Tom Bender is the former General Manager of KRQX/Dallas and WCSX/Detroit. Today he is the Senior Vide President and General Manager of Greater Media Interactive.
So, back when we were both younger and Fred Jacobs had hair, he was the Research Director for the ABC-FM Station Group, and I was… As most years… At WRIF. I remember talking to him about some focus groups that he had done for one of the stations and he said that they didn’t turn out that great, but that he did trip across some interesting responses to older Album Rock material, which really resonated with the guys in the group. At that time, they were getting pretty fried on the steady diet of corporate rock.
As we chatted along, Fred said, “Just watch… A couple of more years, and there’ll be a hole for AOR Gold.”
A number of years pass, and I find myself in Dallas, Texas with a boss, Marty Greenberg, who wants to do something new and different with the station there. Driving around aimlessly, I found myself replaying that conversation with Fred, and thinking “What the heck? Maybe it’s time…It’s worth a shot.”
A couple of (long) phone calls later, I found myself and Fred sitting in my apartment, tearing through every album I owned, tossing out song titles and trying to figure out whether each title “fit” with what we were trying to accomplish. And today, just remembering the story reminds me that radio’s best ideas are found not in an auditorium test or a focus group, but when we take that knowledge and understanding of the audience and then go crazy and try to do things differently. Every innovation in this industry, and I’m proud to have been a part of Classic Rock, has come out of that conviction that there’s a better way if we just bend and break a few rules and go beyond the conventional thinking. It’s called entertainment.