iHeartRadio launches ad-free single-year hit stations, keyed to graduation nostalgia

iheart class of radioiHeartRadio has announced streaming stations that focus on hits from single years. Called Class of Radio, the idea is to pick your graduation year. Any year from 1950 through 2016 is available, though, so the series also functions as highly niched back-catalog stations.

The stations are fun to dip in and out of as a kind of history of hits. We have long admired AccuRadio’s cluster programming which groups stations by high-school periods such as “Summer Hits ’64-’69” and “Oldies 1967-1968” which is pitched as “A golden age of AM Top 40.” (AccuRadio is marketed to non-Millennial older listeners.) iHeart’s gambit targets the specific nostalgia of graduation year.

The first station we tested began with a video pre-roll — nothing unusual about that. The ad was for SoFi (refinance college loans — nicely topical). When the music began, a companion banner appeared in the web app we tested, proclaiming the stream to be ad-free courtesy of SoFi. An iHeart spokesperson confirmed that all the stations are ad-free (after the pre-roll).

There might be a data play at work — any programming tactic which teases out the listener’s age probably works that datum into a larger dataset. We selected a graduation year from an unregistered browser, and were presented with a registration form, as expected. We opened a new account with false age information (sorry, iHeart), and the service threw us into that year’s Class of Radio station. (There was no pre-roll, and the page was sponsored by Chevrolet.)

Repeating the test in yet another unregistered browser, we declined to fill out the date-of-birth field. iHeartRadio wouldn’t accept the account. We conclude that if there is a data-collecting benefit to the Class of Radio programs, it is minimal, as you can’t access the station without handing over your age — honestly or not.

At any rate, the stations are fun, and are HERE.

Brad Hill


  1. I’d say I’m sorry to rain on iHeart’s parade about their “Class of” offering, but I’m really not. You see, Radio George (radiogeorge.com) put together the same concept FIVE YEARS AGO under the same “Class of…” name! And, my operation is also commercial-free. To be sure, my target audience is older, and that’s why the Radio George “Class of..” series spans 1955-1975. Kind of makes you wonder if someone saw this and it sort of wound up at iHeart, doesn’t it? I’ll take it as a compliment…even though it’s a pretty brazen copy of something that’s been on the ‘Net for a long time

  2. Ad Free Because they can’t get anyone to buy any ads.

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