Changes to the SN chart
You’ll recall one of our evergreen favorites around here when things get slow is the deeply flawed world of gospel music radio and the even more deeply flawed system for charting “hit” songs (just search “radio” in the archives for more on all this). The upshot is, of course, that “chart-topping” songs in southern gospel tend to reflect the songs whose promoters give away the best schwag or talk the best schpiel to charting stations but not much else. And just about the time I got tired enough of that tedious Young Harmony discussion thread to shut it down, along comes one of our correspondents in the field to note impending changes to the Singing News radio charting system. So now we have something new to discuss. Woohoo.
It appears the “Singing News” is finally trying to do something about their obsolete charting system.
The station I work for recently received a letter stating that we would no longer be a charting station. It’ll be interesting to see if we still get the service [from radio promoters] we have received in the past.
The letter from SN states that they are now allowing 75 stations to chart. The last time I had knowledge of a number (several years ago), it was somewhere north of 200. The letter speaks of a new “Chart Advisory Committee,” made up of the usual record company people, radio promoters and Ken Kirksey and Les Butler of SN. (Funny, Rick Hendrix isn’t on the “Committee”.)
The letter also states that charting stations are apportioned by state, based on the number of SG concerts and SN subscribers in each state.
I’ll leave it to others who know and care more about All Things Radio to comment on this substantively, but my initial (cynical) reaction is that this seems like a solution whose primary purpose is to justify a sufficiently vague rationale by which the SN can cut stations whose chart report was an obvious sham and do so without coming right out and saying as much. This all seems well-intentioned enough, and it will doubtless buy the SN some political cover from critics (like me) who have been howling about how the magazine needs to do something about its charting system. And of course, it’s better than the nothing that’s been done for so long. But these kinds of bureaucratic half-measures can’t do much about eliminating (the appearance of) radio promoters’ payola until or unless there’s an empirically sound, technologically verifiable way to connect chart position to airplay and spins. Or am I missing something?
Update: so on my way home from the grocery store it occurred to me to wonder: will concentrating charting stations in areas where SN readership and sg concerts are more prevalent end up privileging rural areas, and so continue to widen the gap between mainstream gospel in rural, non-metropolitan areas and the suburbanized gospel stratosphere of Gaither, EHSSQ et al? I don’t know that this is good or bad per se, just an observation.Email this Post