A Closer Look at the Edge 102 Playlist

Radio We've been having an interesting discussion about 102.1 in the comments for this entry about Alan Cross's exit as Program Director for CFNY, now better known as Edge 102. The primary complaint is Edge 102's small playlist. They seem to play the same 12-15 songs over and over and over again.

Earlier today, I grabbed the names of every song Edge 102 had played up to that minute. By 10:30am today they had played 110 songs. I looked at each song and assigned it a label: New, Recent or Classic Alternative.

New: I labelled a song new if it was new to the playlist in 2008. The new Coldplay and Offspring songs are obviously new, but I also considered the Raconteurs' "Salute Your Salution" to be new, even though it's not exactly fresh at this point.

Recent: I created this category to cover songs that aren't exactly Classic Alternative but also aren't new. "Try Honesty" by Billy Talent is a good example of a fairly recent song that's well past its hey day.

Classic Alternative: This covers the "golden oldies" CFNY likes to play. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, U2, Beastie Boys, STP, etc.

Here are the songs with their assigned labels. After the chart, I'll hit you up with some stats.

10:25 AM"HAMMERHEAD" - OFFSPRING NEW
10:22 AM"MADE OF STONE" - SPIRAL BEACH NEW
10:15 AM"BELIEVE" - BRAVERYNEW
10:14 AM"WANDER FAR AWAY" - REBEL EMERGENCYNEW
10:11 AM"DUMB" - NIRVANA CLASSIC ALT
10:04 AM"THEM KIDS" - SAM ROBERTSNEW
9:59 AM"EVEN FLOW" - PEARL JAMCLASSIC ALT
9:55 AM"COMIN' HOME" - CITY AND COLOURRECENT
9:47 AM"PORK AND BEANS" - WEEZERNEW
9:39 AM"MONSTER HOSPITAL" - METRICRECENT
9:36 AM"MAKE IT WIT CHU" - QUEENS OF THE STONE AGENEW
9:14 AM"BEST OF YOU" - FOO FIGHTERSRECENT
9:11 AM"TESSELLATE" - TOKYO POLICE CLUBNEW
9:02 AM"HANDLEBARS" - FLOBOTSNEW
8:56 AM"SALUTE YOUR SOLUTION" - RACONTEURSNEW
8:45 AM"GOOD TIMES" - FINGER ELEVENCLASSIC ALT
8:28 AM"PLUSH" - STONE TEMPLE PILOTSCLASSIC ALT
8:11 AM"THIS RESPIRATOR" - FLATLINERSNEW
7:57 AM"VIOLET HILL" - COLDPLAYNEW
7:45 AM"RIVER BELOW" - BILLY TALENTRECENT
7:31 AM"LITHIUM" - NIRVANACLASSIC ALT
7:10 AM"HAMMERHEAD" - OFFSPRING NEW (R)
6:47 AM"NO ONE KNOWS" - QUEENS OF THE STONE AGECLASSIC ALT
6:17 AM"BELIEVE" - BRAVERY NEW (R)
6:13 AM"ONE THING" - FINGER ELEVENCLASSIC ALT
6:00 AM"PORK AND BEANS" - WEEZERNEW (R)
5:57 AM"SABOTAGE" - BEASTIE BOYSCLASSIC ALT
5:42 AM"SONG 2" - BLURCLASSIC ALT
5:39 AM"TESSELLATE" - TOKYO POLICE CLUBNEW (R)
5:27 AM"MY HERO" - FOO FIGHTERSCLASSIC ALT
5:24 AM"ALWAYS WHERE I NEED TO BE" - KOOKS NEW
5:16 AM"SOMEWHERE OUT THERE" - OUR LADY PEACECLASSIC ALT
5:13 AM"THE GOOD LEFT UNDONE" - RISE AGAINST NEW
5:05 AM"JUST" - RADIOHEADCLASSIC ALT
5:02 AM"SALUTE YOUR SOLUTION" - RACONTEURSNEW (R)
4:58 AM"UNDER THE BRIDGE" - RED HOT CHILI PEPPERSCLASSIC ALT
4:55 AM"TIME BOMB" - RANCIDCLASSIC ALT
4:51 AM"I WILL POSSESS YOUR HEART" - DEATH CAB FOR CUTIENEW (R)
4:47 AM"TRY HONESTY" - BILLY TALENTRECENT
4:44 AM"WHAT I GOT" - SUBLIMECLASSIC ALT
4:36 AM"WE'RE ALL TO BLAME" - SUM 41RECENT
4:33 AM"2 & 15/16THS" - USS NEW
4:26 AM"FIRESTARTER" - PRODIGYCLASSIC ALT
4:23 AM"THIS RESPIRATOR" - FLATLINERSNEW (R)
4:20 AM"BRAIN STEW" - GREEN DAYCLASSIC ALT
4:16 AM"TALKING TO THE WALLS" - FINGER ELEVEN NEW
4:10 AM"DISCIPLINE" - NINE INCH NAILS NEW
4:05 AM"FLY AWAY" - LENNY KRAVITZCLASSIC ALT
4:01 AM"VIOLET HILL" - COLDPLAYNEW (R)
3:56 AM"SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE" - AUDIOSLAVERECENT
3:54 AM"SONS OF HOSTAGE LIFE" - HOSTAGE LIFERECENT
3:49 AM"JEREMY" - PEARL JAMCLASSIC ALT
3:41 AM"(I HATE) EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU" - THREE DAYS GRACERECENT
3:37 AM"SLEEPING SICKNESS" - CITY AND COLOUR NEW
3:31 AM"FAINT" - LINKIN PARKRECENT
3:27 AM"HAMMERHEAD" - OFFSPRINGNEW (R)
3:24 AM"SABOTAGE" - BEASTIE BOYS CLASSIC ALT (R)
3:21 AM"MADE OF STONE" - SPIRAL BEACHNEW (R)
3:10 AM"BODYSNATCHERS" - RADIOHEAD NEW
3:06 AM"LAST NITE" - STROKESCLASSIC ALT
3:02 AM"THEM KIDS" - SAM ROBERTSNEW (R)
2:59 AM"STOP" - AGAINST ME! NEW
2:55 AM"SURRENDER" - BILLY TALENTRECENT
2:47 AM"CHAMPAGNE SUPERNOVA" - OASISCLASSIC ALT
2:39 AM"WAKE UP" - ARCADE FIRERECENT
2:37 AM"BITCHES IN TOKYO" - STARS NEW
2:29 AM"THE HAND THAT FEEDS" - NINE INCH NAILSRECENT
2:26 AM"PORK AND BEANS" - WEEZERNEW (R)
2:24 AM"TIME OF YOUR LIFE (GOOD RIDDANCE)" - GREEN DAYCLASSIC ALT
2:19 AM"OBLIVION" - WINTERSLEEP NEW
2:11 AM"BELIEVE" - BRAVERYNEW (R)
2:05 AM"BIG EMPTY" - STONE TEMPLE PILOTSCLASSIC ALT
2:02 AM"TESSELLATE" - TOKYO POLICE CLUBNEW (R)
1:59 AM"PAIN" - THREE DAYS GRACERECENT
1:55 AM"BY THE WAY" - RED HOT CHILI PEPPERSCLASSIC ALT
1:47 AM"AMERICAN WOMAN" - LENNY KRAVITZCLASSIC ALT
1:43 AM"WANDER FAR AWAY" - REBEL EMERGENCY NEW (R)
1:35 AM"MS. JACKSON" - OUTKAST CLASSIC ALT
1:32 AM"SALUTE YOUR SOLUTION" - RACONTEURSNEW (R)
1:30 AM"HANDLEBARS" - FLOBOTSNEW (R)
1:25 AM"ONE" - U2 CLASSIC ALT
1:22 AM"TO A FRIEND" - ALEXISONFIRERECENT
1:13 AM"LONG ROAD TO RUIN" - FOO FIGHTERS NEW
1:08 AM"ANEURYSM" - NIRVANA CLASSIC ALT
1:03 AM"THIS RESPIRATOR" - FLATLINERSNEW (R)
1:00 AM"STRANGE TIMES" - BLACK KEYS NEW
12:55 AM"SAYONARA" - OPERATION MD NEW
12:51 AM"NUMB/ENCORE" - JAY-Z/LINKIN PARKRECENT
12:44 AM"MAN IN THE BOX" - ALICE IN CHAINSCLASSIC ALT
12:40 AM"UNTIL WE BURN IN THE SUN (THE KIDS JUST WANT A LOVE SONG)" - BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH NEW
12:34 AM"LAST RESORT" - PAPA ROACHCLASSIC ALT
12:31 AM"VIOLET HILL" - COLDPLAYNEW (R)
12:25 AM"PRAISE YOU" - FATBOY SLIMCLASSIC ALT
12:20 AM"WHERE WE ARE" - NEVERENDING WHITE LIGHTS NEW
12:14 AM"MAKE IT WIT CHU" - QUEENS OF THE STONE AGENEW (R)
12:10 AM"RED FLAG" - BILLY TALENT RECENT
12:08 AM"HANDLEBARS" - FLOBOTSNEW (R)
12:03 AM"HAMMERHEAD" - OFFSPRINGNEW (R)

Here's what we learn from this random spot check of Edge 102's playlist.

  • # of unique new songs: 27 / 24.54%
  • # of unique recent songs: 17 / 15.45%
  • # of unique classic alternative songs: 31 / 28.18%
  • # of unique songs overall: 77 / 70%
  • # of repeated songs: 23 / 20.90%

If you're looking to hear a variety of new music, you'd likely be disappointed that less than a quarter of these 110 songs are unique new songs. Overall, however, if you're okay with older tracks, over two thirds of the songs played are different.

This does prove that the playlist is larger than 12-15 songs. 70% of the songs played were different, and when you're digging a hot new track, hearing it more often isn't so bad, is it?

Note: I'm not trying to defend Edge 102's song selection nor am I trying to trash them. I don't know anyone who currently works at CFNY personally, it's just a station I periodically enjoy even though it used to be way better. Draw your own conclusions from these metrics and please share them in the comments!


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Comments (26 - click here to join in!)

James Edgar

Well I'm the first to admit I'm wrong when i see evidence and you have evidence. So my inpression of 15 song playlists is inaccurate.

So what is the problem? I'll think about it and come back because there's someting wrong when I think Bob Mcowen is a better listen than Bookie.

June 12, 2008 @ 12:35 PM

Toronto Mike

For me, my biggest beef with 102.1 is the ads. I understand the ads pay the bills on terrestrial radio, and they've always been there and likely always will, but the constant interruption of a string of tunes by 4+ annoying ads irks me now more than ever.

This is likely because we're all so used to being our own Program Directors, shuffling our collections, creating our own playlists, and we've grown used to hearing music without ads.

Sometimes at work I'll stream 102.1 b/c I still like 80% of their playlist but I can't take all the commercial breaks.

My guess is we're less irked by ads on talk radio than we are on music stations. And McCown does put on an entertaining show...

June 12, 2008 @ 12:51 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

I think I've said all there is to say before now. When I say their playlist is 15 songs, you know I don't mean literally.

I think my main issues continue to be (a) all the music they miss/ignore that fits the format and (b) all the music they do play that really doesn't fit the format.

As for Bookie, I'm not even gonna go there.

One more thing - playing a hot song over and over - good for advertisers, but I have an iPod for that. The radio should be exposing me to more music. If it's a brand spanking hot new track, once every other hour should still be the maximum amount of times I hear it on the same station, NOT once an hour, as is the law (I think).

I credit The Edge with over-playing a myriad of songs, making them virtually unlistenable. At the same time they ignore a huge amount of the music out there.

I too could create a list - a list that features songs that fit the format that they choose to ignore. Thing is, I don't think this would accomplish much.

I've heard Canadian bands played from across the pond, ones that I don't think The Edge plays.. when the situation is reversed, the Edge ignores a ton of artists.

June 12, 2008 @ 12:52 PM

Irvine in Calgary

OK Mike. Good bit of work on your side. Here is the Top 12 at 12 from Calgary's New Rock Alternative X92.9 (X929.ca). Host Lynch. Station is owned by Harvard Broadcasting

12 - Weezer - Pork and Beans
11 - Ludo - Love Me Dead
10 - Slowcoaster - Eurotrash
9 - Foo Fighters - Let It Die
8 - City and Colour - Waiting
7 - Carolina Liar - I’m Not over
6 - Nine Inch Nails - Discipline
5 - Stills - Being Here
4 - Against Me - Stop
3 - Bravery - Believe
2 - Black Keys - Strange Times
1 - Flobots - Handlebars

A quick search and you'll see that Edge 102 isn't play 1/3 of these songs. Isn't Edge 102 the "flagship" of Canadian Alternative Radio? It's a heritage modern rocker with 30 years of history and the PD was a "music genius" to many.

Yet, a small independent FM station in Calgary manages to trump Edge and play the new rock first without the big budget consultants, etc. Hell, even Jason P, music nerd who posts here was discovered music from 92.9 in Calgary (Flobots & Daniel Wesley). Edmonton's Modern Rock, Sonic FM, has a very similiar playlist & it's far more progressive than Edge 102

This is a snap shot in time too, over the past few months I've heard Ting Tings, CSS, MGMT, etc on X92.9, but never seen any evidence of airplay on 102.1.

When I programmed my show at CJIQ FM in Kitchener, I paid an enormous amount of attention to music charts. I watched playlists of modern rockers all across North America & it was in my informed opinion that 102.1 was one of the last stations to add music unless it was a well known artist like White Stripes.

All of this is the doing of Alan Cross & Corus. The variety & selection of new music on Edge sucks. And the back catalog at 102.1 is remarkably shallow given the stations 30 year history as being one of the worlds greatest FM stations.

June 12, 2008 @ 12:58 PM

Anonymous

Oh, and we also talked about ratings and whether or not a market exists for my ideal station (it does, but anyway...). Well, wasn't one of the time periods that CFNY/Edge was making the MOST money the Marsden era? Correct if I am wrong, because I would really like to know.

I remember a CFNY we could be proud of, much like INdie 103 is now... surely during this time the ratings were just as good if not better than now.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:00 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

Above ANON was me and it looks like there's more evidence that shows what I have been ststing for years. Again, embarrasing for CFNY and Toronto.

And, yes, I am a music geek. Not a music sell-out.

It appears I add more new music to my blog in a week than The Edge adds in twice the time.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:04 PM

Toronto Mike

Irvine, that's an interesting list. I'm pretty sure CFNY hasn't played Ludo, Slowcoaster or Carolina Liar. The others I've heard on 102.1. Oh, and they play a lot of MGMT.

But, you're friggin' right about CFNY letting down their legacy. This station, The Spirit of Radio, meant something special during the Marsden years and now the variety and selection is pretty sad.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:14 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

Last 10 Played

indie 97.9 - baltimore

Ours - The Worst Things Beautiful

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Modern Mystery

French Kicks - Abandon

New Order - Regret

Shout Out Louds - You are Dreaming

The Get Up Kids - Ten Minutes

The Whigs - Sleep Sunshine

The Strokes - The Modern Age

James - Sometimes (Lester Piggott)

The Shackeltons - The Breaks


and here is indie 103's current rankings. notice that thay don't ignore the artists from across the pond, etc. like Edge does

June 12, 2008 @ 1:14 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

oh sh!t, my bad. i forgot the link

http://www.geocities.com/flashbackcenter/Rankings.html

the point of sharing is to show that there's stuff out there edge misses. period.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:19 PM

Irvine

I don't think CFNY made alot of money during the Marsden era.

I do remember circa 1986 that 102.1 had nearly a 5 share & a CUME of about 500,000. Today, the station's 12+ CUME is 3.7 and the FC CUME is 750K (approx out of my head).

CFNY in 1985: Broadcasting from Brampton, not on the CN Tower. No promotional budget. No advertising budget. Overall, a low key radio station that found its audience thru word of mouth & quality.

CFNY in 2008. CN Tower, higher power with greater reach in South Ontario. Big $$$ on advertising & promotions (once had Edge TV).

I'd argue that CFNY was more successful during the Marsden era but failed to make money because the music it played was considered "fringe" and wasn't accepted by advertisers. If you listened to CFNY in 1985, you were probably a gay vegan granola bar ;-)...at least from the standpoint of a advertiser. Irony is that in 2008, many of those fringe bands are now fodder for tired, boring retro shows that appeal to 38 year olds.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:21 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

LMFAO. Don't forget that we all must have been reefer smoking dread heads... I think I read that on someone's blog ;-)

But seriously... maybe they could consider this: That Baltimore station is HD radio and streamed online only. There are no ads. At all. Maybe the Edge could improve upon it's secondary streams, then it's a win-win for all.

is that still asking too much?

June 12, 2008 @ 1:28 PM

Irvine

A few years ago, Edge did have a bunch of secondary stations that you could stream. I'm not sure if they still have them. I remember listening & thinking these SUCK

What made CFNY work back in the day was that it had a toe in the mainstream & a toe in the indie world. If you play too many hits, people get bored. If you play all fringe product, people get bored. Try listening to Radio 3 for 12 hours & see how bad you really want to hear a "hit". I travel out west and listen to Verge on XM and grow sick of it (and XMU the Indie Channel) because it's too diverse.

CFNY needs to move left. Not too much, but some. And it needs to broaden it's "guys with guitars" mentality. The hottest Alternative music right now is Alternative Dance. Ting Tings, MGMT, CSS (two of these in Apple spots). Edge either isn't playing them or in the case of MGMT, added them WAY after the fact. In a world if "now" adding Time to Pretend 4 months after everyone else has isn't going to work. I do admit, very recently, I've noticed they are a touch more aggressive or maybe it's me just not paying so much attention to music.

The world of Alternative music should include Feist. It should include White Stripes. It should include some elements of hip hop. And it can include John Cash & Frank Sinatra

I was in Edmonton a few weeks ago and Sonic FM has a feature at 5 or 6 PM where it plays a Johnny Cash song. And they actually dig pretty into the vault. It's that one single song that makes the station stand out for the music fan.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:39 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

I agree. Some people want their heavier guitar driven rock. For a long time that is all that Edge was. Actually, it basically still is. I agree, Indie Dance has made huge waves. MGMT, CSS, Ting Tings, LCD Soundsystem, Lykke Li (sort of) and a whole bunch more... there's Chromeo from Montreal... Mike, does Edge play "Fancy Footwork" because it's CanCon for crying out loud!

I'll bet The Edge doesn't know or play The Gutter Twins either. But they might, soon. That is one hell of an album.

Another huge Indie Dance band from France is Justice. Phenomenal.

June 12, 2008 @ 1:47 PM

Irvine

If you want to follow what a station is playing (North American only) go here

http://www.radioandrecords.com/RRWebSite/Format_RoomPage.aspx?FormatID=15

scroll down, key in the stations call letters and you'll find their playlist. Good way to compare

June 12, 2008 @ 2:06 PM

Toronto Mike

That radioandrecords.com link is great fun!

June 12, 2008 @ 3:17 PM

CQ

Whether the listing is new, recent, or classic alternative - its all pretty much (IMHO) the same, very angry at you & myself, grunge led 90s sound. There's no sense of fun & sparkle - not to demand a strictly gay meaning for it.
Given its pre-Edge history, there sound be a listing that better relates to many of today's indie led music blogs with an fairly even mix from Canada, the UK, and the States.

June 12, 2008 @ 3:32 PM

CQ

Whether the listing is new, recent, or classic alternative - its all pretty much (IMHO) the same, very angry at you & myself, grunge led 90s sound. There's no sense of fun & sparkle - not to demand a strictly gay meaning for it.
Given its pre-Edge history, there should be a listing that better relates to many of today's indie led music blogs with an fairly even mix from Canada, the UK, and the States.

June 12, 2008 @ 3:33 PM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

CQ - very well said

mike - it sure as hell is i love it

also mike - it's great to promote cancon, but music really doesn't have borders, does it?

you know what they say...

music is the universal language...

June 12, 2008 @ 4:00 PM

Ajax Mike

I thought music was the food of love.

Play on.

June 12, 2008 @ 4:57 PM

Mike (Buffalo Boy)

I do think their play list is much better than the one youll find at 103.3 here in buffalo, I never ever listen to 103 because over the years and via American alternative station experiences, 103 is awful interms of its selection so if you are disappointed with 102, take a listen to 103 for even a half hour, I guarantee youll be back on 102 in no time.

June 13, 2008 @ 7:36 AM

Jason | GetYourOJ.com

Umm.. no Buffalo Boy.. I won't be returning.. because there are better alternatives out there. Yes, even American ones.

June 13, 2008 @ 10:10 AM

buk

Jason..Mike{Buffalo Boy}is real right when he speaks of 103..real sad. I started listening to CFNY in 1979 when I saw Marsden doing a remote from the Bulova Tower at the CNE. From Niagara Falls, BuffaloRadio was not even close! Now, I listen to Marsden's show on 94.9 twice a week. Real Radio still lives! By the way Irvine.. They went to the CN tower in November 83, Not 86..

June 13, 2008 @ 7:17 PM

Brian

For those close enough, 105.1 The river (Niagara Falls Canada) has a great 80s and 90s playlist for those looking to get their CFNY fix. I seem to only be able to get it from Buffalo through to Oakville, though (haven't tried in downtown TO, maybe the lake helps things?)

June 14, 2008 @ 10:57 PM

Archie

You should try listening to BBC 6Music. If you have a MAC you can download the BBC radio Widget.

I used to love CFNY. But I got fed up with hearing the same songs before leaving for work as I did when I got back.

6Music has a wide, eclectic variety ranging from new (Elbow, Bon Iver, Coldplay) to classics (Marley, Hendrix, ACDC) and Indie (Fight Like Apes, Ida Maria, Vampire Weekend)

September 5, 2008 @ 12:54 AM

Archie

… almost forgot, 6Music has no product commercials (there are self-promos, station announcements and concert listings but no ads)

It’s one of them Socialist things.

September 5, 2008 @ 12:57 AM

Big Whoppa

That's why Satellite radio is becoming the cutting edge with SIRIUS and XM also on-line stations, I do know some Satelitte stations on SIRIUS play the same artist but rarely the same song.

The only good and newer stuff you here on the EDGE is on late Fridays and Saturday from CLUB 102.

October 26, 2008 @ 3:05 PM

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