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Good news for non-rock radio fans -- that 'listenable' pop music is back

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Remember when AM radio went "rock and roll crazy"? It was more than 20 years ago, and since then, that's about the only sound to be heard on most AM stations, with an occasional "beautiful music" show thrown in, ostensibly for the "old folks."

Well, there's good news not just for the grownups, but for anyone who longs for some listenable mainstream pop music that's more than an innocuous background, but definitely not rock and roll or disco.

An enterprising fellow named Al Ham a former CBS record producer and bass player with Artie Shaw's orchestra, has devised a syndicated radio format to satisfy listeners who long for the voices of Nat "King" Cole, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Rosemary Clooney, as well as the classic big band sounds of the Dorseys, the Elgarts, Count Basie, and Harry James, among others.

Entitled "Music of Your Life," Ham's programming is not just for nostalgia buffs: In addition to the Margaret Whitings and Glenn Millers, he includes artists such as Anne Murray, Tony Orlando, Barry Manilow, and even selected numbers by Elvis Presley.

The startling thing about Ham's format is its enormous and rapid growth in popularity since its inception about five years ago. In a nation where radio music programming has kowtowed primarily to the tastes of the preteen and teen crowd for as many years as anyone would care to remember, there seems to be a sudden surge of interest in Ham's brand of music, particularly from the 35 -and-up age group.

What Ham refers to as the "musically disenfranchised 35-plus demographic" is now acquiring a voice on AM radio, thanks to "Music of Your Life." Much more than just a radio program, the format allows its listeners to determine what they hear. Now syndicated to more than 65 radio stations around the US, "Music of Your Life" invites local listeners to send in their requests, which then become part of the regular format.

"So the musical content of the programming is constantly changing," says Ham.


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