Why I Love Top 40 Radio

A few weeks ago, a story in the Daily O’Collegian addressed Oklahoma State’s campus radio station, KXZY, where I work. During my interview with the story writer, I was asked why people would like KXZY over commercial radio, and this is what I said.

“It’s more than the repetitive, annoying Top 40 radio we deal with.”

OK, so maybe I was bashing the CHR radio genre a bit, but I was trying to make a point about KXZY, not hate on commercial radio. My point was that KXZY offered a difference for people who were tired of CHR and wanted something more local, more underground and more, well, diverse.

But I don’t hate Top 40 radio. In fact, I love it.

I will admit that I do enjoy the pop genre, so the music that is played on Top 40 radio is not that bad to me. It’s where some of our best musicians have become famous. Madonna, Adele, The Shins, you name it. Many artists only get notoriety because they’ve been played on a CHR radio station. I want to know how many Adele fans today would have known about her without getting airplay.

I’m not saying I love every song on there, however. In a 1-hour block, maybe I will hear 3-5 songs that I actually really life. The rest? Meh. I could do without. But realistically, people discover new music mainly through Top 40 Radio, because it’s what drives pop culture. You’ve got film, you’ve got social media, but you also have CHR putting artists out there for you to judge and like or dislike all you want.

So, in reference to those who think that Top 40 radio is annoying, repetitive and awful, I challenge you to think about what pop culture would be like today without it. Some might argue that people’s music tastes would be more individualized and diverse due to people seeking out their own music, but there would still be a common body of music floating around for people to base their tastes from. Top 40 radio is inevitable, and while it might not be ideal, or as good as it can be, it’s not the worst thing in the world. See: MTV.

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