Elaine Valliere Wittig found herself singing along to the 1969 rock hit “Venus” by Shocking Blue on an early February trip to the Saco Hannaford. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

SACO — As she reached for a box of chocolate chip muffin mix, Elaine Valliere Wittig found herself softly singing along to the 1969 rock classic “Venus” by Shocking Blue.

She was picking up a few things on a Monday morning at her neighborhood Hannaford supermarket. A few minutes earlier, as the Bangles’ 1985 hit “Manic Monday” was playing in the store, another shopper turned to her to point out the impeccable timing of the tune.

“I like the music. It just makes the chore of shopping more fun,” said Valliere Wittig, 60, of Saco. “It’s not that much fun, especially the way prices are today.”

About a year ago, Scarborough-based Hannaford supermarkets re-energized its music selection, which for years was piped in over a single satellite channel playing a mix of very soft and mostly forgettable pop and jazz. Now, the chain’s 187 stores, including 66 in Maine, each have access to 10 channels playing hard-edged rock, upbeat contemporary pop, classic hits, country, hip-hop and more.

Working and shopping at Hannaford is no longer the musical equivalent of being stuck in a giant elevator.

“Some of them in the bakery were dancing (to ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA) when I came in,” said Susan Vire, 55, the store’s assistant bakery manager. “The music is a lot better now, more current, more up-to-date. I’m a big country fan, but I like hip-hop too. It’s nice to have that variety.”


A few steps away in the deli, Jeannie Emery said having music she enjoys playing in the store helps get her energized. That’s important because her shift sometimes starts at 5 a.m.

“It keeps me bebopping all morning. I notice everybody getting into it,” said Emery, 54. “I think everybody gets more done.”

Jeannie Emery, working in the deli at the company’s Saco store, says the new music mix at Hannaford has her “bebopping.” Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


The change to Hannaford’s in-store music was made because annual employee surveys showed it was something the workers really wanted.

“We had the same mix of music for years, the same elevator music, and it can get on people’s nerves,” said Adam Bowen, the Saco Hannaford store’s manager who helped lead the effort to change the music companywide. “That was a big focus on our yearly (employee) surveys, people wanted to change the music. So we started looking at what we could do.”

Hannaford workers said they wanted more variety and also more say in what was played. In 2022, Hannaford began working with its satellite music provider, Mood Media, to come up with a music selection more closely aligned with employee tastes.


Mood Media offers more than 200 “professionally curated music programs” across 15 genres. Hannaford store managers whittled those down to 10 channels, based on what employees said in surveys they wanted to hear, Bowen said. The new channels started playing in March in Hannaford stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York.

Susan Vire, assistant bakery manager at the Hannaford in Saco, was greeted by co-workers dancing to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA on a recent morning. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The list of channels now playing at Hannaford supermarkets includes:

• Country Music One, with artists like George Strait, Luke Bryan or Faith Hill

• Classic Hits, featuring a range of pop and rock artists from Boston and Bryan Adams to Janet Jackson and Gloria Gaynor

• 80s Hits, playing The Police, Madonna, Prince and others

• 70s Hits, with Elton John, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles


• Varsity, playing harder-edged rock acts like Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard

• Nashville USA, featuring contemporary country artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Eric Church

• Hitline, with contemporary pop and R&B stars like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and Post Malone

• FM Dos, which plays upbeat pop and some Spanish-language songs

• Hot FM, another contemporary pop channel with artists like Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons

• FM 1, a mix of soft pop and adult contemporary including artists like Jewel, Andy Grammer or Amy Grant


FM 1 was the only channel Hannaford stores had before the change, Bowen said.

The music varies based on who is working and what time of day it is. Bowen says the overnight crew at the store might crank up Varsity to hear hard rockers like Ozzy Osbourne to keep their energy high while the rest of the world sleeps. When morning customers arrive, the music will likely get changed to something more “low key” like hits from the ’70s or ’80s, or Classic Hits, Bowen said.

“Hearing AC/DC or ‘No More Tears’ from Ozzy at 9 a.m. might kind of rub some people the wrong way,” said Bowen, 40, referring to some of the artists played on the Varsity channel.

Mitchell Richardson, front-end manager at the Saco Hannaford, found himself playing deejay when the new music system there took affect. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Throughout the day, the music can change based on employee requests. During the first few months the new music system was in place, Saco’s front-end manager, Mitchell Richardson, was doing double duty as a deejay.

“At least once or twice an hour somebody would come to me about changing the channel or asking questions about the music,” said Richardson, 31.

Richardson himself says he doesn’t pay close attention to what’s playing – even with 10 channels, none are really his cup of tea. He was pleasantly surprised one day to hear the melody to “Gymnopedie No. 1” by Erik Satie, one of his favorite composers. He heard it because it’s used in a 2001 Janet Jackson song, “Someone to Call My Lover,” and played on the FM Dos channel.



People sometimes call store or elevator music Muzak, the way people call tissues Kleenex. That’s because Muzak was the name of the company that pioneered background music in stores and other places, starting in 1934.

Mood Media bought Muzak more than a decade ago, and now the company provides music to more than 500,000 sites in 149 countries, according to Jaime Bettencourt, senior vice president of North America and Global Sales Services at Mood Media. Those sites include stores, restaurants, hotels, financial institutions, hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Mood Media provides music in some 500 supermarkets and grocery locations in Maine alone, Bettencourt said. Several other supermarket chains with stores in Maine, including Market Basket and Shaw’s, did not respond to email questions about their in-store music. A representative from Whole Foods declined to respond.

Mood Media sends out the specific channels requested by its clients via satellite, Bettencourt said. If “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard was playing on Varsity in one Hannaford store, it would be heard at any Hannaford store playing Varsity at that time, Bettencourt said.

Connor Jones, a biology professor at the University of New England, likes the soft classic rock artists played at Hannaford supermarkets. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

On a recent Monday morning, with the 70s Hits and Classic Hits channels playing in the Saco store, the musical selection included some often-heard radio tunes like “Manic Monday” or “Dancing Queen.” But there were some songs most of us have not heard in a long while, if at all. One was “Day by Day,” a 1985 release by The Hooters, a group perhaps better known (or not) for the hit song “And We Danced.” Others included the 1977 disco tune “Love Is in the Air” by Australian singer John Paul Young, and “Love Will Find a Way” from soft rockers Pablo Cruise, circa 1978.

As the Spinners’ 1980 version of The Four Seasons’ “Working My Way Back to You” played, Connor Jones, 30, a biology professor at the University of New England, pushed his small cart filled with mostly vegetables down an aisle. Jones, of Saco, says he really didn’t notice when the music at Hannaford changed, but he likes the mix of eras and genres he hears on shopping trips now. He’s fan of softer classic rock bands – Steely Dan, for instance – and he finds himself singing along to Hannaford’s tunes every once in a while.

In the chip and snack aisle, Barbara Kelly of Livermore said she noticed the change in Hannaford’s music and likes it a lot better now. She finds herself singing along to songs she knows, songs she remembers hearing when they were first on the radio, like “Manic Monday,” nearly 40 years ago.

“Trying to be young again, but it doesn’t work,” Kelly, 73, said of singing along to classic hits. “The music here is better now, more fun. It makes me dance down the aisle.”

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