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Paul Heil's
THE GOSPEL GREATS Program
P. O. Box 1372
Lancaster PA 17608-1372
Phone (717) 898-9100
Fax (717) 898-6600
paul@thegospelgreats.com

Member of:

Southern Gospel Music Guild

Southern Gospel Music Assn.

Gospel Music Association

Southern Gospel Promoters Association


I enjoy the monthly Top 20 countdown. But why don't you do the countdown every week?

In Southern Gospel music, the charts turn over much too slowly for this to make much sense. Small week-to-week song movements on such a chart would make the program musically much the same from week to week. So we simply do the Top 20 countdown once a month (on the final program each month, reflecting the chart published in the following month's Singing News magazine). This has been our proven format since the program originated in 1980. This approach also has the great advantage of allowing us to present new music and many other features (such as our Artist Spotlight segments and special tributes) which would be impossible to fit into a program that's locked into a countdown-only approach. And this has the added advantage of making the countdown (since it's only once each month) much more interesting and exciting for listeners when it does happen.

Paul, I keep hearing you talk about "radio songs." What is a "radio song?"

"Radio songs" are what most people call "radio singles." These are individual songs which a record company selects to send out to radio for airplay from, normally, a new recording. The intent is to have one song playing from the artist's CD on radio everywhere so that it become popular and hits the national charts. This means increased awareness for the artist. The idea is that if radio could choose any song they want from a new CD to play, different stations would choose different songs and no one song would ever result in national chart action, thereby denying the artist that level of recognition. Now that you know what it is, I just think calling it a "radio song" is more descriptive than calling it a "radio single."

Following up on that last question, when did record companies start providing music recordings to radio -- and why?

It's a practice that dates back to the very beginnings of radio. When KDKA, Pittsburgh, PA, was experimenting with the first radio broadcasts in 1919, Dr. Frank Conrad, who operated the station for Westinghouse, spoke almost continuously into a microphone. His vocal chords took a beating. But a local music store offered to supply phonograph records that he could play to give his voice a rest. KDKA says the store found that records played on the air sold better than others. So record companies have been providing recorded music to radio ever since to promote the recordings (or individual songs) in the hope of driving sales.

Why don't you give more background information about your Featured Artists?

I'll bet you tune in late each week, don't you? We normally have four Featured Artist visits during each program, two each hour. The very first visit, normally in the first segment of the broadcast, is where we typically provide the most background information about the group, its history, its members, etc. More such information may appear during other segments, of course, but this is where it's most dependably heard. SO...you need to listen to the program from the very beginning each week.

Why don't you call it "The Southern Gospel Greats?"

Funny you should ask. Back in 1979 when preparations for our program began, what we now call Southern Gospel music was usually referred to by those involved simply as "Gospel" music, a practice that has precedents dating back at least to the 1800s. (As evidence, when the Gospel Music Association was formed it was started almost entirely by people involved in what is now commonly called Southern Gospel music.) That changed later when "Contemporary Christian" music came along and the industry felt it necessary to further distinguish what we now know as Southern Gospel. The GMA considers "Gospel" a term that applies to all genres of Christian music, because it all contains (or should) "the Gospel." Nevertheless, since our program was named so long ago, the title remains. (And our trademark attorneys say "The Southern Gospel Greats" is so close that anyone else trying to use that for a broadcast title could be considered in violation of our trademark.)


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