Sunday, October 4, 2009

Radio Stations I like, Part I

OK, I know radio is a not exactly as important to people as it used to be because of MP3 players, multimedia devices, and internet radio like Pandora.  However, I'm still a fan of listening to radio stations, particularly urban radio stations.  Here's my assessment of radio stations in Birmingham and across the nation that I know about and why I like them or hate them.

I'll start with Birmingham:

1) The Cox Radio Birmingham urban combo of WBHK/WENN "98.7 Kiss FM" and WBHJ "95.7 Jamz".  Honestly, I think they both suck because they are so skewed to 2 different demographic groups leaving those in middle like 24-40 year olds to wonder around the radio dial looking for something that fits them.  They are a textbook example of corporatized radio where the operators think you can "serve" listeners of urban radio with an Urban Adult Contemporary (Urban AC) and  Urban Contemporary Hit Radio (Urban CHR) stations.  Both are extreme lopsided with their playlists and song choices, so I don't even waste my time listening to them.  Finally, I wouldn't be a bit of surprised if Portable People Meter (PPM) causes both of these stations to fall from grace in the Arbitron ratings. 

2) WUHT "Hot 107.7" is another station in Birmingham, which I don't like.  They are just lost period.  They rank in top 10, but why does Birmingham have another R&B station?  I do mean "R&B" because that's all they play when they could be an full-service Urban Contemporary like WVEE "V-103" in Atlanta or their predecessor on the 107.7 dial position the original WENN.  Instead, they consistently lose against both of the Cox Urban combo because of they lost lackluster playlist and syndicated line-up of Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden, and Brian McKnight night time slow jams show.  There are already 4 stations in region if you include their sister station, Citadel-owned WTUG, out of Tuscaloosa that oversaturates this region with R&B only playlists.  Somebody with some common sense ought to just buy this station from Citadel and do it justice as a full-service urban that would give the Cox stations a run for their money.

Now on to other cities: In Washington, D.C., I do enjoy "95.5 PGC" formerly known as "WPGC 95.5".  They are a legendary "churban", which combines the Rhythmic Contemporary Hit/Crossover format with Urban Contemporary.  However, since the long-time former programming director, Jay Stevens, vacated the station in 2007 the station has falter tremendously.  They have become more "hits" oriented with their playlist compared to under Stevens where a mixture of throwbacks and hits were the balanced out to keep the playlist rotation relatively low for major market station.  I also enjoyed how they used to have local artists getting some major play like the Go-Go bands like E.U., which are big in the DC area.  Interestingly, the station has started give nation attention to Chuck Brown. The strong personality line-up of the legendary Donnie Simpson, former host of BET's Video Soul, is the morning man with Michele Wright for middays.  Unfortunely, the rest of the weekday line-up isn't as up to par with the "suspect" Darius "Big Tigger" Morgan in afternoons (former host of BET's Rap City: Da Basement) and a canned slow jams show compared to when it was under the helm of Stevens as "Love Talk and Slow Jams/the Coolout with Justine Love".  The station has seen better days, but I still enjoy it because they still have Simpson and some good song choices for a station in the nation's capital region. 

Another station I enjoy is KMEL also known as "106 KMEL" in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Although it is owned by corporate joke Clear Channel, it is still has its own sound and local flavor for a corporate-owned station.  It is also known along side WPGC as one of the first "crossover" stations in the nation that straddled the Urban and Rhythmic format designations throughout the 1990s.  They are the station that brought the nation 2Pac, Digital Underground, and legendary rapper Too Short.  It has become an Urban Contemporary these days, but it has a good mixture of current and old school music.  I actually catch myself listening to them on weekends when they play a plethora of throwbacks from the 1980s and 1990s mixed in with the current songs.  They also the only West Coast urban radio station that plays quite a bit of Southern hip-hop and hypey music from the Bay Area. 

I will talk about more stations in another installment including "V-103" in Atlanta, "102 Jamz" in Orlando, WGCI in Chicago, WDKX in Rochester, NY, WBLK in Buffalo, WERQ in Baltimore, and WZMX in Hartford, CT. 

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