Another Perspective: Top 20s from Three Modern Rock Stations in 1984

Facing imminent bankruptcy, KROQ signed off the air in 1974 after the entire staff walked out after their paychecks had bounced. Again. The last song played was Elton John's "Funeral For A Friend". The FCC ordered the station's owners to return to the airwaves or forfeit their broadcasting licenses. Shadoe Stevens, one of the staffers who had walked out, was brought back as programming consultant/on-air personality and KROQ returned to the airwaves in 1976, playing a unique mix of contemporary rock and the new punk stuff. Rodney Bingenheimer soon came onboard and began playing local bands as well as many other bands that were not getting airplay on any other stations in the second largest radio market in the country. Shadoe departed again and management brought in Rick Carroll as program director in 1979 just as the New Wave began to rise. Carroll applied the Top 40 segmented format to the new music and a magic formula was created. Soon the station became the most powerful and influential station in all the land. Rick Carroll took a victory lap up and down the West Coast, spreading his Rock of the 80s formula to other stations.

In 1983, Carroll landed at 91X, a Mexican album-oriented rock (AOR) station serving the San Diego market, with American DJs commuting across the border for their shifts. On January 11, 1983, 91X played "Stairway To Heaven" and then announced on-air "This is 91X - Rock of the 80s and this is "Sex" from Berlin" and everyone in the studio at the time hated the weird, slow song they were hearing until someone noticed it was a twelve-inch 45rpm record being played at 33 1/3!

Meanwhile, more than a thousand miles away in the Midwest, 97.7 WOXY reportedly became only the sixth station in the nation to switch to the Modern Rock format in 1983, announcing the change to their Cincinnati/Dayton market by playing U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and the tagline "97X, Bam! The future of rock and roll!"
In 1984, all three stations aired year-end, listener-voted countdowns and the Top 20 from each station is included in the chart below with songs listed alphabetically by title. Of the forty-five different songs, only four appeared on all three lists:

14All Cried OutAlsion Moyet
13Blasphemous RumorsDepeche Mode
1819Blue JeanDavid Bowie
13Cow PunkScott Goddard
13Cruel SummerBananarama
17DazzleSiouxsie and the Banshees
5Erotic CityPrince
19Flesh For FantasyBilly Idol
8Girls Just Wanna Have FunCyndi Lauper
18Heaven Is WaitingDanse Society
14Heaven Knows I'm Miserable NowThe Smiths
11Here Comes The Rain AgainEurythmics
1017Hold Me NowThompson Twins
7I Love You, SuzanneLou Reed
99I Send A MessageINXS
7LadykillerThe Vandals
14Less Cities, More Moving PeopleThe Fixx
3Let's Go CrazyPrince
15Like to Get to Know You WellHoward Jones
17Love ResurrectionAlison Moyet
165Master and ServantDepeche Mode
19Original SinINXS
121120People Are PeopleDepeche Mode
322Pride (In the Name of Love)U2
8Rebel YellBilly Idol
185RelaxFrankie Goes To Hollywood
4Seven SeasEcho and the Bunnymen
15Sexcrime 1984Eurythmics
12Shake Dog ShakeThe Cure
16Swimming HorsesSiouxsie and the Banshees
15Take Me With UPrince
21TendernessGeneral Public
6The GapThompson Twins
9The Killing MoonEcho and the Bunnymen
34The Wild BoysDuran Duran
6161Two TribesFrankie Goes To Hollywood
10Union Of The SnakeDuran Duran
207Wake Me Up Before You Go-GoWham!
11West End GirlsPet Shop Boys
10What is LoveHoward Jones
18What's Gone WrongThe Untouchables
4Why?Bronski Beat
20Wild LifeBananarama
6Wind OutR.E.M.
12Wood BeezScritti Politti
106.7 KROQ - Los Angeles, CA
91.1 XETRA - Tijuana, MX / San Diego, CA
97.7 WOXY - Oxford, OH

this post wouldn't be possible without:
The way I read it, they started with the announcement coming out of "Stairway To Heaven" straight up at the top at the 1 position then played "Sex", "London Calling" (the next song marked 6) and "Pass The Dutchie" in that order clockwise around the diagram, first playing all the songs marked with a 6 for the 6PM hour then all the songs marked 7 for 7PM and so on. Every slice of the pie represents 4 minutes of airtime, more or less. Of course, there is a corresponding playlist.

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