From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the iHeartMedia country music station is playing the greatest hits of the genre from the 1950s to the present, culminating in No. 1 — whatever that may be — sometime on Saturday afternoon. (Here is the list in alphabetical order.)
It’s just the kind of radio stunt that might precede some sort of format adjustment or rebranding, but insiders at the station insist there’s no change in the works. It’s all being done just for fun — and as a way to boost ratings, of course.
Lance Houston, program director and evening host at Big 95.5, said the idea was inspired by Ken Burns's eight-part, 16-hour PBS documentary series on country music last fall. “So we wanted to honor the greatest of all time," Houston said. "I feel like in today’s world, everything is about the now, now, now. And we never really pause to look back and celebrate what was great music a long time ago.”
Houston said the top 1,000 list was compiled by a 26-member “blue ribbon panel of country experts” who ranged in age from 30 to 57 and included record label executives, radio professionals, trade magazine writers and others.
Starting in mid-December, the panel ranked songs according to such factors as songwriting, artist contribution to country music history, historical and popular cultural significance of a song, sales and/or streaming data, radio airplay, and peak chart position.
For the record, No. 1,000 was “Don't Think I Don't Think About It” (2008) by Darius Rucker.
“We’re going to make Chicago radio history, and I'm really, really excited about it," Houston said. "This may never be done again."
In the last Nielsen Audio survey, Big 95.5 ranked 26th with a 1.2 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of 518,300. Its main competitor, Entercom country WUSN 99.5-FM, tied for 21st with a 1.6 share and weekly cume of 643,600. Ratings for January will be released today.
Monday's comment of the day: Dann Gire: SUPER JOCK STILL RULES!