However, I think there has been an inaccuracy in [last week's] "Chart Beat Bonus." You wrote: "[Usher]'s the first artist to have three consecutive releases reach No. 1 since Mariah Carey did it in between 1995-98."

I would argue he is the first since Monica in 1998-99. Her consecutive No. 1 hits: "The Boy Is Mine" (duet with Brandy), "The First Night" and "Angel of Mine."

Niko Mitsarakis
Wuppertal, Germany


Hi Fred,

And what about Monica and her three consecutive No. 1 hits from the end of the 1990s? Wasn't she the last one to achieve this unique success with "The Boy Is Mine," "The First Night" and "Angel of Mine?"

Best regards,

Martin Caslavka
London

Dear Niko and Martin,

You're both correct; Monica should have been the one to receive credit for being the most recent artist before Usher to pull off this hat trick. Interesting that it was readers in Europe who were the first to spot this mistake about the U.S. charts!



REST IN PEACE

Hi,

I'm a fan of your column who is not just interested in the Billboard charts, but music charts in general. I hooked up with a few chart communities who make their own personal charts, and I have my own at jessicastop25.50megs.com.

After I found out that Juvenile's "Slow Motion" featuring Soulja Slim, who was murdered on Nov. 26, 2003, went to No. 1 this week on the Hot 100, I rushed to research other artists who had one or more No. 1 Hot 100 hits after death. I came up with three results:

Jim Croce died in a plane crash on Sept. 20, 1973, and a few months later, his song "Time in a Bottle" posthumously hit No. 1 on Dec. 29, 1973. Seven years later, John Lennon was murdered on Dec. 8, 1980, and his song "(Just Like) Starting Over" reached No. 1 just weeks later, on Dec. 27, 1980.

Before Soulja Slim hit No. 1 as a featured artist this week, the last artist to posthumously hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 was another rap artist who was a murder victim: the Notorious B.I.G. He had two songs hit No. 1 after he was killed on March 9, 1997: "Hypnotize" (May 3, 1997) and "Mo Money Mo Problems" featuring Puff Daddy and Mase (Aug. 30, 1997).

I know many artists have charted on the Hot 100 posthumously without reaching the top, but would this make Soulja Slim the fourth artist to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 after death?

Thanks,

Jessica Jones
Jessica's Top 25
http://jessicastop25.50megs.com

Dear Jessica,

Thanks for your sharp observation about Soulja Slim.

You did miss a couple of earlier posthumous No. 1 singles on the Hot 100. Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 10, 1967. Three days earlier, he had recorded "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," which became the first posthumous No. 1 of the rock era when it began a four-week run at the top the week of March 16, 1968.

Janis Joplin was found dead in a Hollywood motel room on Oct. 4, 1970. She hadn't quite completed recording her "Pearl" album. When that LP was released, it contained the second posthumous No. 1 of the rock era, "Me and Bobby McGee." Issued as a single, that Kris Kristofferson-penned classic began two-week reign the week of March 20, 1971.