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Top 250 - Update

Posted on the 04 March 2011 by Conroy @conroyandtheman
by Conroy
Top 250 - UpdateRecently my favorite radio station, WTMD, out of Towson, Maryland (and affiliated with Towson University) played a list of the "500 Desert Island Songs" as compiled by WTMD listeners. WTMD has a history of playing countdowns of lists like these during its tri-annual fundraisers. Like all public radio stations, WTMD survives because of user contributions, a fiscal reality that may become even more basic if federal funding is largely or entirely curtailed.
I am a contributor to WTMD because the station resurrected my belief that radio is worthwhile, and because I think it's a great supporter of the Baltimore music scene. It is as advertised, radio for music people and not radio around commercials. It has also become my best source to hear new music. The station streams online and the website is linked in this blog's Favorite Web Sites list (see right sidebar). Check it out if you get a chance.
When I heard about the latest list, I hurriedly submitted my 10 favorite "desert island songs" to WTMD (this is how the overall list was compiled). Actually, I submitted three lists, or my top 30 songs (only mild cheating because I didn't submit any song twice). WTMD took a month to compile the full list, so I can only assume that thousands of songs were submitted. "Desert Island Songs" were supposed to be songs that a person couldn't live without, which I think is a form of a person's favorite songs. As a result, I thought it would be interesting to compare WTMD's 500 Desert Island Songs to my Top 250 Songs. How much overlap could there be? On one extreme all 250 songs from my list would show up on the WTMD list, on the other extreme none of my Top 250 Songs would show up on the WTMD list.
Before the countdown began, I guessed that 75 of my Top 250 Songs would be represented and 35 of my Top 100 Songs would be there. The actual results:
  • 41 of my Top 250 Songs were on the Desert Island List (16.4%)
  • 26 of my Top 100 Songs were on the Desert Island List (26%)
So I'm a little surprised that not as many of my favorite songs were listed as other WTMD listeners favorite songs. And a review of the WTMD list reveals song songs and rankings that are head-scratchers (and maybe some "ballot stuffing" by zealous fans of particular artists/songs). Still, the amount of overlap seems reasonable...my list has enough "popular" songs to avoid being overly eccentric but enough outliers to be distinctive.
What was the highest ranked song that is included in my Top 250 Songs? "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen (also the highest Top 100 Song), ranked number 3. The most surprising Top 250 Song to make the WTMD list? I don't know, maybe "Misunderstood" by Wilco; I thought maybe this song wasn't as liked by others as it was by me.

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