Adult standards

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Adult standards is a North American radio format heard primarily on AM or class A FM stations.

Adult standards (also sometimes known as the nostalgia format) is aimed at "mature" adults, meaning mainly those persons over 50 years of age, but it is mostly targeted for senior citizens. It is primarily on AM because market research reveals that only persons in that age group listen to music on AM in sizable numbers. Adult standards first became a popular format in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a way to reach mature adults who came of age before the rock era but were perhaps too mature for adult contemporary radio or too young for beautiful music. A typical adult standards playlist includes popular music standards by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, some "easy listening" numbers from Roger Whittaker and others, and softer tunes from the oldies and adult contemporary formats. The format once included big band music, particularly from the 1940s and 1950s, though the oldest songs have been de-emphasized on most stations. Younger artists who record in the big-band era style, such as Harry Connick, Jr. or Diana Krall, may be played as well; some stations will occasionally include former old-time radio series programs such as Fibber McGee & Molly or I Love a Mystery as a change of pace. Some adult standards stations air When Radio Was, a daily old-time radio retrospective currently hosted by Greg Bell.

At one time there were several hundred such stations, a number that has declined to approximately 200 as of 2012. Because the adult standards audience has increased in age to the point where many of its listeners have either died or are no longer attractive to advertisers, and because AM radio (long the province of the format) has itself been in severe decline, the format as it is known today (much like the contemporary decline of oldies and smooth jazz formats, along with the earlier demise of easy listening) is likely to die out. Most independently programmed former adult standards stations have transitioned to other formats such as oldies, classic hits, or adult contemporary music that have similar music but skew toward more modern songs.

Satellite delivered formats[edit]

Only about a handful of adult standards stations today are live and locally programmed around-the-clock. Many have affiliated with nationally distributed satellite formats to cut costs; due to advertiser perceptions about the audiences these stations primarily target, a large number of adult standards stations have trouble selling airtime to advertisers, which makes them unprofitable. For example, KIXI 880 AM, serving the Seattle market and KKIN 930 AM partway, terminated its local airstaff to affiliate with the Music of Your Life network. Many others have simply dumped the format altogether, often for all-talk or all-sports formats, oldies, or other formats deemed more profitable than standards by management.

Music of Your Life was an adult standards satellite delivered format that probably more than any other source defined the format. Music of Your Life, which was founded by Al Ham in 1978 and boasts a roster of well-known personalities including Deana Martin, Peter Marshall and weekend host Pat Boone, was distributed by Jones Radio Networks. A dispute between the Music of Your Life CEO and former PD and host Chuck Southcott along with former jocks Wink Martindale and Gary Owens (among others) over lack of payment led to Owens, Martindale and company splitting off and Jones ultimately deciding to abandon the format at the end of 2007 and introduce a new format of its own (since merged into the Dial Global format). Music of Your Life is still distributed independently. Los Angeles radio legend Johnny Magnus rejoined the format in 2008.

Dial Global (formerly part of Westwood One) has an adult standards format distributed via satellite; Dial Global's is called "Adult Standards" (known on-air as "America's Best Music"). Prior to 2010, ABC distributed Stardust/Timeless Classics/Timeless. Stardust/Timeless Classics was consolidated with a soft oldies/AC network owned by ABC—Unforgettable Favorites/Memories—in 2006, creating Timeless. Westwood One originally called its format AM Only and for a time, as the name suggests, offered the format only to AM stations; today, a handful of FM stations also air Westwood One's format.

While Music of Your Life has not eliminated all of the big-band and traditional pop music from its playlist, Westwood One and ABC dropped much of the older music in favor of softer pop and rock oldies from the 1960s and 1970s top 40 era and a good deal of soft AC material as well. Under Dial Global, some of the older-style songs are making a comeback on the Westwood One format. ABC discontinued its Timeless service early in 2010; that same year, Music of Your Life added more 1960s oldies to its playlist.

Clear Channel Communications' Format Lab also features at least two adult standards formats.

Adult standards artists[edit]

Artists typically heard on adult standards radio stations may include the following:

Adult standards terrestrial stations[edit]

Some noteworthy AM & FM radio stations featuring the adult standards format today include:

Call sign Frequency City of License Website Additional Notes
CFJL-FM 100.7 FM Winnipeg, Manitoba [1] Stream Like The "Jewel"-branded stations, CFJL have recently moved more toward Soft AC and identify with the moniker "Lite & Refreshing" However, traditional Standards are still played at night.
CFZM 740 AM Toronto, Ontario [2] Stream Believed to be the only remaining adult standards-formatted station in North America broadcasting on a 50,000-watt clear channel signal. Selections are announced on air. Has a strong international following.
CISL 650 AM Vancouver, British Columbia [3] Stream
CJNU-FM 107.9 FM Winnipeg, Manitoba [4] Stream
CJWL-FM 98.5 FM Ottawa, Ontario [5] Stream The "Jewel"-branded stations have recently moved more toward Soft AC and identify with the moniker "Refreshing Lite Hits." However, traditional Standards are still played at night.
CKDX-FM 88.5 FM Newmarket, Ontario [6] Stream The "Jewel"-branded stations have recently moved more toward Soft AC and identify with the moniker "Refreshing Lite Hits." However, traditional Standards are still played at night.
CKHK-FM 107.7 FM Hawkesbury, Ontario [7] Stream The "Jewel"-branded stations have recently moved more toward Soft AC and identify with the moniker "Refreshing Lite Hits." However, traditional Standards are still played at night.
CKPC-FM 92.1 FM Brantford, Ontario [8] Stream The "Jewel"-branded stations have recently moved more toward Soft AC and identify with the moniker "Refreshing Lite Hits." However, traditional Standards are still played at night.
KAAM 770 AM Garland, Texas [9] Stream
KBFL-FM 99.9 FM Springfield, Missouri [10] Stream
KCEE 690 AM Tucson, Arizona [11] Stream
KDKK 97.5 FM Park Rapids, Minnesota [12]Stream Locally originating music format. Installation of Microsoft Silverlight required for stream.
KKIN 930 AM Aitkin, Minnesota This station has started to become more adult contemporary and classic hits format, although few traditional standards are played
KEZW 1430 AM Denver, Colorado
KIXI 880 AM Seattle, Washington [13]Stream 50 kW daytime, 10 kW nights.
KJWL 99.3 FM Fresno, California [14]
KKOV 1550 AM Vancouver, Washington [15]Stream Airs America's Best Music format
KLBB 1220 AM Stillwater, Minnesota [16] Stream Airs both Music of Your Life and America's Best Music
KMRY 1450 AM Cedar Rapids, Iowa
KQSO-LP 102.9 FM Newberg, Oregon [17]
KTKC 1460 AM Springhill, Louisiana
KTUC 1400 AM Tucson, Arizona [18] Stream
KZQX 100.3 FM Tatum, Texas [19] Stream
WBNJ 91.9 FM Barnegat, New Jersey [20]
WDDV 1320 AM Venice, Florida [21] Stream
WECK 1230 AM
102.9 FM
Cheektowaga, New York [22] Returned to the format in 2013 after seven years (during which the station dabbled in classic country, sports talk and MOR). WECK was a commercially successful standards station from 1981 to 2006.
1600 AM
1590 AM
1360 AM
Southern Tier, New York [23] Trimulcast, originating from WEHH in Elmira.
WHYL 960 AM Carlisle-Harrisburg, PA [24]
WIZZ 1520 AM Greenfield, MA [25] Stream Daytimer; locally programmed "Great Music Memories"
WJIB 740 AM Cambridge, Massachusetts
WJUB 1420 AM Plymouth, Wisconsin [26]Stream Independently programmed with Adult Standards format since 2003; operated by Jubilation Ministries, which also owns sister station WSTM, which plays a Christian Praise and Worship format.
WKHR 91.5 FM Cleveland, Ohio [27] Stream Owned by the Kenston Local School District and programmed by both community volunteers and Kenston High School students
WKTZ 1220 AM Jacksonville, Florida Airs Dial Global's America's Best Music format; operated by Jones College which also owns Beautiful Music sister station WKTZ-FM.
WLEC 1450 AM Sandusky, Ohio [28] Airs Dial Global Local's The Lounge format
WLEZ-LP 100.1 FM Jackson, Mississippi [29] Stream
WLHC 103.1 FM Sanford, North Carolina [30]
WMBS 590 AM Uniontown, Pennsylvania [31] Stream
WMNI 920 AM Columbus, Ohio Airs Dial Global's America's Best Music format
WMPX/WMRX 1490 AM/97.7 FM Midland, Michigan [32] Airs Dial Global's America's Best Music format
WNBP 1450 AM Newburyport, Massachusetts [33]
WOLI 910AM / 105.7FM Spartanburg, South Carolina [34] Stream Locally programmed with some brokered programming. 'Timeless Classics' are featured mixing easy listening staples with adult standards and some 1950s' and early-1960s' pop tunes.
WQUN 1220 AM Hamden, Connecticut Airs Dial Global's America's Best Music format
WSDV 1450 AM Sarasota, Florida [35] Stream Full-time simulcast of WDDV
95.9 FM
106.9 FM
North Palm Beach, Florida

Satellite radio[edit]

Moving into the 21st Century, adult standards have been given a lift as a format by new media, such as:

Internet radio[edit]

Internet radio stations have given loyal lovers of standards and nostalgia more listening options than perhaps any other medium as the 21st Century unfolds. Advantages include more independent style programming geared for a worldwide audience. Some Internet radio stations blend in classic vocal music from Europe and Latin America. Programming venues vary from singular independently programmed stations on stand-a-lone websites, to entire groups of independently programmed stations grouped together under a format heading. Some of the latest stations include Sweet Memories Radio, some of the most popular services include, Pandora, iTunes and other web radio media.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]