America's Best Music
|America's Best Music website|
America's Best Music is the on-air branding of an adult standards 24-hour radio network, known internally as Adult Standards and formerly known as AM Only. The service is syndicated by Westwood One, a subsidiary of Cumulus Media. It was one of the original Transtar Radio Networks formats. "America's Best Music" is no longer exclusive to AM stations and is carried on some FM stations.
The target audience of the format is persons 35 to 64, with 40 percent of music from the 1960s, 30 percent from the 1970s, and 15 percent each from the 1950s and since 1980. Artists include Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, James Taylor, Elton John, Anne Murray, Andy Williams, Engelbert Humperdinck, Linda Ronstadt, Nat King Cole, Captain and Tennille, and Simon and Garfunkel. The format also incorporates "new standards" material by artists like Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, Steve Tyrell, Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, and Renee Olstead. Also, the network plays continuous Christmas music beginning in mid-December through Christmas Day each year.
In July 2015 it was announced that all the on-air personalities would be terminated as Westwood One downsized its air staff. Original morning show host Jeff Rollins and afternoon host and production director Carl Hampton were terminated as well as fellow weekday voice John Gleason, plus weekenders Pat McNulty, Wayne Yafee and Paul Worden.[not in citation given] Rollins is back on the air, hosting mornings at WOSN, Ocean-FM, in Indian River Shores, Florida.
Former DJs included Dick Heatherton, Nick Gerard, Ed Brand, Joe Daniels, Mark Haden, Rick Wagstaff, Rick Garza, Lou Simon, and Peter Doeblin. Chick Watkins, the format's former program director, was also a DJ for many years.
"AM Only" was created by Transtar Radio Networks at a time when FM had overtaken AM for listeners seeking music on the radio. The format was promoted only to AM stations, though it was not long before some FM stations used it as well.
The format was (and still is in some stations' on-air imaging) promoted on-air as "Great Songs, Great Memories". One affiliate used an ad which stated the following:
Ray Charles lives here. So does Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, The Lettermen, and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra. At WFEA we play the original hits of the 40's, 50's and 60's. All day, every day.
After a February 1987 debut with Chick Watkins as program director, "AM Only" had 157 affiliates by the end of 1993. Growth of the format was helped by new material from Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis, and artists such as Harry Connick Jr., along with movies such as Sleepless in Seattle. KJUL jumped to number 3 in the Las Vegas market, and KOY became the number 5 station in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 2000, over 240 radio stations used the adult standards format which was being distributed by this time by Westwood One.
On October 1, 2008, America's Best Music absorbed Jones Standards, a short-lived format created by the now-dissolved Jones Radio Networks, as a result of Jones's purchase by Westwood One. Many, though not all, Jones Standards affiliates switched over to America's Best Music. Westwood One's subsequent purchase of Waitt Radio Networks added a second adult standards/MOR-based format to the syndicator's portfolio in the form of "The Lounge", formerly distributed by Waitt and now discontinued.
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