Written by Staff on August 10, 2023
It was a thrill to be on the other side of the glass, I was standing in the actual radio station studio as a new DJ. As part of my new DJ training the manager gave me a tour of the broadcast studio, while explaining station policies and processes. He then pointed to the wall of CDs and vinyl behind me. “See anything that interests you?” I approached the massive custom cabinet, rows of CDs, bookended by large cubbies sized for, and filled with, vinyl. Reading the side panels of the CD jewel cases, head turned at a 45 angle, I started pulling out anything that sounded familiar or interesting. Almost every CD case or cardboard sleeve had a conspicuous white sticker in one corner or another. The stickers indicated which songs were ‘FCC clean’ and designated when those songs should be slotted for airtime, ‘adds’ is the industry lingo. Many of these white stickers also had a esoteric ‘RIYL:…’ and then 3-4 other artists. Using my highly advanced skills of deduction, I inferred that the band literally in hand in of a similar sonic quality to the other bands listed.
But what could RIYL stand for? I asked the station manager to decipher it and in my mind, I am convinced he said “Rotate if you like:…”. Again, using my skills of deduction, this made perfect sense; it must be a vestige of when prerecorded music was played on air using a record player. The records would physically ‘rotate’ – that’s what the original DJs did – throw the vinyl on, cue it up, then drop the needle. A few years later I looked it up and discovered either the station manager didn’t know (unlikely), or I had misheard (likely). The ‘R’ is for Recommended, ‘recommended if you like:…’ This seems more logical.
Here at the station, we receive A LOT of music from our promotional partners. Nearly all of the physical music we receive at LCWR has that conspicuous white sticker. It is no doubt a legacy of ‘white label vinyl’. A common practice for distributors and promotors to get music out, they would send promotional vinyl to radio stations in some variation of a white label. All that promotional music is a critical means by which we keep those digital air waves full of new and interesting music. Those white labels are very helpful. (Ask our Music Manager!) The eclectic nature of so many artists with so many ideas may lead one to feel overwhelmed. That little RIYL is useful. I don’t know who gets the job of musical taste maker, associating and recommending artists & bands, but I’ve been impressed. The recommended bands aren’t clones, rather there will be aspects of overlap to discover. But exactly what a listener will find appealing between the recommended bands and this new album & artist is always an adventure to discover.
Here at the station, the goal is for our DJs to expose our listeners to creative and compelling music. Part of the mission of the LCWR is to provide a platform for rising artists and band. However our DJs will certainly share the music of any era and genre. Chances are if you are tuning into a show, you already have an interest in what the DJs are ‘rotating’ and they’ll give you some recommendations you’ll like.