Is there a name for this (old-school) radio station song modification?
December 5, 2013 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Back when radio stations were limited to AM/FM (no satellite, etc) I recall several occasions when individual stations in my area would alter a song if it suited their call letters. For example, WDRQ was referred as "the Q", and whenever they played Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" and got to the line "...or steal my daddy's cue" they'd stutter-repeat the word "cue" so it sounded like "Q-Q-Q". They would do the same with Brownsville Station's "Smoking in the Boys Room" ("the noon bell rings, you know that's my cue"). In a similar vein, whenever CKLW played "Fire" by the Pointer Sisters, in the line "I'm riding in your car, you turn on the radio" the word "radio" was replaced by the call letters "CKLW." Is there any specific industry term for this practice? (And, if it's not too chat-filter-y, did stations in your area do this with particular songs?)
posted by Oriole Adams to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know the name, but KIIS FM in LA did this in the early '00s (maybe they still even do). One I remember is in Amber's "Li-da-di (Sexual)" they had "KIIS FM is sexual" instead of "the way I feel is sexual."
posted by karbonokapi at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2013


For some reason the term "drop-in" rings a bell.

Found some discussion here.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:06 PM on December 5, 2013


Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me) is a tune that had custom versions for both Top 40 stations in Chicago -- WLS: Life is a Rock (But WLS Rolled Me) and WCFL: Life is a Rock (But 'CFL Rolled Me).

This thread (or this one, or this one) should have pointers to other tunes like this.

This article about "Pop Tops" may be interesting, too.
posted by orthicon halo at 1:07 PM on December 5, 2013


There are definitely lots of recent examples of this - in Lady Gaga's "You and I" some local radio stations changed "Nebraska" to "Washington". They did the same thing in "Good Life" by One Republic. I know I've heard that same sort of substitution with the call sign taking the place of the word "radio", especially on WMZQ (our main country station).
posted by brilliantine at 1:11 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not that old-school -- I mean, it's been around awhile, but given the propensity of country artists to write songs about riding around in their pickup trucks listening to the radio, this still happens a lot on country radio now.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:16 PM on December 5, 2013


KHJ in LA would say the call letters after "you turn on the radio" when "Fire" played.
posted by brujita at 1:19 PM on December 5, 2013


Katy Perry's "Roar" has the LSU chant behind the chorus in Louisiana
posted by spunweb at 1:19 PM on December 5, 2013


I just heard a country song that did this last week. I seem to remember reading about this as a promotion record labels offered to encourage songs to be played--I think a member of a band was talking about it-- but I'm no expert.

WDRQ? CKLW? Hello, neighbor in both time and space.
posted by not that girl at 1:30 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Harry Chapin's "WOLD" may have been modified for radio, he definitely did it live.
posted by Gungho at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2013


Not sure what it was called but I remember in the late '90s or early 2000's listening to Don Bleu on the radio, and during Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much" instead of "Brad Pitt" she'd say "Don Bleu"
posted by radioamy at 1:34 PM on December 5, 2013


I listened to contemporary Christian music growing up in the 80's/90's and I remember there was one song on Dallas station KLTY where they did this. As I recall, the song ended with a climactic, harmonious "shiiiiiiiiine yooooouuuuur liiiiiiiiiiight" to which was added "with KLTY!" Thus a plea to do good deeds in the name of Jesus was turned into a call to crank the radio up.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:55 PM on December 5, 2013


Ah, it was Newsong's "Light Your World" (aka Liiiiiiiiiiiiight Yoooooooooooour Wooooooooorld!") The song came out in 1989, so that's when it would have been in heavy rotation. The call letters were inserted at about 4:37.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:35 PM on December 5, 2013


I remember hearing airchecks of 3AK in Australia from back in the '70s where they would 'walk up' the intro of a popular song with some studio singers singing the call letters to the tune of the music - Neil Diamond's 'Song Sung Blue' was a memorable one.
posted by DandyRandy at 3:05 PM on December 5, 2013


This might not be what you were looking for, but it might be of interest?
posted by pxe2000 at 3:07 PM on December 5, 2013


I remember hearing airchecks of 3AK in Australia from back in the '70s where they would 'walk up' the intro of a popular song with some studio singers singing the call letters to the tune of the music - Neil Diamond's 'Song Sung Blue' was a memorable one.

There are stations here in the US that are doing it again.

It throws me off every time I hear one.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2013


In the 80's my local radio station did this with Starship's "We Built This City", during the radio-DJ part.
posted by Wild_Eep at 5:18 PM on December 5, 2013


A lot of these changes were not made by the radio stations, but they were released to them in special promo versions done by the artists themselves. "Fire" was one of those. Back then in Seattle we had a few top-40 stations, including KJR 950 and KING-AM 1100 (actually 1090). We got to hear two variations of "Fire" -- "you turn on K J R!" and "you turn on eleven KING".

My mom told me that when she was in high school there was a song that did this -- "High School U.S.A." by Tommy Facenda. The high schools mentioned in the song were different depending on which regional version you heard.

One I remember is Billy Idol's "Hot in the City." When he shouts "New York!" in the song, it was "Seattle!" in the version that KJET used to play.
posted by litlnemo at 6:16 PM on December 5, 2013


Like radioamy, one of the local stations here replaced "Brad Pitt" with the name of the most prominent DJ at the station. This was most likely in Shania Twain's voice and probably from a call in interview or interview while she was in town for a concert. I imagine this happened in stations all over the country as there is no music behind that part of the song so it is easy to dub.
posted by Yorrick at 10:18 PM on December 5, 2013


Wild_Eep: "In the 80's my local radio station did this with Starship's "We Built This City", during the radio-DJ part."

Z95 or B96 in Chicago did this with "We Built This City" too. And Chicago stations also played a version of Billy Idol's "Hot In The City" with "Chicago!" instead of "New York!"
posted by SisterHavana at 10:31 PM on December 5, 2013


There was a cover of "Dirty Water" by the Inmates in the early 80s and I remember hearing that they'd recorded localized versions for a whole bunch of cities. Not sure if it was released that way to the public or if the extra versions were only made available to DJs.
posted by bink at 1:04 AM on December 6, 2013


If it's done at the start of a song, it's generally called a 'power intro.' That's where either the original artist or a soundalike will say or sing the station name, in the style of the song, before the song begins. Companies that make radio jingles and imaging produce them for lots of similar formatted stations at once - like most imaging and production elements, they generally aren't made by the radio station itself.

As for edits during songs - here in the UK, our radio stations have names rather than call signs. Popular stations include Capital, Kiss, Magic, Heart, Real, Smooth - which are common words you are likely to hear in songs. There have been cases of the rival station's name being edited out of a song if it appears too prominently. Conversely, I remember Born This Way by Lady Gaga having the lyric "..capital H-I-M" changed to "Capital F-M" on that particular station. It's pretty rare, though.

Hope this is useful anyway - I'd dig out some links and examples, but I'm at work so can't go surfing, sadly!
posted by winterhill at 4:29 AM on December 6, 2013


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