July 29, 2010

Rolling With Only the 80's and 90's, Not a Good Idea for Urban AC Radio

Many listeners and armchair PD's believe you can grow a format with New Jack Swing R&B and Hip Hop from that era. At the present time, WMMJ Majic 102.3 is in the midst of taking their advice and re-programming their playlists.

The most recent PPM Ratings revealed that WMMJ was the Number 2 overall listened to station in the Washington, D.C. area. But that was before the change. They put it out there, that they were dumping their entire airstaff (because no one wants to hear DJ's chattering between songs) and going with a younger, "80's, 90's and today" sound, in an effort to get more ears listening from the most desirable demo, women.

Majic 102.3 decided to make the change (and their imaging too) to appeal to women with "the music they grew up with." Now it's called My R&B station. It will be interesting to see if their experiment will work. But it looks like it's not working already. Those PPM Meters must be telling them something...

What they were programming about 3 weeks ago, seems to have been cut back on drastically. A lot less Soul for Real, Jodeci, SWV, Xscape, Brownstone, and After 7. The Emotions, The Isley Brothers and Rene & Angela are creeping back into the playlist. However Hip Hop during the day from the likes of Notorious B.I.G., Montell Jordan, and Salt 'n Pepa bumping up next to these songs is stretching the limits of the traditional Urban Adult format. Quite frankly it sounds like you're asking listeners to get use to something they're not prepared to do... (Everybody knows women don't like rap, they only act like they do in the clubs and at cookouts!!!)

The problem we see in the "mostly New Jack Swing R&B" format is growth. There is none. We've seen it before in the old Jammin' Oldies format and the tweaking that is now going on with the "Movin'" type adult rhythmic formats across the country. If it can't grow, how can you sell it.

Any Urban format has to be able to grow to survive and you can't throw the gold away either. There will always be a place for classic "my mama used to love this song" stuff from the likes of Al Green, The O'Jays, Anita Baker, Chaka Kahn, Luther Vandross and Patti LaBelle. Notice, you don't hear Urban AC playing Grandma's favorites. (The Temptations, The Supremes, James Brown, or Sam Cooke do you?) You also have to be able to make room for Usher, Maxwell, and Alicia Keys too. The Urban AC format will evolve naturally, so making drastic changes is not the thing to do.

WMMJ's next PPM numbers should be interesting.
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