Sunday, February 26, 2012

A post dedicated to urban radio

I haven't discussed on this blog in over year the affairs of urban radio, but I am dedicating this one post to it.  Right now, I'm going to dub this one the "State of Urban Radio" post.

Right now, urban radio is in a tizzy because of the recent changes and shifts due to the release of more analysis and summary profiles of 2010 US Census decennial count.  In Atlanta, V-103 (WVEE) is still dominating by a long shot as the #1 urban station and overall station in the Atlanta radio market.  As of the January 2012 Arbitron ratings, WVEE is pushing a 10-share with 9.8.  CBS Radio Atlanta management is doing a helluva job maintaining an equal balance of dayparting musical programming with major events and promotions for the station.  Although, Atlanta isn't considered the largest market for the urban division, the station is still the 'flagship'.

Washington DC, is other major urban radio market where things are still changing and shifting with the times.  After nearly 5 years of floating around and dealing with so many shift, CHRurban juggernaut, WPGC 95.5 has found its footing.  It is finally secured its place back into the overall 12+ top 10 of the Washington radio market.  However, it still hasn't found a way to take down the R&B-exclusive urban adult contemporary formatted stations of Howard University-owned WHUR 96.3 and WMMJ "Majic 102.3", which are still respectively #5 and #6 overall.  I'm a huge fan of CBS-owned urban/urban-leaning rhythmic CHR stations, so I'm rooting for WPGC because they have shown they can be a well-programmed station that competes with both UACs, Radio One-owned urban contemporary WKYS "93.9 WKYS", and Clear Channel-owned CHR/mainstream (top 40) WIHT "Hot 99.5".  Unfortunately, they have just had bad management over the past few years since long time program director/VP of urban/rhythmic programming for CBS Radio, Jay Stevens, jumped ship on them just in time for the arrive of the Portable People Monitoring (PPM) system of ratings allocation into the DC market in early 2007.    WPGC is now back to playing actual hip-hop and R&B, contemporary and old school, along with some crossover pop tracks, which works for them considering they aren't V-103, rather a crossover station that targets blacks, Latinos, and some suburban whites.

In San Francisco, Clear Channel-owned and long-time CHRurban, KMEL "106 KMEL", is still doing their thing.  Although they are the only urban station that targets 18-34 year olds, although they program towards the 18-49 year old crowd.  Regardless, they are still doing their damn thing with #5 overall in the 12+ ratings of the San Francisco-Oakland radio market.  It is surprising for a Clear Channel station, well programmed with throwbacks from the late 1980s through mid-2000s integrated into its playlist and mixshows.  Overall, they are doing a good job.  These days, KMEL is the best programmed urban station in the high ranked market in the nation.

In lower ranked but major markets, Orlando has turned into a complete and utter disaster for CBS Radio.  WJHM "102 Jamz" has shifted towards rhythmic category, essentially dropping all of its contemporary R&B from its playlist, not like DC sister station WPGC which maintained its urban-lean the entire time.  Sitting at the bottom of the heap in the Orlando radio market at #15. Now with a playlist consisting of mostly dance, electropop, and hip-pop tracks, and it sounds like garbage.  This is what happens chasing after Cox Radio-owned WPYO, "Power 95.3" and allowing their sister station UAC-formatted WCFB "Star 94.5" runamok in the Orlando market unchallenged. Their play is to chase after Clear Channel-owned WXXL "XL 106.7" and "Power 95.3" with this shift hoping to bounce back. CBS needs to get it together with WJHM because "102 Jamz" is the only true heritage station in the market that has carried urban music over-the-air, but they are too busy trying to experiment with the rhythmic (non-urban-leaning kind) format in a market with a growing black population (15% as of the 2010 Census).

Not very bright at all if you ask me.  CBS might just failed this market not because of it is trying, but because they are trying the wrong things with a station that actually has the best positioning from signal strength and penetration to reputation amongst urban music listeners in Orlando and Central Florida.  I expect this station to remain sitting below the top 10 for a long time to come because Orlando isn't Miami, where they only have one rhythmic "Power 96" WPOW, that had to constantly reformulate itself to deal with Latin rhythmic stations and a rhythmic AC.  Miami is way more ethnically diverse.

Other mentioning is the strength of black-owned and operated station, KPRS "Hot 103 Jamz", in Kansas City.  Carter Broadcasting Group is still going long and strong even in this corporate-owned radio era with a locally-owned and operated (and non-white owned) urban station.  It is another surprisingly well programmed urban station in this Great Plains metropolis.  Although most of the blacks in reside in the cities of Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City/Wyandotte County, Kansas in the bi-state metropolitan area.  The station has a flamethrower signal that can be hard nearly 70 miles in any direction from its tower site in the southside of Kansas City (MO).

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