Inside Radio’s Mike Kinosian was the AC consultant at Drake-Chenault back in the late 1970’s when I joined the firm to replace Lee Bailey as their country consultant. So, when he asked me for a comment on Bill’s death, I had the feeling that many others, including Mike himself, are better qualified to speak on Bill’s undeniable legacy which lives in so many of us. Radio-Info’s thread, “Bill Drake: The Hits Just Stopped Coming” and the Wikipedia post, already updated with his death date are just two of hundreds you’ll find if you search the terms “Bill Drake.”
I am lucky to be among the people who knew and worked with him for at least a bit, and this I can safely assert: today's popular theorem that programming is nothing but a service bureau for sales would have horrified programming purist Drake.
With PPM just around the corner, his totally-listener-driven approach, using research to grow actual minute by minute usage, employing counter-programming, forward momentum, slimming down disc jockey talk, cutting commercial loads, while exposing only the top hits, controlling everything - hiring great personalities, using powerful event-driven promotions, strict commercial policies, including the promos and musical images with a bright, hot, fast-moving sound that engaged listeners and yet also transitioned all elements together as seamlessly as possible.
PPM data is showing us how smart this approach was and is providing a renaissance of his tactics and strategies.
Bill even gave the most-played currents a rest before bringing them back to regular rotations to give burn a chance to drop and turn to high familiarity and greater acceptance.
Tracking what listeners actually do in PPM during the life of songs these days has again reminded me of how brilliant Drake was.
Bill, before you go, I need to tell you: you still live in me.
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2 months ago