Rotation (music)

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"Heavy rotation" redirects here. For other uses, see Heavy Rotation (disambiguation).
For rotation in music theory, see Permutation (music).

In broadcasting, rotation is the repeated airing of a limited playlist of songs on a radio station or satellite radio channel, or music videos on a TV network. They are usually in a different order each time, however they are not completely shuffled, so as to avoid playing the same song again too long or short apart. Stations playing new music typically have a short rotation of around four hours, while stations playing "classics" may go as long as eight hours. College radio and indie radio stations sometimes have no particular rotation, only the music director's suggested lists for the disc jockeys, or are totally freeform radio. Broadcast automation systems handle a limited rotation quite well, in turn making voice tracking easy. Even if a live person is present, the automation system at commercial stations usually picks the music ahead of time out of the current rotation, thus the DJ becomes only an announcer.

Heavy rotation or power rotation is a term that applies to a list of songs that get the most airplay on a radio station. Songs in heavy rotation will be played many times in a 24-hour period. A reason for playing the same song more than once a day is many listeners tune in expecting to hear their favorite song, and most listeners don't listen to the radio for extended periods of time. However, this also leads to listener fatigue for those who work in stores and must hear the same songs repeatedly every day.

A song placed in "lunar rotation" is one that is only played in off-peak hours, usually late at night. There can be various reasons for this, but such songs are usually not hits and are played because of the personal musical preference of the DJ or programmer, to avoid more stringent daypart-based regulations on music content or to fulfill a broadcasting obligation such as Canadian content quotas. (See also "beaver hour".)

A song placed in recurrent rotation continues to be played on a radio station long after it has left the current charts.