A Week of Music on Winnipeg’s 92.1FM: What’s on the Airwaves?

When it comes to radio stations, the playlist is king. It’s what keeps listeners tuned in or has them switching the dial.

Recently, we conducted a one-week analysis of Winnipeg’s 92.1FM to better understand what music is captivating the city’s audiences.

The results were eye-opening, to say the least. Below we explore several key trends, ranging from the representation of Canadian talent to the diversity of the playlist.

Top 10 Artists Played

ArtistNumber of Plays
The Tragically Hip49
Foo Fighters36
Our Lady Peace35
The Offspring30
Green Day27
Led Zeppelin26

From the data collected, it is evident that The Tragically Hip leads the pack with 49 plays, followed by Metallica with 44.

The top 10 artists make up a significant portion of the station’s weekly playlist, indicating a preference for classic rock and alternative rock genres.

Presence of Canadian Artists in the Context of Total Songs Played

The presence of Canadian artists on Winnipeg’s 92.1FM playlist isn’t merely a matter of quantity; it’s also about the frequency with which their songs are played. In the week-long data set, 49 Canadian artists were featured, making up 25% of the total artists on the list. But how do these numbers translate when we consider the total number of songs played?

In total, the station played 1042 songs over the course of the week. Of those, 255 songs were by Canadian artists, accounting for nearly 24.5% of the total playlist. This is quite significant, and it’s worth noting that this isn’t just a case of a few popular artists getting heavy rotation.

The top 10 most-played artists included four Canadian bands: The Tragically Hip with 49 songs, Our Lady Peace with 35 songs, Headstones with 31 songs, and The Trews with 24 songs. Together, they accounted for 139 of the 255 Canadian songs played, demonstrating both depth and breadth in the station’s commitment to showcasing Canadian talent.

The playlist also included a range of other Canadian artists from various genres, such as Moist, Rush, Three Days Grace, and even iconic singer-songwriter Neil Young. This varied representation makes it evident that Winnipeg’s 92.1FM is not only promoting Canadian talent but also providing a diverse listening experience, covering the extensive spectrum of Canada’s musical landscape.

So, if you’re tuning into Winnipeg’s 92.1FM, there’s a roughly 1 in 4 chance that you’ll catch a tune by a Canadian artist, making it a terrific platform for listeners keen on discovering or reconnecting with Canadian music.

Presence of Lead Female Singers: A Room for Improvement

Diving into the gender dynamics of Winnipeg’s 92.1FM playlist, one can’t help but notice the scarcity of female lead singers. While the playlist is robust in its variety of genres and decades, it falls short in representing female artists adequately.

Out of the 1042 songs played over the course of the week, a mere 46 songs featured female lead singers, accounting for only about 4.4% of the total playlist. This is a noticeably low figure, considering the wealth of female talent in the music industry, especially in genres like rock, alternative, and metal, which the station primarily focuses on.

Artists like Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, and Joan Jett were among the few female-fronted acts to make it to the playlist. Stevie Nicks had 4 songs played, while Pat Benatar and Joan Jett each had a single song aired during the week. While these artists are undoubtedly iconic, the playlist would benefit from a broader inclusion of contemporary female voices as well, considering the breadth of female talent available in the music world today.

Additionally, among the Canadian artists featured, only a handful—like Bif Naked—were female-led. This shows that the underrepresentation of female artists is not only a general issue but also affects the station’s commitment to showcasing Canadian talent.

In summary, while Winnipeg’s 92.1FM does a commendable job in various aspects, such as promoting Canadian artists, there’s significant room for improvement in terms of gender diversity. Increasing the presence of female lead singers would not only enrich the station’s playlist but also create a more inclusive listening experience. Given the abundance of female talent in rock and its sub-genres, there are ample opportunities for the station to diversify its selection while maintaining its focus on high-quality music.

Top 10 Played Songs

SongArtistNumber of Plays
Bulls On ParadeRage Against the Machine10
Another Celebration at the End of the WorldMammoth WVH9
Emotion SicknessQueens of the Stone Age9
Leader of MenNickelback9
Together RightFinger Eleven9
EpicFaith No More8
Space LordMonster Magnet8
Wasting My TimeDefault8
Too Far Gone?Metallica8
AlivePearl Jam7

Notes on the Top 100 Songs

  1. Dominant Genres: Most songs in the top 100 list belong to the rock and metal genres, highlighting the station’s focus and its audience’s preference.
  2. Canadian Presence: Nickelback and Finger Eleven, both Canadian bands, appear in the top 10 list, reinforcing the representation of Canadian artists. This adds up to a total of 18 plays for Canadian artists in the top 10.
  3. Female Lead Singers: There’s a noticeable lack of female lead singers in the top 10 songs. The trend continues throughout the top 100, showing a gender imbalance in airplay.
  4. Diversity of Artists: While the top 10 features a variety of artists, the entire list of top 100 songs has a relatively broad range of artists, albeit primarily within the rock and metal genres.
  5. Repeated Artists: Metallica appears twice in the top 10, suggesting a strong fan following or programming preference for this artist. The same artist appearing multiple times is a recurring theme in the top 100.
  6. Airtime Distribution: The number of plays ranges from 4 to 10 across the top 100 list, indicating a relatively even distribution of airtime among the top songs.

Age of Songs: Old vs. New

The age of songs on a playlist can significantly influence the listening experience and audience engagement, providing another critical lens through which to evaluate diversity. Our data highlights that 92.1FM has a marked preference for what many would consider “classic” tracks in the rock and alternative genres.

Classic Tracks Dominate the Playlist

A large portion of the top 100 songs, including chart-toppers like “Bulls On Parade” by Rage Against the Machine, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, and “Creep” by Radiohead, hail from the 1990s or early 2000s. These selections clearly suggest that the station leans toward nostalgia, seeking to captivate audiences that have an emotional connection with these hits from yesteryears.

Implications for Younger Audiences

However, the overwhelming presence of older tracks can have a flip side: it may alienate younger listeners who prefer more current music. While older songs may resonate with an audience that grew up during the ’90s and early 2000s, they may not hold the same appeal for younger generations who are less familiar with these tracks. This generation gap creates a potential blind spot in 92.1FM’s strategy, as they may be missing out on capturing a younger, perhaps more digitally connected audience that actively seeks new music releases.

Exceptions Highlight the Rule

There are a few contemporary tracks that make it to the list, such as “Another Celebration at the End of the World” by Mammoth WVH. However, these appear to be more the exception than the rule, reinforcing the temporal bias in the station’s playlist.

Balancing Act for Broader Appeal

The emphasis on older tracks suggests a calculated decision to target a specific demographic, likely older Millennials and Gen Xers who may feel a strong sense of nostalgia for these songs. However, to attract a broader, more age-diverse listener base, 92.1FM might need to consider incorporating a more balanced mix of both classic and contemporary hits. By doing so, they could better align with the diverse tastes of a wider audience, creating a more universally appealing listening experience.

How Diverse is the Playlist?

When we discuss diversity in a playlist, it can be considered through multiple lenses: musical genre, cultural background of the artists, and even the gender of lead singers. Let’s dive into these aspects using the data from 92.1FM’s top 100 played songs of the week.

Genre Diversity

Firstly, the genre representation is skewed towards rock and alternative rock, which make up 79% of the total artists featured. This is a substantial majority and clearly signals the station’s genre focus. However, this concentration on rock and alternative rock narrows the musical diversity significantly. While the station does sprinkle in some metal and pop-rock, these are more of an exception rather than a rule. There is virtually no representation of other musical genres like hip-hop, country, electronic, or classical. So, from a genre perspective, the playlist could be considered limited in its diversity.

Long Tail of Lesser-Played Artists

Another noteworthy point is the ‘long tail’ phenomenon observed in the playlist. A significant number of songs—especially those towards the bottom of the top 100 list—are from artists who only get one or two plays throughout the week. This ‘long tail’ contributes to artist diversity to some extent. However, it’s important to note that these lesser-played artists generally fall within the same dominant genres of rock and alternative rock. Thus, even the long tail doesn’t contribute much to the genre diversity.

Cultural and Gender Diversity

While the playlist data doesn’t offer insights into the cultural background or ethnicity of the artists, it does highlight that Canadian artists do get a decent amount of playtime. As for gender diversity, there is a noticeable under-representation of female lead singers, which we touched upon in an earlier section.

In summary, 92.1FM’s playlist shows a strong focus on rock and alternative genres, with a ‘long tail’ of lesser-played artists within those genres. While this may align well with the station’s branding and target audience, it leaves little room for musical diversity across different genres, cultural backgrounds, and genders. The station appears to have carved out a specific niche, but in doing so, has limited its range in terms of musical diversity.


92.1FM offers an interesting case study into the dynamics of a specialized radio station’s playlist. A deep dive into their most frequently played tracks reveals some notable trends that reflect both the station’s brand and its chosen niche.

  1. Canadian Artists: While the station features a good amount of Canadian talent, these artists are mostly found in the less frequently played tracks, rather than in the list of top performers.
  2. Lead Female Singers: Despite the male-dominated landscape of the rock and alternative genres, the station does make room for lead female vocalists, although their presence is less pronounced.
  3. Diversity: In terms of musical genres, the station is heavily skewed towards rock and alternative rock, with a noticeable absence of other genres. This could limit the station’s appeal to those looking for a more diverse auditory experience.
  4. Top 10 Artists: While the most-played artists offer a good mix of classic and contemporary acts, the focus largely remains on well-known names in the rock and alternative scenes.
  5. Age of Songs: The playlist’s temporal bias leans towards older, classic tracks, potentially limiting its appeal to younger audiences interested in contemporary releases.

To capture a broader, more age-diverse audience while retaining their core listener base, 92.1FM could consider tweaking its playlist. Incorporating a more balanced mix of new and old songs, as well as giving more airtime to Canadian artists and female lead singers, could make for a more inclusive and engaging listening experience.

In summary, while 92.1FM excels at delivering a focused, brand-aligned musical experience, there are opportunities for the station to expand its reach and relevance through greater playlist diversity. With some careful adjustments, the station has the potential to become a go-to source for rock and alternative music for listeners of all ages and backgrounds.

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