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Adult standards is a North American radio format heard primarily on AM or class A FM stations.

Adult standards (also sometimes known as the nostalgia format) is aimed at "mature" adults, meaning mainly those persons over 50 years of age, but it is mostly targeted for senior citizens. It is primarily on AM because market research reveals that only persons in that age group listen to music on AM in sizable numbers. Adult standards first became a popular format in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a way to reach mature adults who came of age before the rock era but were perhaps too mature for adult contemporary radio or too young for beautiful music. A typical adult standards playlist includes big band music, particularly from the 1940s and 1950s, popular music standards by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and some "easy listening" numbers from Roger Whittaker and others. Younger artists who record in a similar style, such as Harry Connick, Jr. or Diana Krall, may be played as well; some stations will occasionally include former old-time radio series programs such as Fibber McGee & Molly or I Love a Mystery as a change of pace. Many adult standards stations air When Radio Was, a daily old-time radio retrospective currently hosted by Greg Bell.

At one time there were several hundred such stations; today, because of changing demographics and the passing of many long-time loyal listeners, there are probably only about 200. Many of those stations that do remain have attempted to update their sound to appeal to younger listeners by moving away from big-band music and other pre-1960 material and into soft adult contemporary territory.


National satellite radio formats

Only about a handful of adult standards stations today are live and locally programmed around-the-clock. Many have affiliated with nationally distributed satellite formats to cut costs; due to advertiser perceptions about the audiences these stations primarily target, a large number of adult standards stations have trouble selling airtime to advertisers, which makes them unprofitable. For example, KIXI 880 AM, serving the Seattle market and KKIN 930 AM partway, terminated its local airstaff to affiliate with the Music of Your Life network. Many others have simply dumped the format altogether, often for all-talk or all-sports formats, oldies, or other formats deemed more profitable than standards by management.

Music of Your Life was an adult standards satellite-delivered format that probably more than any other source currently defined the format. Music of Your Life, which was founded by Al Ham in 1978 and boasts a roster of well-known personalities including Deana Martin, Peter Marshall and weekend host Pat Boone, was distributed by Jones Radio Networks. A dispute between the Music of Your Life CEO and former PD and host Chcuk Southcott along with former jocks Wink Martindale and Gary Owens (among others) over lack of payment led to Owens, Martindale and company splitting off and Jones ultimately deciding to abandon the format at the end of 2007 and introduce a new format of its own (since merged into the Dial Global format). Music of Your Life is still distributed independently. Los Angeles radio legend Johnny Magnus rejoined the format in 2008.

Dial Global (formerly part of Westwood One) and ABC Radio also have adult standards formats distributed via satellite; Dial Global's is called "Adult Standards" (known on-air as "America's Best Music"), and ABC's was Stardust/Timeless Classics (now known as "Timeless"). Stardust/Timeless Classics was consolidated with a soft oldies/AC network owned by ABC—Unforgettable Favorites/Memories—in 2006. Westwood One originally called its format AM Only and for a time, as the name suggests, offered the format only to AM stations; today, a handful of FM stations also air Westwood One's format.

While Music of Your Life has not eliminated all of the big-band and traditional pop music from its playlist, Westwood One and ABC dropped much of the older music in favor of softer pop and rock oldies from the 1960s and 1970s top 40 era and a good deal of soft AC material as well. Under Dial Global, some of the older-style songs are making a comeback on the Westwood One format.

Clear Channel Communications' Format Lab also features at least two adult standards formats.

Satellite radio

Moving into the 21st Century, adult standards have been given a lift as a format by new media, such as:

  • Sirius XM Channel 4, The 40s on 4, programmed by legendary music format programmer Marlin Taylor.
  • Sirius XM Channel 5, The 50s on 5, playing some older pre rock and roll era music along with some newer rock and roll hits from the late 1950s and early 1960s.
  • Sirius 75 and XM 73, Siriusly Sinatra (formerly entitled Standard Time before February 2007)

Internet radio

Internet radio stations have given loyal lovers of standards and nostalgia more listening options than perhaps any other medium as the 21st Century unfolds. Advantages include more independent style programming geared for a worldwide audience. Some Internet radio station blend in classic vocal music from Europe and Latin America. Programming venues vary from singular independently programmed stations on stand-a-lone websites, to entire groups of independently programmed stations grouped together under a format heading. Some of the latest stations include Sweet Memories Radio, some of the most popular services include, Pandora, iTunes and other web radio media.

Adult standards artists

Artists typically heard on adult standards radio stations may include the following:

Adult standards terrestrial stations

Some noteworthy terrestrial (AM & FM land-based) radio stations featuring the adult standards format today include:

Adult standards satellite and Internet radio stations

Some noteworthy satellite and Internet radio stations featuring the adult standards format today include:

Satellite radio (US)

Internet radio (worldwide)

See also

External links

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