Have you ever heard a song on the radio and thought: "That song is going to be huge"?

Then it flops like a fish tossed on a dock.

It's nearly impossible to predict which songs will become hits; some of the worst songs you've ever heard do it all the time. Anyone who can hear a song, say "It's a hit" and nail it even 50% of the time needs to run, not walk, to the nearest casino because their luck is astounding and they've got "millionaire" tattooed on their DNA.

I've been a huge music fan since I was 12 years old and bought my first stereo with paper-route money. I spent about 20 years as music writer for The Birmingham News in Alabama. I figure I received at least 3,000 CDs from the record labels and saw about 1,000 concerts in those years.

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Shawn Ryan

I'm still lousy at predicting hits. But I still try.

Which is the heart of my radio show, "Greatest Hits You've Never Heard," on WUTC-FM 88.1 During the hour-long broadcast, I play songs that were actually released as singles and, even though I think they're great songs, hit the charts with a resounding "Thud!" Some of them never even hit the charts at all.

Other songs are ones I personally think should have been released as singles but weren't because the record labels couldn't care less what I think.

For instance, in 1994, Shoes released a spiffy little rock/pop song called "Tore a Hole" as a single. I think it should've been a hit; no one else did. Since 1987, the Canadian country-rock band Blue Rodeo has released more than 50 singles, with 20 of them hitting the Top 40 up there; not one has ever charted in the U.S.

The show features, rock, country, blues, R&B, soul, pop, even some prog rock at times, maybe even music with a touch of jazz. Its songs run from the 1960s through 2019.

Before you say, "He's using his column to make money off his show. How unethical," this is not about money. I'm not getting paid a thing to do the show. I'm doing it out of my love of music and the desire to maybe turn someone on to music they haven't heard before.

"Greatest Hits You've Never Heard" airs at 2 p.m. Friday on WUTC-FM and, then is replayed at 10 p.m. that night and at 9 a.m. Mondays on WUTC's HD-2 channel. So give it a listen — or not. Who knows? You may hear something you want to explore further.

Contact Shawn Ryan at


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