Why Local Hip Hop Stations, Too Scared to Innovate, Will Lose Listeners
"If it weren’t for coming standard in every car on the road, radio would be obsolete, its slow and grueling death following the path of print, accelerated by Soundcloud and Spotify."
FROM THE ARTICLE: Confessions of a Dallas Radio Promotions Assistant BY:RODNEY BLU @RodneyBlu
When I first heard and then broke the news of a certain North Texas radio station’s format change in November 2014, I could barely contain my excitement. The fact that this station was one of two frequencies testing a classic hip-hop genre reconfiguration had me belly-down on the floor, tuning my receiver dial back and forth like the days before the internet, before television. I’d broken out an old notepad, drawn a skewed line down the middle of a page and began to timestamp and record each station’s selection, on and on for hours, with the mission of determining the better, more true-to-form of the two.
By the time I’d made my judgment, I’d written two articles—one announcing the switch and the other, my case for the best of the two. For a freelance journalist, especially one whose true talent is his speech (writing comes as a more labor-intensive collateral), writing one story is enough work to dust your hands off and kick your feet up. To write two, and commit both to print? That’s the type of obsession-bordering-on-devotion one only has for something they’d much rather be doing instead.
So I stopped writing.
In supplying the article with enough facts to support my tizzied opinions and speculations, I’d contacted what I determined was the better of the two radio stations for comment, and—one thing leading to another—was ultimately offered a job. No, not as an on-air personality, but in the promotions department, the sort of first-stop, entry-level initiation phase of a radio career.
Now, there are plenty of success stories that have come out of promotions departments. Yes, my primary objectives outlined on Day One were driving that obnoxious station-stamped vehicle to and from contracted promotions, being one of the many shared social media handlers, and tending hand-and-foot to the REAL STARS, the on-air jocks.
But people like Rocsi Diaz, of 106 & Park, Entertainment Tonight, and HLN acclaim, began in the promotions department. Scottie Beam created such a formidable online platform as a promotions assistant at Hot97 in New York that she’s now known as a digital personality, and as a result, has 23,000 followers on Twitter and a booking email. And although I’d been explicitly warned that my position was not, in any shape or form, a launching pad to being the city’s newest on-air personality—“especially in a Top 5 market like Dallas,” a statement I tried not to roll my eyes at—I was also encouraged go outside my job description and capitalize upon the talents that got me hired in the first place: my experience in journalism and familiarity with the local rap scene.
I was prepared to earn my stripes, to be a scrub long enough to prove my true value. And within the confines of my position, I did just that. I connected with the personalities and the folks in corporate. I added value to the social media, driving web traffic to the radio. I even introduced the upper rungs to first-viral, ...
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