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 or MOR stations. A typical adult standards playlist includes traditional pop music 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; as originally conceived, the format also features big band music, particularly from the 1940s and 1950s, though most modern stations eschew that genre. Younger artists who record in the big-band era style, such as Harry Connick, Jr., or Diana Krall, may be played as well. The term "standards" in the format's title is a reference to the standard, a song that is covered extensively by many artists over a prolonged period of time; adult standards may play true standards but are not limited to them.

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, 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 is an adult standards format that probably more than any other source defined the format. Music of Your Life, was founded by Al Ham in 1978 and boasts a roster of well-known personalities including Peter Marshall, Steve March-Torme, son of the legendary crooner, Mel Torme, big band leader Les Brown, Jr., radio veteran Al Hardee, Lorri Hafer, daughter of founder Al Ham, and weekend host Pat Boone. Following an internal shakeup in 2008, business developer, Marc Angell took over the fledgling network and moved the company's broadcasting operations to Denver, CO, under a distribution deal with Clear Channel Satellite. Music of Your Life is currently distributed by Music of Your Life, Inc. a publicly traded company listed on the OTC markets under the ticker symbol, MYLI, and is distributed to AM, FM, and HD radio stations using the Barix system.

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 middle-of-the-road format 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.

iHeartMedia's 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 Additional Notes
CFJL-FM 100.7 FM Winnipeg, Manitoba Like The "Jewel"-branded stations, CFJL-FM has 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 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
CJNU-FM 107.9 FM Winnipeg, Manitoba
CJWL-FM 98.5 FM Ottawa, Ontario 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 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 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 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
KBFL-FM 99.9 FM Springfield, Missouri
KCEE 690 AM Tucson, Arizona
KDKK 97.5 FM Park Rapids, Minnesota
KKIN 930 AM Aitkin, Minnesota Since August 4, 2014, the station has switched to a sports format with a syndication of NBC Sports Radio. Since August 1, 2017, the station has returned to the adult standards format once again.
KIXI 880 AM Seattle, Washington 50 kW daytime, 10 kW nights.
KKOV 1550 AM Vancouver, Washington Airs America's Best Music format
KLBB 1220 AM Stillwater, Minnesota Airs both Music of Your Life and America's Best Music
KMRY 1450 AM Cedar Rapids, Iowa
KTKC 1460 AM Springhill, Louisiana
KTUC 1400 AM Tucson, Arizona
KZQX 100.3 FM Tatum, Texas
WABY 900 AM Watervliet, New York
WBNJ 91.9 FM Barnegat, New Jersey
WDDV 1320 AM Venice, Florida
WECK 1230 AM
102.9 FM
Cheektowaga, New York 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.
WEHH 1600 AM Elmira, New York Previously a trimulcast with WGGO in Salamanca (now off-air) and WOEN in Olean (now a talk radio station).
WGXI 1420 AM Plymouth, Wisconsin 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.
WHYL 960 AM Carlisle-Harrisburg, PA
WIZZ 1520 AM Greenfield, MA Daytimer; locally programmed "Great Music Memories"
WJIB 740 AM Cambridge-Boston, Massachusetts "The Memories Station", Bob Bittner, Owner
WJTN 1240 AM Jamestown, New York
WKHR 91.5 FM Cleveland, Ohio 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.
WLEC 1450 AM Sandusky, Ohio Airs Dial Global Local's The Lounge format
WLEZ-LP 100.1 FM Jackson, Mississippi
WLHC 103.1 FM Sanford, North Carolina
WMBS 590 AM Uniontown, Pennsylvania
WMNI 920 AM Columbus, Ohio Airs Dial Global's America's Best Music format
WMPX/WMRX 1490 AM/97.7 FM Midland, Michigan Airs Dial Global's America's Best Music format
WNBP 1450 AM Newburyport, Massachusetts
WOLI 910AM / 105.7FM Spartanburg, South Carolina 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 Full-time simulcast of WDDV
95.9 FM
106.9 FM
North Palm Beach, Florida
WTLO 1480 AM Somerset, Kentucky Since 1958, WTLO has stood for "We're The Local Ones" and prides itself on a live "Buy/Sell/Trade" show airing Monday through Saturday, and playing Adult Standards throughout the day.

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. Music of Your Life has been broadcasting the Adult Standards format since 1978, making it the longest running syndicated music radio network in the country.

See also[edit]