July 30, 2010

101.9 WENN Birmingham Brings Commercial Appeal to Neo Soul Radio

When the historic calls letters of WENN returned to the air in February of this year it marked a new direction in urban radio programming. WENN does indeed have a great history dating back to the civil rights era.

But the historic reason this time was WENN became the only commercial Neo Soul radio station in the country. (If there is another one, they're doing a great job of keeping it a secret.) So let's say it again, WENN is the only NEO-SOUL radio station in the country. It's not in Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York or D.C. It's in Birmingham, Alabama at 1019wenn.com.

Kori White is the program director of the former AM Black talk radio station. The station uses an FM translator at 101.9 FM to simultaneously broadcast its 1320 AM signal. White has done an absolutely fabulous job with the playlist that mixes in not only Neo Soul music, but also some Hip Hop and top rated R&B directly from the Urban and Urban AC charts. Local artists are also programmed on the station. (For those of you that want to know how to get your music played on the radio, fill up Kori White's inbox, not ours. lol)

This station is a much better programmed station in our opinion than the forerunner of Neo Soul radio programming, Satellite Radio XM 62 The Flow, which no longer exist. And very much better than the self programming listeners might be able to do with Pandora or Slacker pure play radio. You can check out WENN songs on the station's website.

In addition to Neo Soul programming the station features The Rickey Smiley Morning Show. Birmingham is not only the hometown of Smiley, but also his co-host Ebony Steele. However we think there is more Cox Media could do with 101.9 WENN which might include:

Upgrading the bandwidth of the online streaming player to bring forth a better quality sound. Adding live jocks would be great to hear too.

But what we don't want to see Cox Media do is use this station to control their ratings share within the Birgmingham market like they did in Atlanta with the now defuncted 97.1 Jamz. With the 3 years or so it existed, "Jamz" was basically a jukebox blasting hip hop jams from the 80's, 90's and today. But we kinda get that feeling...

In Atlanta, 97.1 Jamz was used to try to head off some of the big steam from V-103 and the little steam from Hot 107.9, so WALR (Kiss 104.1) numbers would look better. In didn't worked. In Birmingham, Cox Media also owns 95.7 Jamz WBHJ with veteran morning show host Buck Wilde and the "other 98.7 Kiss FM", top rated Urban AC station WBHK. Their competition for African American listeners in the market place mainly comes from Citadel owned R&B station (WUHT) Hot 107.7.

Hot 107.7 is not a traditional Urban AC station that you find in other cities, because there is virtually no classic soul played on the air outside of the Steve Harvey Morning Show and the Michael Baisden Show. WENN not only bites into Hot 107.7's audience share, but also prevents popular Birmingham native, Rickey Smiley from ever airing over on Hot 107.7.

In any event, we are glad that WENN via the internet can be shared around the world.

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