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One of the interesting things about playing 80s pop is that while most of today’s listeners grew up with this music when it was first on the charts, several things make a countdown of the biggest hits at the time different from a countdown of the biggest hits today from the same year.

Although generally teenagers and young adults are the ones requesting songs from radio stations and purchasing singles at the record stores, older listeners can still influence the charts. As one example, the last record my grandmother ever bought was “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis. She was approaching 70 at the time. My uncle who was in his 30s in the 80s, was also purchasing albums such as the “Do They Know It’s Christmas” maxi-single, Madonna’s “Who’s That Girl” soundtrack, and Vanity 6’s LP.

These age groups aren’t necessarily fans of 1980s music but found songs they liked released in the decade and pushed them up the charts alongside the songs liked by the teenagers and 20-somethings of the era. You’ll have Joan Jett, Tone Loc, and Motley Crue alongside Barbara Streisand, Andy Gibb, and Barry Manilow.

Today, the older generations have mostly passed on or are focused on the music of their youth, leaving the listeners of 80s radio to be those earlier-mentioned teens and 20-somethings of the 80s. Even tweens and kids from the 80s may find appeal in this music if they had an older brother or sister who played the local top 40 station all the time during the decade.

Another complication in playing “the most popular songs” is the persistent rumor that the charts may have been, at times, “less than honest.”

Some of this could have been accidental, such as a radio station Music Director just guessing at how many requests a song has gotten over the past week or a record store owner estimating how many copies of a single he has sold.

Unfortunately there may have been more deliberate subversion, including radio stations being asked by a label to report airing a song even if they didn’t play it or a record store because of personal biases not wanting to report sales of a specific artist or genre.

It has even been suggested that money may have, at one point or another, exchanged hands with chart makers to make sure a particular song hit a particular peak on a particular chart.

A final complication is the aging of tastes. This is a complicated enough topic I could write an entire article just on it!

In some cases, we’ve just heard a great song way, way too many times over the past 40 years. Maybe the message of the song rang true to our teenage hearts, but as a 40 or 50-something year old, it no longer affects us the same way. Maybe a musical style was unique and fresh at the time of release, but we’ve heard so many people do the style and do it better or expand on the style that what sounded hot at the time no longer impresses us.

On the flip side, a song that we may not have liked at the time may now bring back good memories, or our musical tastes may have broadened to include more and varied styles.

I know for me growing up if it didn’t have a beat I didn’t want to hear it. Today I really love a lot of the slow songs and mellow ballads from the decade when back then I would have consistently shut them off. (A lot of those love songs took on deeper meanings after hormones kicked in, too!)

So, how does BlackLight Radio know what 1980s songs to play and which ones to toss? The answer is simple: we ask you!

We have a music advisory board, made up of listeners just like you and me, folks who grew up in the 1980s and love this decade of music. Every week we have them listen to nine songs from the 80s and tell us if they want to hear the song regularly on BlackLight Radio. If the majority of the advisory board wants to hear it, we put the song in hot rotation. If the majority say they don’t want to hear it frequently, we move it to a light rotation where you’ll rarely hear it.

The result is a radio station that is fine-tuned to you and your favorite 1980s songs. We still have plenty of songs waiting for us to go through, but BlackLight Radio already sounds dramatically different (and dramatically better) than it did a year ago. Every week the playlist gets just a little bit better as fans just like you help us decide what songs to play and which songs to toss.

I think a lot of things make BlackLight Radio special: we play the songs at the speed the radio stations used to play them at, the songs are segued in such a way that they rarely fade, the announcements have lots of special effects, and we play audio clips from movies we all went to see at the cinema in the 1980s.

Being able to find out what songs you want to hear… not just guessing based on my personal preference, and not just following the charts from the era, and CERTAINLY not following what broadcast radio is playing, is our secret weapon. It is the magic ingredient that makes BlackLight Radio better than any other 80s radio station in existence, on or off the web.

(If you’d like to join the BlackLight Radio Music Advisory Board, please contact me for details on how you can help shape our music library!)

Posted by Gene
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For those unaware, BlackLight Radio has returned, streaming the 80s greatest hits 24/7/365. (You can click the play button to the right –> to listen to us. Since our last go-round, there have been a few (positive) changes I wanted to share.

First, we are commercial free. We tried to go with an advertising agency to generate income to pay for our licensing, but there was never any way to get financially ahead of the bills. We are working on some new in-house ideas for (minimal) advertising that should pay for our licensing, and perhaps generate some income off of the website to help pay for our licensing fees as well.

Second, you’ll notice on many media players, web pages, and apps that you now see the album title. I don’t know of any other internet radio station offering this information embedded in their stream, but we thought it would be helpful for you as you expand your 80s music collection. To help you read the stream: “Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (’83) [Thriller]” translates to Michael Jackson is the singer, the song in Billie Jean, the song was a hit in 1983, and it is from the album Thriller. You could also say it as “ARTIST – SONG (YEAR) [ALBUM].” I hope this enhances your enjoyment of the music on BlackLight Radio!

Third, we’ve added ourselves to numerous websites and apps to improve accessibility and discovery. A partial but incomplete list of sites we’ve recently added ourselves to include Opti Radio, vTuner, Radio.net, Nobex, Music Goal, Streema, StreamFinder.com, and RadioGuide.FM. If your favorite site or smartphone app isn’t listed here, let us know and we’ll get in touch with them and try to get our stream added!

Fourth, with the addition of so many site listings, we’ve upgraded our servers. We can now handle 9,999 listeners at the same time… so stream all you want, we’ll make more! Our servers are located in Canada and are pulling in listeners from around the world… listeners have to tuned in to BlackLight radio from over 60 countries around the world, including Germany, Columbia, Argentina, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Hungary, and Japan! The BlackLight is ON, world-wide.

Fifth, and I’m very excited about this, we’ve started our long-promised BlackLight Radio Listener Advisory Board. Every week I send the board members nine songs from the 80s. They tell me if they like or dislike the song, and I make adjustments to our playlist every week. Over time the Listener Advisory Board will end up making significant positive changes to the music rotations on BLackLight Radio. If a song is voted down it doesn’t go completely away but it will be played less often… and if a song is voted up, it’s played more often. It means that with every week that goes by you should hear more of your favorites more of the time. If you’re a regular listener to BlackLight Radio and would like to be a member of the BlackLight Radio Listener Advisory Board, just send me an email at Inbox@BlackLightRadio.com letting me know. It’s free! I’d love your input on the songs we play.

There are many wonderful things on the way, but I think this is enough for now. Keep watching this space for updates! Join us on Facebook for lots of fun 80s content, and of course listen long, loud and proud to BlackLight Radio!!!

Posted by Gene
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INGLEWOOD, CA – OCTOBER 10: Tom Petty of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers performs onstage at The Forum on October 10, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images)

(Via TMZ)

Tom Petty was rushed to the hospital Sunday night after he was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest … law enforcement sources tell TMZ.

EMTs rushed to his Malibu home and were able to get a pulse. He was rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and our sources say he was put on life support.

Sources tell us at 10:30 Monday morning a chaplain was called to Tom’s hospital room. We’re told the family has a do not resuscitate order on Tom.

We’re told after Petty got to the hospital he had no brain activity and a decision was made to pull life support.

In tribute to Tom Petty, BlackLight Radio is airing an hour of his 80s hits at 4pm central time.

Petty was born in Gainesville, FL, on Oct. 20, 1950. Despite his easy-going, affable persona, Petty endured a rough childhood, living in poverty with an alcoholic, abusive father and a mother who was in fear of her husband. But a childhood handshake with Elvis Presley in the ’50s piqued his interest in rock n’ roll, and at the age of 17, inspired by the Beatles and the Byrds, Petty dropped out of high school to play rock with his band, Mudcrutch. After that band broke up, Petty and several of its members formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which catapulted him to the forefront of rock music for the next 40 years.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ self-titled album dropped in 1976, and although it would eventually go Gold and produce two classic rock radio staples with the singles “Breakdown” and “American Girl,” the album (and those singles) weren’t big hits upon initial release (“Breakdown” would later peak at No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 after being re-released). 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It! fared slightly better commercially, but it was the band’s third album, 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes!, that found Petty break through to massive success. That No. 2-peaking, triple Platinum album produced two top 20 hits with “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

While new wave and synth-pop took hold in the ’80s, Petty stuck to his no-frills heartland rock style while still appealing to a young fan base. Platinum albums, massive tours and hit singles (including the No. 3-peaking duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Stevie Nicks) followed, and he began to branch out creatively from the Hearbreakers as the decade came to a close.

After joining George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in the supergroup-to-end-all-supergroups Traveling Wilburys – whose 1988 debut hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200 – Petty continued to work with Lynne on his solo debut, 1989’s Full Moon Fever. It would prove to be his most blockbuster release since Damn the Torpedoes! a decade earlier, going five-times Platinum, hitting No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and producing arguable his best-known song, the inescapable “Free Fallin’,” a No. 7 Hot 100 hit. Within the space of two years, Petty followed his runaway hit solo LP with another Traveling Wilburys album as well as a new Heartbreakers album. Barely slowing his pace throughout the next three decades, Petty continued releasing albums, whether with the Heartbreakers, solo or Mudcrutch.

“We ain’t no punk band, we ain’t folk rock, jazz rock, or any of that bull… Just rock, and we don’t put no other name on it than that. We’d be stupid if we did,” he told Rolling Stone in the ’70s of his style, which — despite his knack for inventive songcraft — would stay largely the same throughout his career.

A staunch advocate for artists controlling their careers, Petty wasn’t afraid to speak out against the music industry, even if he was far more forgiving when it came to other creators. “I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there,” Petty told Rolling Stone in 2006 when asked about perceived similarities between a Red Hot Chili Peppers song and his hit “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” “And a lot of rock n’ roll songs sound alike. Ask Chuck Berry…. I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”

Petty just wrapped a huge tour, ending at the Hollywood Bowl late last Monday.

Posted by Gene
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