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In search of Charlotte's Summer Song 2003

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The songs you pick will date you, as surely as your senior high school yearbook picture does. I'm talking about the great songs of summer, when school is out, you're at the beach or hanging in a parking lot after dark, or showing up at the best weekend party where parents aren't. Too bad we've graduated to working all the time, not enough time at the beach, and having to bring a covered dish to the best weekend party where most people are parents.

Nonetheless, my theory of a classic summer song is that tune that makes you remember where you were and who you were with, most likely at a vacation spot: the song the top 40 radio station played. It night have been the one everyone was dancing to, like the time a college pal of mine jumped off a stage at the Afterdeck Bar in Myrtle Beach in a fit of drunken excitement to "Rock Lobster" and broke his ankle. It also might have been a makeout song. Fill in your own blanks, and RIP, Barry White.

I checked in with several radio know-it-alls around Charlotte to see what they consider the 2003 summer song, and no one agreed, which just proves my point: niche radio is here to stay.

Boogie D, program director, WCHH-FM, 92.7: "There's a lot of songs out there by Sean Paul, Bonecrusher, and 50 Cent, but I'd have to say that Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boyz' "Get Low' is the one we're getting asked for the most right now."

Jack Daniel, 106.5 The End "I'm going with "Stupid Girl' by Cold. I've never had so many phones for one tune as I've had for that one."

John Reynolds, operations manager, KISS 95.1: "We get a lot of requests, but I think that "In the Club' by 50 Cent is the big one. It's the song pretty much everyone knows this summer."

Neal Sharpe, program director, 107.9 the Link: "THE summer song this year at the Link is "Drift Away' by Uncle Kracker and Dobie Gray."

Mr. Bill, DJ, WRFX-FM: "From the Fox listeners' perspective, the song of the summer so far is the Lynyrd Skynard Band's "Red White and Blue.' It rocks, it has a message folks relate to, and unlike most of the tunes out there, it's positive."

Personally, my favorite summer tunes are Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime," and War's "Low Rider." I'm old (old) school and those songs can help me get a sunburn in December.

Pam Stone's the new midday host on WLNK-FM, as the station narrows its focus by trading off music for more talk targeted at female demographics. That's the same ground already being trod by Bob and Sheri in the morning, and Matt and Ramona in the afternoon.This is typically what male-oriented stations (like brother station WBT-AM down the hall from the Link) have been doing for years, but perhaps someone's finally discovering the majority of the population as a listener base. Go figure.

Stone's a stand-up comic and perhaps best known for a stint on the ABC sitcom Coach. This is her first radio gig, and past guest appearances on the station spurred honchos to create a show for her. Don't count on much Charlotte-area flavor, but more generic talk and humor, as Stone is broadcasting from a specially built studio on her South Carolina horse farm. Let me know what you think of this new show by dropping me an e-mail.

Now that WTVI has announced the cancellation of its two public affairs shows, Final Edition and Charlotte Tonight, after county budget cuts, the question is whether any other broadcasters will pick up the slack. My guess? Don't hold your breath.Commercial television stations are no longer required by the FCC to produce public affairs shows, and even when they did, they did a pretty poor job of it. Those shows were relegated to crappy time periods on weekends, and sales department types whined about how they could get more viewers for an infomercial than local talking heads. . .talking.

Through my rose-colored TV specs, I've always wanted the creative minds to do a better job of making these shows must-see TV programs, whether local Crossfire-style shows or well-done town meetings, on a recurring basis.

Truth be told, "Charlotte Tonight" was a much better program than "Final Edition," but at least you were hearing about local issues, albeit within a limited framework of opinions, without the filter of a government-run Government Channel on cable.

A flicker of hope is that News 14 Carolina has some interest in keeping public affairs show alive. News Director Jim Newman says, "We're not sure where we'd put it or how we'd do it but we're considering it."

Stay tuned, and remember what Katherine Hepburn said: "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun."Shannon Reichley is the executive producer of Major League Remodel on the DIY cable network this month, and former news manager at WBTV. E-mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com.

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