"Oldies isn't dying, it's being murdered," says local rock DJ Rich "Brother" Robbin about the "oldies" radio format. He suggests the people who run radio conglomerates are too lazy to make the format work.
Last week, Tijuana-based "Oldies 540" switched its '50s and '60s rock playlists to Rat Pack lounge and swing. Earlier this month, the only oldies stations in New York and Chicago changed formats to join at least six other major cities that no longer have a station based on Beatles/Beach Boys/Animals hits.
San Diego still has one oldies station: Clear Channel--owned "Kool 99.3."
"It's a one-man operation with one dedicated, live, on-air employee," says Robbin. "Every other voice [on Kool 99.3] is voice tracked."
Kool 99.3's current Arbitron ratings indicate it's 24th among listeners aged 25 to 54. (The number-one station in town is Spanish-language K-Love, which has a 4.9 rating.)
Robbin has worked at KGB/"Boss Radio" ('69--'70), KCBQ ('71--'74), and, in the early '90s, at K-Best 95 and KCBQ-FM. His programming decisions are credited with breaking such national hits as "Maggie May," "Wedding Bell Blues," and Ike & Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary."
Robbin, who recently moved back to San Diego after working in Nashville, Memphis, and Baton Rouge, now voice tracks his DJ shifts for oldies stations across the country. He says oldies radio still works in Phoenix and Cleveland and other cities because they "are playing the right records and using live DJs most of the time."
Robbin notes that the so-called "Jack" format (a diverse collection of '80s hits played without live DJs) is replacing the oldies format in many cities.
"Here's a bulletin: Jack ain't gonna work," Robbin says. "Jack will be little more than a faded memory by this time next year."