Certainly one of the most recognizable images in the history of radio is the ubiquitous RCS Rainbow Screen – the gateway into Selector. And while Program Directors today enjoy the stability of version 12.53j, which includes a bevy of options they can customize to their station’s needs, we rarely stop to consider what the world was like before computerized music scheduling.
The man who may be most responsible for the way that music stations have evolved over the past 3+ decades is Dr. Andy Economos who launched his company, Radio Computing Services, in 1979. Long before there was a PC (let alone two) on every desk in radio, Selector became ubiquitous in radio. The service took root quickly, rewarding stations that invested in the new technology with higher ratings and a distinct advantage over their competitors.
Before Selector, boxes filled with 3×5 cards representing each song, sequence sheets, and jocks arranging their music using category systems was the way that music was presented on the radio. Suffice it to say, there was very little accountability, poor archiving and tracking, not to mention songs that somehow “disappeared” from the box because they weren’t popular in the air studio.
Selector came along, and music radio has never been the same. In some ways, the Selector wasn’t just about the introduction of music scheduling for radio – it was the gateway for computers at many stations. For today’s edition of Innovation Friday, we asked Andy to share his recollections of developing the program that revolutionized radio and became the industry standard.