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May 5, 2019

The Quiet Storm, Urban Radio's Most Successful Format Still Going Strong

Pictured here is Jeff Brown the host of The Quiet Storm on 96.3 WHUR. The format was created at WHUR by then Advertising/Sales Manager Cathy Hughes and hosted by a station intern Mevin Lindsey in 1976 on Sunday nights. It has become a must have show throughout the country on Urban Adult Contemporary radio stations. Here are excerpts from the story behind The Quiet Storm from Vibe Magazine.

From the VIBE Magazine On Line Article [follow the link for the full article]

"Music Sermon: The Quiet Storm Is Still Brewing" by Naima Cochrane

For over 40 years, the Quiet Storm radio format has been such an institution in black music, we rarely give it thought. It’s just something that’s always been there, like old ladies’ church candy in purses – you don’t consider where it came from or why. But the Quiet Storm is an anomaly in radio, especially urban radio; a swiftly changing landscape over the last 30 years which has seen format changes, programming limitations, the growth of satellite, plus shifts to streaming. Yet this format remains consistent.

The article highlights a new sound and album that emerged from Smokey Robinson in 1975 ...

Inspired and intrigued by What’s Going On, Robinson found his solo stride with his 1975 album, The Quiet Storm. “As the title tune progresses, the sensuality of its lyrics and the loose, improvisational feel of the backup suggest that the album is going to be Robinson’s What’s Going On or Innervisions, a formula-defying statement of both personal and social import,” remarked Rolling Stone writer Robert Palmer in his album review. But Palmer also noted, “Robinson is moved neither by Marvin Gaye’s macho sensibilities nor by Stevie Wonder’s semimystical mental images, and he has more pop expertise than either.” This wasn’t music to inspire humanity, it was music to inspire the mood. Smokey was unknowingly once again laying a foundation for a black soul era.

The article then recounts the origin of the format in 1976 at Howard University's fairly new commercial radio station 96.3 FM WHUR. The station was donated to Howard in 1971 by The Washington Post.

A year following The Quiet Storm’s release, Cathy Hughes (founder of Radio One and TVOne), then director of Howard University’s radio station WHUR, tapped station intern Melvin Lindsay to step in last minute as substitute DJ for a Sunday night slot. Melvin filled his time with classic slow jam cuts, “WHUR was into jazz then, and I didn’t know a lot about jazz,” Lindsay later told the New York Times. “I played a lot of old, slow songs.” And because he was inexperienced and uncomfortable behind the mic, he only took a couple of talking breaks an hour. The phone lines lit up. Cathy had been looking for a format that would distinctly target the upwardly mobile, single black women in DC – she’d found it. She suggested Melvin name his show after Smokey’s title track, and use the song as an intro (“The Quiet Storm” is still used widely as a programming anthem for the format).

Image result for melvin lindseyAfter a few months, WHUR moved the program from weekends to every weeknight and rose to the top spot among urban stations in DC. Competitive station WKYS and their director of black programming, Donnie Simpson, hired Lindsay away and duplicated the program, then they became the leading urban station in DC. A format was birthed.

Our Note: Melvin Lindsey is the correct spelling of his name. Here he is pictured hosting a program on BET (Screen Scene). He would also fill-in on Video Soul for Donnie Simpson.

Here's the full article and a great read from VIBE Magazine

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