Effective this week, influential radio trade magazine Friday Morning Quarterback is ending their long-running metal radio chart. For over 20 years, the magazine ranked spins for commercial metal specialty shows, larger college stations, and national outlets like SiriusXM and Music Choice. FMQB‘s chart long outlasted other competitors, including Concrete, The Hard Report and Gavin. This leaves CMJ and Mediaguide’s Metal Specialty charts as the only remaining metal radio charts in the industry.
While CMJ‘s chart will still serve a purpose for the 250 or so college stations that have metal shows, there was no truer barometer of what commercial radio was playing on their weekly metal specialty shows than FMQB. And while some metal labels don’t necessarily care about radio airplay, many of them use chart position and feedback as a research tool to decide how popular a band is in a region, when to roll out a campaign to commercial radio, or to see what songs are reacting. Likewise, having a list of everything going for adds in a given week is an invaluable tool for radio, and the weekly ‘Metal Heads Up’ was the best (and sometimes only) way to find out when a new station started a metal show or one was cancelled. Make no mistake, most metal specialty shows aren’t going away, but they will have one less tool to use, and the lack of a quantifiable commercial radio chart will undoubtedly have repercussions throughout the industry.
From what I can gather, having a metal section at FMQB doesn’t make sense any more. I actually began my career at the magazine, working my way up over the course of my tenure there to become the metal director. Before I started there, the metal section was the biggest part of the magazine, with labels thinking nothing of dropping a few grand in ads every time a release came out. As CD sales started to decline – at first gradually, then sharply – the section shrank accordingly. Now instead of publishing weekly, FMQB publishes monthly, mainly living as online entity. The company has also shifted away from being a chart-driven magazine for the most part. Current FMQB metal director, Mandy Feingold, is remaining at the magazine where she’ll be focusing on other parts of the business. So while we can see why this is happening, the importance of FMQB‘s chart can’t be overstated, and it will be interesting to see who picks up the slack.