Back in ought-seven, I did a brief writeup of something called Short Attention Span System Radio, which sought to compensate for listeners wandering away by cramming twice as much music into the same space. The results were curious:
I sampled some SASS, and I think I’d notice that they’d boiled down Manfred Mann’s take on Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light,” which runs around 7:05 in its LP incarnation and 3:48 as a single, to a startling 1:45 — but it would take probably half a minute for it to sink in, and by then they’re a third of the way through the next song.
Truly revved up like a douche, as the kids used to say. I imagined there might be a place for such a format, but I couldn’t imagine where.
The answer, it turns out, is Calgary:
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.
It was a lot easier to do 24 songs an hour, I submit, when (1) songs were barely over two minutes and (2) you didn’t have to sell 15 minutes of ad space.
Still, having created what I think is the definitive two-minute edit of “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” which runs seventeen minutes if you don’t put your foot down, I’m probably the wrong person to complain about this.
Admittedly, I’ve gone the other direction as well. Once upon a time, after listening to the Gentrys’ 1965 version of “Keep On Dancing,” which came out of the studio running barely 90 seconds, prompting the producer to start the song over and run just enough of it to break the two-minute mark, I hacked up a 3:42 extended version in which I did the same thing the producer did, only twice. Amp Radio wouldn’t play it, of course, but at least they’d have an obvious place (or two) to edit it.