Quick 96 (and its sister, Quick 106) was a listener washing technique employed by Clear Channel Communications when it wanted to quickly eliminate the regular audience of a radio station so they could change the format.

There is a common clause in royalty agreements that stipulates that playing less than 15 seconds of a song absolves you from having to pay any royalties. Upon discovering this, Clear Channel had hit upon an idea to cheaply run a radio station: play only 15 seconds of popular songs. This would never work as more than a novelty, but novelties are perfect for listener washing. Thus, Clear Channel created Quick 96 to turn over the audience for The Beat 95.7, a popular Seattle R&B station.

Quick 96 sounded like this: 15 seconds of the chorus of a popular song was played. Immediately following this, a computerized voice read a number. Lather, rinse, repeat. That was it. If you wanted to know what song had just been played, you visited quick96.com (or quick106.com, formerly Star 105.9 - the two stations were simulcasts of each other in the Clear Channel tradition) and looked up the number. The result was horribly annoying, abrasive radio - like most Clear Channel stations - that prided itself on the slogan "Only the best parts of your favorite songs."

Unfortunately, Quick96 was TOO weird - it actually attracted more listeners than the old station did, which is bad when you're trying to drive away listeners in droves. thus, after only pulling the stunt on two stations in the Seattle area, Clear Channel pulled the plug. Part of this was probably also due to the lack of royalty payments leaving the path clear for a webcast, which cost Clear Channel money. The short attention span of most webcast listeners lent itself well to the Whitman's Sampler style of radio present on Quick 96, and it became a cult staple passed around in email and IMs.

For a depressing look at what Clear Channel is doing to become The McDonald's of Radio, pull up the sites for Quick96.com and Quick106.com in the Wayback Machine. Not only are they identical, but each station that had this stunt applied to them posted the exact same form message signed by the now unemployed station manager.

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