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Chart Beat Podcast: Fred Bronson on His ‘Billboard Book of Number One Hits’ & Why ‘American Idol’ Will Be Back

In the second episode, Billboard's newest podcast picks up where the first one left off, as Bronson discusses his 16-year run writing Billboard's Chart Beat column after original author, and last…

“I knew at age 5 I wanted to write,” says longtime Billboard columnist Fred Bronson.

“I couldn’t paint, I couldn’t sing, I wasn’t good at sports. But I could write.”

And he’s yet to stop since … thankfully, for music fans around the world.

On the second edition of Billboard‘s Chart Beat Podcast, Bronson chats with host and Billboard co-director of charts Gary Trust about the former’s renowned career, which, in 1993, led to his becoming the author of Billboard‘s Chart Beat column, a role he held through 2009. (He’s now a regular contributor to and sister Hollywood Reporter site Bronson is also well known for his invaluable reference source The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, which tells the stories of hundreds of songs that have topped the Billboard Hot 100 from the 1950s through the 2000s.


“Think of a term paper … multiplied a thousand times,” Bronson says of the efforts that went into the book. “Cumulatively, I probably put about five years of work in.”

Billboard’s Chart Beat: All Our Coverage

Bronson additionally discusses his lengthy run at Dick Clark Productions and as contributor to and historian for Fox’s American Idol. While the series is celebrating its sendoff, Bronson is convinced that it will return. “Idol will be back within two years,” he says. “It won’t be on Fox, but it will be back, in some form.” Why? “People remember [Idol contestants]. It’s the way the show is built. You root for them, you feel like you know them. You vote for them, so you feel invested in their careers. And the show has come through with a number of superstars.”

(Also covered: Which two legendary divas are well-read-up on their own Billboard chart achievements?)

Chart Beat Podcast: Chart Beat Founder Paul Grein on Why We Love the Charts

Enjoy this week’s Chart Beat Podcast and stay tuned for upcoming discussions with record label executives, radio programmers, songwriters and more, all with the goal of analyzing the many factors that go into making songs and albums Billboard chart hits.