Calgary radio station cuts songs in half to appeal to short attention spans
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, August 8, 2014 9:35AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 8, 2014 9:21PM EDT
At what point have you had enough of Katy Perry's latest hit? One Calgary radio station is now taking it upon itself to pinpoint that moment.
Top 40 station 90.3 Amp Radio has started to cut off the songs played on air halfway through, allowing for twice the number of songs to be played each hour in a bid to cater to their listeners' ever-shortening attention spans.
"We've got so much more choice, we've got less time (and) our attention spans are shorter," Amp Radio's Paul Kaye told CTV Calgary. "We are observing people with their iPods, playing their favourite songs and skipping them before the end because they get bored."
The station used to play about 12 songs an hour, but the new 'QuickHitz' format allows for 24 songs each hour by re-editing the tracks.
Proposal is ‘ridiculous’
But the move has drawn the ire of Canadian musician Jann Arden, who went on a Twitter tirade over the issue.
The Juno award-winner is now calling on Calgarians to boycott the station.
Arden told CTV Calgary that the proposed format is a "ridiculous" attempt by Amp to "grab ratings."
"It's a hideous concept," Arden said, adding that she believes it's an infringement of the rights of musicians and artists.
She said that while editing a song down for radio has been done for the past 50 years, artists and record labels have always been a part of the process.
But this new format is a "whole new gamut," she said.
"This is deconstructing a song; this is removing verses. This is removing content from this licenced material," Arden said.
Cutting music down to fit between 90 to 120 seconds would be a "travesty" to art, she said, with little regard for the emotional content of the song.
As well, the shortened time would not allow listeners to establish any "emotional attachment" to the music, Arden said.
She likened it to cutting a movie or book in half, or covering up half of a painting.
"Art and creativity need to be protected and this is absolutely outrageous," she said. "It's grotesque."
Arden said the entire concept is "insulting" to Amp's listeners, and encouraged angry listeners to voice their concerns on social media.
Loss of integrity
Music producer Gagan Rehill said re-editing a song could result in losing the integrity of the music.
"Any time you're taking the final master of a song, and you're editing after it's already been mastered and mixed, you lose a little bit of the quality of the song as well.”
However, one expert said while the new strategy is an unusual switch, it may give Amp Radio an edge over its competitors.
"It's a way to differentiate yourself from other (stations)," Mount Royal University communications professor Richard Sutherland said.
He noted that because the songs are in a patent-protected format, they can't be imitated.
"It really does give (Amp) a unique space in the Calgary radio spectrum," Sutherland said.
It's not the first time Amp Radio has made a controversial move when it comes to their programing.
In March, the station's 'Bank It or Burn It' campaign sparked some backlash after it burned $5,000 as part of a contest. A number of Calgarians said the money could have gone to a charity.
Amp also held a '90.3 Hour Marriage' contest this past Valentine's Day in which the station would pay for two listeners to get married and fly to Vancouver for the weekend for a Miley Cyrus concert. After the new couple returned home, they could opt for a divorce.
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Ina Sidhu and Calgary Bureau Chief Janet Dirks