The Return of the Playlists

During my college radio years – the early college radio years, from 1981 to 1985  – we had a strict rule.  Whatever a DJ played on the air had to be written down on a special sheet of paper.  This was your playlist.  It didn’t matter if you played ten Beatles records in a row, every song and every artist had to be written down on the sheet and submitted.  Then, the music director or the program director would add up all the songs, mail out a list of what was played to the record companies, who would then in turn send new product to the station.  It was a nice case of symbiosis – if you wanted that brand new college radio track, you better damn well prove that you were playing the latest record company materials, or they wouldn’t send it to you – or they’d send you some other stuff that was laying around in their vaults that they just wanted to get rid of.

Now we go to my current college radio years – 2020 to whenever.  The current program director, in a zoom meeting with all the new WHCL radio DJ’s, informed us that we are required to maintain written playlists – this is non-negotiable – and since we’re all pre-recording our programs due to COVID-19, the playlists must be uploaded to an online service called Spinitron.

For a moment, I had this image that Spinitron might have been the son or daughter of Spinderella.

Okay, I know for that joke, I had to push it … push it real good …

Anyways, Spinitron is a service used by over 200 different non-commercial radio stations to make sure that artists are paid when their songs are played.  It’s a copyright thing.

Okay.  I can upload my old playlists from the summer when I’m able, but for now, I have to work forward and maintain my playlists on Spinitron.  It’s non-negotiable.  You know, like NOT SAYING CURSE WORDS WHEN YOUR MICROPHONE IS ON, Uncle Don.

Another thing Spinitron will do is take all the playlists and calculate which songs and albums received the most spins.  Like, for example, the number one album for the week of August 21-27 was by some group named Khruangbin, who had an album called Mordechai.

Well … oh … kay …

So last night, I loaded my playlist for my upcoming September 18th show, my first to air in the new Friday 8:00 P.M. slot.  Spinitron is pretty intuitive – for example, if I type in “Marshall Crenshaw” as an artist, it will instantly pull up every Marshall Crenshaw song as a possible selection.  Then I work forward through that.  I also have to log in exactly when the song will be played (which, since the show is pre-recorded, I can do).

Now Spinitron can’t catch everything, in many cases I have to go in and fill out other missing materials, like if the song was on an album, who the composers were (yes, Spinitron wants the songwriters listed so they can get paid, too).  But if I’m preparing the list at the same time that I’m recording the show, it’s not a big issue.  And it does allow for corrections and updates, so that’s good as well.

And when it’s done, it can actually spit out a printed playlist, which can be e-mailed to the DJ’s fanbase.  Like for example.  This is the playlist for my upcoming show.  See?

Playlist for “The Nightowl Radio Show” 9/18/20
Chuck Miller ( sent you this playlist using Spinitron.
“The Nightowl Radio Show” (Chuck Miller) Sep 18, 2020 8:00 PM–9:00 PM
Time Artist Song Release Genre Label
8:01:00 PM Marshall Crenshaw Whenever You’re On My Mind Field Day Rock Warner Records
8:04:00 PM The Ugly Ducklings Gaslight The Ugly Ducklings Rock Unidisc Music Inc.
8:07:00 PM The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band Hippy Elevator Operator Hanna-Barbera
8:11:00 PM Yvonne Baker and the Senations You Didn’t Say A Word Cameo-Parkway
8:15:00 PM The Seven Souls I Still Love You R&B/Soul OKeh
8:20:00 PM Split Enz I Got You True Colours Rock WM Australia
8:24:15 PM Bent Magic Love Magic Love – Single Ministry of Sound Recordings
8:31:00 PM Jacynthe Don’t Touch Those Faders (French Version) Don’t Touch Those Faders – Single Pop Whammo Music
8:34:00 PM Yaz Don’t Go Upstairs at Eric’s Electronic Rhino/Warner Records
8:38:00 PM DD Smash Whaling The Optimist
8:41:00 PM Bobby Hutton Lend a Hand ABC
8:45:00 PM The Human League Being Boiled (Travelogue Version) Travelogue Virgin
8:49:00 PM Jenny Burton Remember What You Like In Black and White Pop Rhino Atlantic
8:56:00 PM Emerson Bimby My Little Bomb Show Nuff

Wow.  I did that all by myself, I did.  Not bad for a 57-year-old college student.

Yes, let’s make the old college student “rah rah boola boola sis boom bah”  jokes.  “I say, Elihu, what will Chuck Miller major in?”  “I don’t know, Chip, but I suggest at that advanced age, he probably would major in registration.”

Oh, there’s a knee slapper. 😀

All right then.  So this broadcasting thing is official.  I’ve got playlists to prove it.

So maybe what I’ll do on Friday nights, when I know my show will air, is I’ll post the playlist to my blog, along with a clickable link to WHCL’s streaming signal, so if you happen to tune in, you can enjoy the show and follow along with the music.

Whether I play this Khruangbin group or not … that’s another story in and of itself.