Calgary's AMP radio gives up on short songs format

A Calgary radio station has given up a format featuring shorter versions of songs that it said gave listeners twice the music.

90.3 radio station tried out QuickHitz since the beginning of August

AMP Calgary radio station has been playing shorter songs on air for about three weeks. (CBC)

A Calgary radio station has given up a format that cut Top 40 pop songs roughly in half

Its goal was to give listeners twice the music, but 90.3 AMP radio decided it wasn't worth it after realizing the potential for lawsuits from the music industry. 

"Now twice the music," was the new slogan for the AMP Calgary radio station. (CBC)

But Steve Jones, vice-president of programming, said the station went back to its original format Tuesday.

"We realized that in order to successfully do this we were going to face a lengthy and divisive and expensive legal process that we weren't willing to do right now, especially when some of those would come from the very content providers we work with — they are partners in our success," he said.

Jones says the logic of having three- to five-minute long radio songs is from 60 years ago when radio broadcasters played 45 rpm records. 

The average song on AMP had been running under two-and-a-half minutes under the new format.

The station had been looking for something to differentiate itself from other Top 40 stations in the city. Calgary was also chosen because it was a "progressive, young forward-thinking city."

Jones says he is convinced the format is good and could be brought back if revamped.

Some musicians insulted

Jones said they did hear from some angry musicians, but not those they play on AMP radio.

One such exchange came on social media from Calgary artist Jann Arden. She called the station's format an insult to musicians.

"The whole thing with Jann Arden was really blown out of proportion because of personal attacks," said Jones.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for the artists that we play and the artists we don't play, and the music they make. From the very beginning we knew there would be issues and challenges like this, we just didn't think they would amount to quite as much as they have." 

The radio station used the program Quickhitz, which comes from a Vancouver-based company called Sparknet Communications, to shave down the songs.

Jones says for years radio stations have been editing songs or playing different versions.

The radio station believes it was the first in Canada — and possibly the world — to offer the abbreviated format.

It's not the first time AMP Calgary has made national headlines. It came under fire last March for burning $5,000 in cash on air after holding a contest that asked listeners to vote on whether to raffle off the cash or incinerate it. 

With files from The Canadian Press