Hip Hop
and the
Politics of Radio

Essential Articles on Radio and Hip Hop

Over the past few years there have been a number of well heeled media campaigns led by Hip Hop activists-with the goal of reform and completely changing the current dismal state of corporate owned radio. We suggests reading up on some of these advocacy groups as well as becoming familiar with the most prominent music industry trade publications....

  • HipHopLivesHere.com This is home to the Reach Campaign that help spearheaded the charge against New York's Hot 97.They have lots of information about the campaign and their on going fight to improve media that impacts the Hip Hop community.

  • Industry Ears
    This is a Washington DC based organization made up of industry insiders who have been very successful in bringing heat to the industry. On their website you will find an official secure FCC complaint form which we encourage you to fill out if you are unhappy and offended by local radio..

    The following are music industry trade publications.. We suggest one read these in order to become familiar with the key movers and shakers in the industry so you know who and how to deal with them. In other words don't get caught slipping.

  • Kurt Hanson Internet Radio NewsletterThis is the definitive site for alternative, Internet based broadcast media. It is a daily must read if you are truly serious about pro-active media reform.
  • AllAccess.comThis is the premier industry insider web-site where folks go to find out all the latest happenings in commercial radio.
  • Radio and Records
    This is considered one of the industry Bibles. It gives the run down on all the latest news and views impacting the broadcast industry.
  • The National Association of Broadcasters This is the official trade publication that governs the broadcast industry. Obviously these guys support media consolidation and other types of legislation which goes against the interest of listeners.. But you need to read them to know what they are up to...

    2005 Important Media Articles

  • Hot 97-NY's Number One Station For Blazin' Hip Hop & Racism
  • Message to Hot 97: Hip Hop is All About Skillz
  • Hot 97 Sings, Asians Scream and the Politicians Lean Back.
  • Hot 97's Morning Show Todd Lynn Talks w/ Hip Hop Music.com
  • DJ Kuttin Kandi Puts Racist Hot 97 on Blast

  • A Brief History of Hip Hop and Radio

    This is a short introduction to all the articles that are listed below. It gives a brief run down of turbulent relationship between Hip Hop and Commercial radio...We encourage folks to get some additional background by reading about the accomplishments of Jack the Rapper and Jocko Henderson-who were two Black radio pioneers who proceeded modern day rappers.
  • Jack the Rapper: The Father of Black Radio
  • Jocko Henderson: The First Rapper

  • Urban Radio Rage: How Clear Channel Wrecked KMEL by Jeff Chang

    This is a recent article that appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian which lays out the way Clear Channel Communications ruined one of the country's most influential and powerful Hip Hop/urban/Top40 radio stations-106 KMEL. It talks about the lack of airplay for local artists, a recent report issued by the Youth Media Council and other issues that have bred a climate of dissatisfaction
  • Is KMEL The People's Station? by Youth Media Council

    This is an in depth 14 page report that attempts to assess the relationship between the landmark SF urban radio station KMEL and the larger community of color it serves. The report found there were some serious discrepancies ranging from the type of music played to the lack of accessibility from local rap artists and the lack of diverse messages in their public affairs shows. This is a ground breaking report put together by the Youth Media Council and members of the Bay Area's Hip Hop community... by Youth Media Council-12/02

  • KMEL The Station That Owes Us by Rashida Askey Petrovich
  • Clear Channel: The Media Mammoth That Stole the Airwaves by Jeff Pearlstein

    This article gives a detailed and very clear break down radio giant Clear Channel and its practices....
  • Hip Hop's Ultimate Battle: Race and the Politics of Divide and Conquer by Davey D
    This is a lengthy article that gives a historical overview of how commercial radio has under the guise of doing business have used marketing techniques to divide people by race. It also talks about how pop/Top 40 radio stations economically undermined Black/urban stations and forced them away from Hip Hop. This article talks about the reasons why Black radio stations started calling themselves urban contemporary
  • Latinos Are Hip Hop's Biggest Supporters by Davey D
    This articles focuses on the recent findings that Latinos are the country's biggest purchasers of rap music. It also focuses on the politics within commercial radio that have effectively separated Latino rap artists from their African American brethren. Around the country you have urban radio stations that have been told by their corporate management not to play rap music from artist like Kid Frost, Lighter Shade of Brown and The Mexicanz. The reason being is because their sister station is targeting the Latino community and they do not want any confusion or overlap.
  • LA's Power 106 Comes Under Fire For Playing Shady Sheist by Davey D
    This article focuses on the recent discovery that LA's top radio station Power 106 was playing an artist named Shady Sheist an inordinate amount of times. What the public did not know was that Shady Sheist was produced by the radio station's assistant program director and that his record label was owned by the parent company Emmis Broadcasting.
  • Funkmaster Flex: Is He Guilty of Payola? by Davey D
    Funkmaster Flex of NY's Hot 97 is considered to be the most influential and most powerful deejay in the world. In recent days he's come under fire and accused of taking money to play songs-payola. Among his accusers are popular rap artists like Nas and KRS-One who went on record to say he paid Flex 40 thousand dollars to have a record play and only got one spin. This article focuses on those allegations as well as highlights an open letter that was sent to the Senate about Flex's activities. The NYPD decided not to pursue charges against Flex.
  • Clear Channel Radio's Big Bully by Erich Boehlert

    This is an insightful multi-part landmark series that appears on Salon.com that gives a definitive break down about Clear Channel Entertainment. This is the huge media conglomerate that owns most of the country's radio stations and concert venues....
  • Pay for Play-Why Does Radio Suck?
  • Fighting for Pay to Play
  • Clear Channel: The Tough Company
  • More Shake Ups in the Radio Biz
  • Suit: Clear Channel is an Illegal Monopoly
  • Rock-n-Radio Rumble

  • Meet The New Press: The Consolidation of Media by Camille T Taiara

    This article focuses on how media corporations are spending big money in D.C. so it can give you less news. And it's found a very good friend in FCC chair Michael Powell
  • Big Media Has a Friend In FCC Chairman Michael Powell by Janine Jackson
  • Payola and Radio Consolidation by Broad Artist Coalition

    This is an important letter/article that focuses on the reasons why media consolidation has been a bad thing. It talks about the ways radio stations circumvent strict rules forbidden payola. It also focuses on Clear Channel Communications being a major offender and violator of various laws...
  • The Crackdown on Internet Radio by Davey D

    This article gives the 4-11 on why the RIAA and major record labels are trying their best to shut down Internet Radio. It has a lot to do with derailing potential competition as opposed to curtailing Internet piracy...4/26/02
  • How Radio Really Works: The Crackdown on Internet Radio pt 2 by Davey D
    Ever wonder why you have to hear the same 10 records on your local radio station day in and day out? This article breaks down some of the politics behind the way records get played. It also concludes why the RIAA is attempting to shut down Internet Radio..4/26/02

    A Brief History of Hip Hop and Commercial Radio

    by Davey D

    To truly understand the history of Hip Hop one has to acknowledge and truly understand the sorted relationship it has long had with commercial radio. Right off the bat we have to note that one of the underlying factors that gave birth to Hip Hop expressions was the monumental changes that took place in the early 70s on Black radio in New York City.

    First you had radio stations discouraging on air personalities from talking too much. The slogan 'more music/less talk' started to emerge around this time. This of course was stifling to many within the Black community who had come to depend upon the chatterbox style of bigger than life personas of these disc jockeys. Names like Jack the Rapper, Daddy O, Al Benson, Magnificent Montague and Philadelphia's Jocko Henderson who is considered the true father of rap, are a few of the names that immediately come to mind. In fact the first official recorded 'rap recorded 'King Tem III-Personality Jock' by the Fatback Band was actually inspired by the rhyme legacy laid down by those early Black radio deejays.

    To show you how deep this connection goes to Hip Hop, Jocko Henderson who came from Philadelphia which is also home to the Hip Hop's first graf writer- Cornbread, was best known as a showman who used to rhyme words during his shift. He become so popular that he would send tapes of his famous Ace of Rockets show to other radio stations around the country. One of the stations was in Miami, Florida. His show could be heard loud and clear off the coast of Florida in Jamaica. The cats in Jamaica picked upon Jocko's rhyming style and attempted to mimic him in what became known as toasting or dub talkover. Famous reggea deejays like U-Roy became known for rhyming. They in turn influenced another famous deejay named Kool Herc who is considered the Father of Hip Hop

    Secondly, you had the removal of funk and soulful music as defined by popular artists like Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and The Barkays only to have it replaced by formulized watered down disco which was done by white rock-n-roll singers like Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger.

    All this was done by Black radio stations in their attempt to appeal to a 'whiter' more affluent audience in order to satisfy new standards and ratings criteria set up by Madison Avenue advertising firms. They went from rewarding attractive ad buys to the station with the most listeners [which was usually Black stations] to the station with the 'richest' listeners which was usually white.

    As a result Black radio stations stop calling themselves 'Black' in order to mask their true identity and avoid any sort of negative connotation. They adapted the 'all inclusive' term 'Urban Contemporary' which is used to this day.

    Over the years Hip Hop has endured a tumultuous relationship with radio that has been addressed in both songs and interviews. Hip Hoppers were angry with radio for not playing them and when they finally did play them, they got angry because they found the music and culture being exploited, maligned and misused. The end result has left people from coast to coast up in arms with movements demanding accountability and reform springing up in places like NY, The SF Bay Area, Detroit and other cities.

    Listed above are a number of articles that will educate you about radio as well as give you insight into the going ons of what still remains one of the world's most popular and impactful tools of mass communication-Radio

    Go to Hip Hop and Radio Table of Contents

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