Homewood () - Local radio station WBPT
(106.9 FM, "106.9 the Eagle") is still a new station after almost three years. The station has been churning out classic hits since October 2005 without the format showing any signs of age. Program Director and PM Drive Time DJ Mike "Hurricane Shane" Schoenherr credits the continued newness to the station's fresh approach to the classics. "We don't just play the classics," he said. "We play never before heard combinations of classics." A recent scan of the station's "last songs played" database seems to support Schoenherr's assessment. There is no evidence that "The Logical Song" by Supertramp and "Back In Black" by AC/DC have ever been played in succession before, or will ever be again. "It is these combinations that continue to keep us new," said Schoenherr.
The Eagle does not take their responsibility to maintain newness lightly or leave the playlist up to simple chance. Extensive research into the late 80's playlists from former stalwarts "Kicks 106" and "I-95" produced a list of all previously played song combinations. "Now we can avoid those old combinations," said Schoenherr. "We don't play 'Tonight She Comes' followed by 'Every Breath You Take' anymore. Instead we might play 'Careless Whisper' followed by 'The Heat Is On' or 'What About Love' followed by 'Rasberry Beret'. See the difference?" The research also brought to light several forgotten bands like Eddie Money and Bon Jovi from which new combinations of classics have already been produced.
The station also continues to attract new fans of the classics by redefining just what a classic is. It is not unusual to hear early nineties music creeping into the staples from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. In fact in a sea change never before witnessed in radioland, most of the 60's classics are being taken out of the WBPT rotation. "The 60's really aren't classics anymore," said Schoenherr. "They are more like oldies." In order to make up for the loss Schoenherr has directed the computer to play more Little River Band tunes and has placed "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" by The Hollies in frequent rotation to make up for the loss of pre-1970 Creedence Clearwater Revival. "It is a struggle to keep these classics new," said Schoenherr. "We have a very demanding audience. They never get tired of their classics, but they want them to stay fresh."
In addition to tweaking the playlist and randomly generating unusual combinations of classics, station management also has the computer generate certain combinations of songs by the same artist known as "blocks." These combinations can be as few as two songs (on Tuesdays) or as many as three or more on "block party weekends." This wildly popular concept is not without its pitfalls. "One time the computer generated a block of four songs by Peter Frampton and we didn't catch it in time. We have since told the computer that there are only three Frampton songs and not to program the 14 minute version of "Do You Feel Like We Do." These minor problems aside, WBPT seems to have hit upon a great formula for success. "We are doing everything we can to stay new. Especially by saying 'new' all the time," said Schoenherr.