Specialty radio stations are not a new idea. There are all news stations, stations that play a single type of music exclusively -- classic rock, urban, country, soft rock, classical, et al -- others that specialize in talk radio. But KXPZ, 99.5 FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico has a new spin on their dial. All Barry Manilow. All the time. I'm not making this up.
In case you're thinking there might be a dearth of material for KXPZ -- Barry 99 -- to work with, you'd be wrong. The longtime popper and ex-jingle writer ("Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm is There," and "I Am Stuck on Band-Aid and Band-Aid Is Stuck on Me" were two of his early hits) has put out 44 albums over a career that spans well over 30 years. Manilow -- whose recent musical career is starting to look a lot like that of fellow septuagenarianian rocker Rod Stewart (they're even kinda starting to look alike) -- has delivered albums that satisfy every part of his fanbase. Recent releases have included The Greatest Songs of the Fifties (2006), Ultimate Manilow (2002), The Essential Barry Manilow (2005), and so many permutations on the "live" theme that the mind boggles. It reels.
And what of naysayers who suggest this is all a big attempt for KXPZ -- a former Christian station -- to get attention? And that, just maybe, before very long, the little station that would will go to some other format, some new flavor of the week? It's even been suggested that this whole bold and glorious move might just be a lame attempt to gain publicity. It's possible, after all, that the naysayers are right. But, if they are, it's working.