November 28, 2014

Classic Hip Hop Radio: We've Been Down This Road Before Right?

"A great idea when you think about it. Play oldies that thirty and forty something’s remember without playing older music they don’t remember. Then, on top of that, don’t play the slow boring stuff that many oldies stations are married to, and you should have a winner. Sounds good to me."

These comments are NOT about the new Classic Hip Hop format that has hit a number of cities. [Here's the original comments from the article]

No the comments were about a radio format that swept across the country to a greater degree than the Classic Hip Hop format is doing right now about fifteen years ago. Currently there's Radio One "Classic or Throwback Hip Hop" BOOM stations in Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Atlanta. In addition Radio One in competing with two other Classic Hip Hop stations in Atlanta (Old School 99.3, OG 97.9) and one other station in Dallas.

The format that came before Classic Hip Hop and eventually crashed and burned was The Jammin' Oldies format. For those radio folks that have been around for a bit, they will surely remember the format from the late 90's. Every city had a Jammin' Oldies station.

In New York the station that now sits at 105 FM, Power 105.1, was once the home to Jammin' 105. The format was characterized by such songs as The Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me"; the Commodores' "Brick House"; Earth, Wind and Fire's "Let's Groove Tonight"; and Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady." For those that remember most Jammin' Oldies stations came on the scene around 1998 and by 2002 they were mostly gone.

Now comes the prospect of Classic Hip Hop. As we said earlier some of the same thoughts that were applied to this format now, was the mindset of many programmers then, during the short lived Jammin' Oldies era. (Bringing a fresh approach to the oldies format that will attract 30 and 40 year olds.) Many of those stations shot up the ratings chart. Media companies all across the country took notice and got on board. At the time it was a format that was on fire!

We're interested in seeing where the ratings go from here. In Houston the former all news station was dumped and Boom 92 generated an unprecedented surge in the station's ratings within a month. Is it smart or short sightedness to think that can happen in other cities? Undoubtedly not all three stations in Atlanta or the two stations in Dallas will survive. From where we sit the freshness and newness of this format feels great to radio listeners right now, but we doubt this format will sustain itself.

Hearing a Classic track from Chubb Rock, Wu-Tang or Dr. Dre is one thing if you hear it on a 5 o'clock mix or a weekend specialty show, but it's a whole other ballgame when it's on all the time. The question remains if there are enough "hit" songs to fill this format without it becoming repetitive to listeners. The other missing element that many of these stations will soon need to complete this format will be to add personalities that compliment the format. That will not be an easy task to do simply because radio has de-emphasized the importance of the on-air personality and "who" from that classic hip hop radio era is still doing radio? (We see a lot of Voice Tracking on the horizon) However this format has to be more attractive to advertisers hoping to get the more desirable demographics in the 30-40 age range compared to a younger skewing Hip Hop format. So let's see where this goes.

What's your thoughts on Jammin'...oops Classic Hip Hop radio?    

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