Satellite Music Network
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Satellite Music Network
Satellite Music Network
TypeRadio network
United States
Key people
John Tyler, Bob Leonard, Robert Hall & Gary Semro
Launch date1981
Replaced byABC Radio
AvailabilityNational, through regional affiliates

Satellite Music Network was the first satellite delivered network to provide complete live 24-hour-a-day music programming to local stations, under several different formats.


Affiliate stations, mostly in small and medium markets, could operate their stations virtually unmanned with nothing more than its existing tape-based playback equipment, a computer and a satellite hookup offering high quality air talent that they could never afford.

The concept was the presentation of live, carefully selected and rotated hit music, presented by experienced major market industry veterans over a satellite channel in real time.

Though nationally distributed, the presentation was localized by the network's talent pushing a button sending a subaudible tone over the network that would trigger a tape machine at the receiving station. For example, a button would be pressed triggering a local station's call letters and frequency (referred to as "magicalls") at the receiving station that was pre-recorded by the talent. The talent would then wait anywhere from 3 to 5 seconds before beginning to speak. Another button pressed at the end of a talk break by the talent would trigger a cluster of local commercials at the receiving station, or a closure tone at the receiving station would send control back to the network if there were no commercials. The network provided music and DJs, localized talent-matching liners, limited promotions support consisting of ideas used by other affiliates, and years later, a website. As the network moved from analog to digital satellite, it also provided receivers to affiliates to use on a loaned basis.

A "clock" was provided to affiliates outlining the placement of news and commercial cut-aways, and differed throughout the day and weekends. The clock included options for a 2-, 3-, or 5-minute newscasts at the top of the hour, followed by other holes for local spots. While the programming was live, DJs had to avoid references to the weather or anything else that would not be appropriate in many time zones. An 800-line was eventually added, allowing the live DJs to take phoned in requests.

SMN began in 1981 in Mokena, Illinois in a strip mall with two formats: AC (adult contemporary) - signed on by Bob Leonard (not the basketball player of the same name), and Country - signed on by Gary Semro. In less than three years, the network had signed more than 300 affiliates. By the late 1980s, SMN was broadcasting to more than 600 stations nationwide and in the Caribbean. In late 1989, SMN merged into ABC Radio (now Cumulus Media) and moved operations to Dallas, and expanded the number of available formats to ten. Today, this division is named Westwood One.

Bonneville Broadcasting also signed on with an easy listening format simultaneously to SMN - signed on by Tim Kolody from the same studios in August 1981. Bonneville pulled out of SMN in June 1984.

Among the talent that was employed at SMN was Chicago radio legend Eddie Hubbard and Joe Lacina on the Stardust format, Dean Richards who can be heard on WGN and WGN-TV in Chicago; Karen Williams of WNUA; Dennis Jon Bailey, now morning show host and Marconi Award winner at WIKY Radio in Evansville; News was done by Larry Langford also of WIND at the time and later WMAQ in Chicago; and John Calhoun, who continues to broadcast in the Chicago market. A top 40 network called "The Heat" also existed, but little historical information is available for this network. The networks were later moved to Dallas, Texas, where talent on Country Coast to Coast included: Jim Beedle, Jim Casey, Ted Clark, Steve Sharp, Jerry Walker, R.J. Steele, Mark Edwards, Jim Brady, Becky Wight, Catfish Prewitt. On StarStation the talent included: Peter Stewart, Bob Leonard, John Lacy, Janice Williams and others. Country Coast to Coast in the early 1990s had the phone number 1(800) US-SONGS which later changed to 1(800) 457-6647; Starstation 1 800) 832-0208.

Former Satellite Music Network networks

Network Ident Format Notes
Triangle-blue.svg Pure Gold Oldies from 1960s to 1970s Later "Oldies Radio", now known as "Classic Hits".
Triangle-red.svg The Classic Rock Experience Classic rock Now rebranded as Classic Rock by Cumulus Media in 2011. Discontinued in 2014 after Cumulus Media Networks' merger with Westwood One.
Triangle-red.svg Starstation Adult Contemporary Now known as "Hits and Favorites". Discontinued in 2014 after Cumulus Media Networks' merger with Westwood One.
Triangle-red.svg Kool Gold Oldies from '50s-early '60s Discontinued by ABC Radio Networks, 1995. Eventually replaced by The True Oldies Channel. An unrelated network of the same name was created by Dial Global in 2005.
Triangle-blue.svg Real Country Classic Country Partnership with Buck Owens and flagshipped at Owens-owned KCWW in Tempe, Arizona.
Triangle-red.svg Stardust Oldies/Standards Later "Timeless Classics" and "Timeless Favorites," now "Timeless". Discontinued February 2010.
Triangle-blue.svg Country Coast to Coast Country Later "Best Country Around," now known as "Today's Best Country"
Triangle-blue.svg The Touch Urban Adult Contemporary Briefly rebranded as "MyFavStation" in 2010. Reverted to original branding.
Triangle-red.svg Z Rock Heavy Metal Discontinued in December 1996

Later added by ABC

Network Ident Format Additional Notes (if any)
Triangle-red.svg The Christmas Channel Christmas Music Available from the day before Thanksgiving through Christmas Day. Discontinued
Triangle-teal.svg Jack FM Variety/Adult Hits Spun off to Dial Global. Cumulus acquired the company and merged its Cumulus Media Networks into the new Westwood One.
Triangle-grey.svg Radio Disney Children's Retained by Disney in ABC Radio sale; currently in phaseout.
Triangle-teal.svg Rejoice! Musical Soul Food Urban Contemporary Gospel Spun off to Urban Choice Media.
Triangle-red.svg Today's Best Hits Hot Adult Contemporary Formerly known as "ABC Hot AC". Discontinued in 2014 after Cumulus Media Networks merged with Westwood One.
Triangle-grey.svg The True Oldies Channel Oldies from 1950s to 1970s. Retained by host and founder Scott Shannon after his departure in 2014.
Triangle-gold.svg Unforgettable Favorites Soft Oldies/AC Merged into "Stardust"/"Timeless Classics" to create new "Timeless" (formerly "Timeless Favorites") format.

Triangle-blue.svg = Currently active on ABC Radio.
Triangle-purple.svg = Active on ABC Radio on a seasonal basis.
Triangle-teal.svg = Divested to other companies.
Triangle-gold.svg = Formats combined.
Triangle-red.svg = Currently discontinued.
Triangle-grey.svg = Retained by origin of network.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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