Letters To The Editor-July '98

Has College Radio Fallen Off

These letters are in response to an editorial about the state of hip hop and radio.. It's interesting to see just how bad radio is around the world when it comes to hip hop...


It was disheartening for me to read "Has college radio fallen off?" From 1990-1994 I did college radio promotions from the Bay to Seattle for Sony music. I never asked a MD to keep an artist in heavy rotation, I never told anyone when we were "going for adds" true, it's about building a relationship, but first and foremost it's about the music. When I worked for Sony, we had the Deep Cover Sdtk, the first Cypress Hill Record, LL, PE, Funkdoobiest, Slick Rick, all artists that college radio loved. It was a fun job seeing how excited people were the first time they heard Cypress Hill. But the playlists consisted of a little bit of every thing. That was the beauty of college radio. Of course there have always been those at college stations that knew they had power, and played the game. At that time, if you were the only guy in your area playing hip-hop, of course you'd be big man on campus.

It's a shame that it's taken such a twist, that the love of hip-hop no longer drives DJ's to dig a little deeper, to discover the next Cypress Hill in their own backyard. It used to be that college radio guys told the wack radio promo guy to fuck off that you wouldn't be playing his stupid record and to kiss your ass. That's why it was important for me not to push anything down people's throats. College radio had an attitude, an aggressive pursuit for hip-hop, and major label reps and their shitty PM Dawn records were not going to be played. I think back to Mike Nardone who was the first person to play me Cypress Hill. They were a local LA group, and came to KXLU to be on "We Came From Beyond." Mike was so excited about Cypress, you'd thought he'd won the lottery. He helped a local artist blow up. People like Mike, Bobbito, Beni B, DJ Toast, Mayhem, Emz, they all had that edge. Maybe college radio guys today should take lessons from them. Call them up and ask them for advice. Don't let major labels pimp you into playing the same thing that can be heard with a twist of the dial.

As far as radio in Seattle, it's the worst I've ever heard. We have KUBE a "churban" station, whatever the hell that is suppossed to mean, that still has Montell Jordan "This is How We Do It" and that crappy song "Return Of The Mack" in rotation. We did just get a new Urban station KKBY that is 100 times better, they have real live mix shows on the weekend, but the signal is week and it's hard to tune in. And college radio? It lost it's appeal to me years ago, when they started narrowing their field. Who keeps hip-hop alive in Seattle? Conception Records, Funkdaddy, DMS, DJ B Mello, DVONE, it's about the underground baby.



This is in response to your questions about radio stations. I live in 'Hotlanta' and most local artist don't have a chance to shine at all. We have hot 97 but they are just like every other hip hop station, only playing 10 songs, 5 Bad boy and 5 No Limit. Even the Goodie Mob don't really get no play on our stations. We have V-103 but I don't no what they play because they're so bad that I don't even check to see what they play. The only time we get real flavor is on the weekend on WRAS 88.5. This station plays music from everywhere. I heard Rasco's first two cuts over a year ago. Actually, I did the edits on "The Unassisted". Anyway, the problem with 88 is that they are only on the weekends for a short few hours. the rest of the time, they have a regular rotation that contains some hip hop, but is mainly for underground 'alternative music.'

Derrick Logan

Davey D

Welcome to the really Dirty South (ATL)!! Let's start off with the new station down here (97.5). In the begin we truly thought there was hope, we would have quality hip hop daily. 97.5 in the first year really gave raw in your face Hip Hop, yes "but" since the year anniversary they sadden me daily with all the commercial rotation. We are back to college radio to soothe our hip hop craving.

College radio in ATL has changed over the years with 97.5 coming to the area. In the beginning college radio felt they had to compete with 97.5, being the monopoly for so long. Now college radio in Atlanta is getting back to the basic they are truly give use heads what need. Must give props to 88.5 giving assortment of hip hop from coast to coast (respect do)(week-end wrecking crew). Must not forget 89.3 community radio and 91.9 truly represents true music. I luv ya (SWAT) ,Decatur ,East point, Stone Mountain and Gwinnett.

Tuesday T


Hotep Dave,

I'm a sista down in Houston, Texas and as a listener to radio, I have to say that props should go out to TSU's radio station 90.9 KTSU. Texas Southern University radio while not exclusively Hip Hop has a good Saturday format. They play local rap artists and music that I never hear on commercial radio.

On the other hand one of the only 2 commercial radio stations targeting people of color is so wack. 97.9 The Box does not play anything original or fresh. Its always the most popular hits back to back to back. After listening to the good local stations in Dallas, New Orleans and Shreveport I can't begin to understand why Houston radio is so weak.

On a side note the local latino (KHYS 98.5) station recently changed its format from old school rap, R&B and dance music w/ creative dj's and innovative styles to a watered down "continuous hits" format. Now they sound like the several other "crossover-appeal" stations.

If a stations intent is to target a particular listening audience why then would they change a seemingly successful show and risk losing that audience? Just rhetorical, I think I already know the script on that.

Yaa A


You mentioned college/underground jocks who play the industry game, but you neglect to mention the many "coalitions" who take this game to another highly corrupted level sometimes. Actions such as extorting street promotion money for 'adds', asking for fax machines, RIAA placques, etc. College/underground radio is supposed to be about the music, not money. That is why it is non-commercial. Yes we break records, especially in markets like mine (Albany, NY) with no commercial urban station. But if you want to make some money off of the music, do something else, like commercial radio or management or start a label/record store/record pool, etc. But don't front like you are a college DJ and then try to make money off of it.

I have been DJ'ing college radio since Jan.15, 1989 and solely for the love of it; no money. I have a job outside of the industry that pays my bills. Sincerely,
-DJ Toast


I am from Richmond VA and the only "black" format radio station here is Power 92. 85% of the music they play is R&B. The other 15% is radio hip hop: Bad Boy, Tupac, Wyclef, Will Smith etc. There is NO underground hip hop, no "real hip hop". The only hip hop shows are friday & saturday nights from 9 - 12, and they still play mostly only booty shaking dance crap, no hip hop with real concious content and true hip hop beats - Give me my Mos Def, Rasco, Dialated Peoples, Pharoah Monche, etc... There are several colleges in the area, all of which have hip hop fans - yet, there are no college hip hop radio shows. So the bottom line is that there is NO hip hop radio in Richmond. None. Period. SO is there no hip hop here? Of course there is. It is circulated via mix tapes, live shows and house parties. Our hip hop community strives and survives without radio. We have accepted it and gotten used to it. I simply don't listen to the radio. I wish I could afford to start an all hip hop radio station here like they are out on your coast!

Richmond, VA


Davey D,

At the end of this newsletter you asked if local radio stations are doing their part in representin' Hip Hop. The 2 stations you mentioned for L.A. (KKBT 92.3 The Beat & KPWR Power 106) for the most part play what is popular at the time. But as far as The Beat is concerned, I feel it is doin' its part because it has certain segments during the day when it play strictly Hip Hop. For example, one of the evening dj's, Julio G. (6pm-10pm) has an hour segment at 9pm called Strictly Hip Hop, he has Battle of the Beats (90% of the time these are up & coming Hip Hop artists), and he has a show called West Side Radio on Friday nights. But the best is The Wake Up Show. These brothas (Sway & Tech) represent to the fullest! Everytime I hear their show, there is always somethin' new that's keeps my on my toes. Also, a lot of the big name L.A. rappers are now mixin' it up with Bay Area artists (I'm sure you know this), and L.A. artists are makin' appearances on albums for other L.A. artists. So a lotta big names are doin' their share to help the lesser known rappers come up in L.A. That's it for now! I'm out!

T Xavier


While keeping in mind that Chicago has never been much of a "hip hop city", hip hop had, at one point, been kept alive by the college radio stations WHPK (out of Univ of Chicago) and WNUR (out of Northwestern Univ). WHPK used to have to censorship so the grooves were raw! The other stations and their followers would probably beg to differ but I DO know my music and stations like KKC, OUI and CRX, as phat as they were, played more house than anything else.

I would go so far as to say WHPK trailblazed rap radio for Chicago with JP Chill (check out his Dusty Grooves website) and Chilly Q. Now, in 1992 there was an AM radio station playing true hip hop, from old school to hardcore to local grooves. This was on 950 AM and that's what it was called - 950 AM. It was fantastic but the only drawback was this: you could only get it in your car within a certain driving perameter. 950 was the experimental baby of a corporate monster trying to see if hip hop could appeal to more than the "heads".

It did, they fired the DJs (they were getting paid like $6.50/hr and some had no license) and put the station on FM as 106 JAMS - "Where Hip-Hop Lives" - which was bullshit because they all together stopped hip hop as it's respected form. That meant no more underground, no more local, no more dope lyricists or production, just straight mainstream. This happened in 1994 and in 1997, 106 JAMS went off the air. Their lack of presence has not made one bit of difference at all, just to show you how they did nothing innovative, fresh or new. Now there is Lionel, a DJ for Energy 88 (out of Loyola University)...he even uses The Figure's (local group) hit tune as his opener (DOPE!!!). He is definitely keeping it REAL although it's very hard to get him in the crib, I will go to the car to get him on Saturday nights, from 8-10:30. Big ups to that kid!

Rickey X


Hey man,

I thought i'd let you know about the hip hop here in ann arbor, right outside of detroit. I know that many of the "real" (non top 40) heads out here are really turned off by WJLB 97.9 and WCHB 105.9. WCHB was really nice when the first came out, playing less commercial stuff like Jeru tha damaja for example, while WJLB is really commercial. Now WCHB has moved way closer to WJLB's stance, playing more commercial music, but they still try and mix it up more than WJLB is doing. I think the big dog here is still WJLB, WCHB is gettingh a fair market share though, i think. I personally like WCHB better, mostly because I like the dj's better.

Despite the wackness, WJLB and WCHB are still the main places that local hip hop artists go to try and get their exposure. There are some small radio station in detroit that are "kepping it realer" compared to WJLB and WCHB, but they are pretty low wattage. As far as college radio and hip hop here in ann arbor, the only hsows are on really late (3 am) and most people tune into 105. and 97.9 to get their hip hop anyways.

Mohammad Tanvir Rahman


We have a horrendous commerical station which I despise called Jam'n 94.5, WJMN or WJAM or some shit, which plays the worst of the worst. An average hour goes like this:

Big Pun/Joe (good song but heavily played out) Puffy,Mase/Camron,Usher, Brandy Repeat twice.

Luckily, we also have 88.9, WERS, weekdays 8 PM-11 PM, a gift from God. They have been keeping it real (I can't believe I just said that) for about five years or so. They play a wide variety of Hip-Hop-underground, local, and a little commercial stuff because of requests. They never play out a song and have DJs that are intelligent and respectable as well as humorous, a rare find these days. They also play a descent amount of West Coast acts too, like the Likwit Crew. However, they play nothing from the south. I don't think I've ever heard an OutKast, Goodie Mob, or even No Limit track played on that station. Oh well, nothing is perfect I guess. I pray this station won't become another Jam'n.

There are a few other nifty shows on the air, but are on weird days and have strange hours. Peep the article The Source did on Boston a few months back, I think either January or March.

The PHAnTom


Ok..philly radio. it is cool. we have bahamadia holdin it down of fri. nights with "the b sides" and colby colb has been representing real hip hop for a long time. i just wish that we had a 24 hour underground or just all hip hop station. think it'll happen??



Majic 105 here in St. Louis (Jacor Broadcasting, I think) also uses the motto "Where Hip-Hop Lives", even though the vast majority of the time if you turn it on you'll hear some R&B jams, or if they play rap it's tired old stuff that's probably played out even on MTV. This stations been around for a long time (I believe 20 or 30 years), and used to be great, was never a hip-hop only station (but never claimed to be). Would only play rap at night on the weekends, but was good about playing NEW stuff and giving support to local rappers. I think the station was sold a year or two ago because thats when it turned a 180 and became wack as hell. Now you won't hear anything new, and they are followers playing only what becomes a hit on MTV or BET (which are by no means leaders worth following). "The boy is mine" is their #1 jam today in the countdown among other similar songs (http://www.majic105fm.com/10phat1s.htm); a bit out of place on a station that's supposed to be the home of hip-hop....

We've got a community radio station KDHX 88.1 (http://www.kdhxfm88.org. that has a dope hip-hop show on friday nights by DJ Alejan & Da Fly DX that plays all the new and underground (though mostly 'east-coast style' but not limited to that), and does its part to help uplift hip-hop in this community. Freestyle battles among listeners over the phone. Also there is Sylvester The Cat's show early sunday morning that plays a different kind of music than the friday show, a mix of hip-hop/dance/r&b but also is very good about bringing up local artists and playing stuff that's not taken right off Billboards top 10. They've been the salvation of hip-hop listeners in this town for over 10 years and hopefully will continue to be, finances willing. I believe they also have a video show on public access cable TV on certain cable companies in the metro area...

I'm sad to read that this isn't just happening here, but all over. It seems to me that the big time radio station owners have realized rap can mean big money for them and they are absorbing these stations and making them play the most popular songs regardless of how well they fit the station or it's former objectives. Make money first, worry about serving the community's wants second. Why do we even have more than 1 radio station in every city if they're all going to play the same 10 songs over and over 24/7 ? It seems the program managers (or whoever they are getting their orders from) need to get a reality check and quit serving up this garbage. It's been said for centuries that money is the root of all evil, and the greed and the need to make more money seems to be at the heart of this problem. They're probably making more money but have lost a core of very loyal hip-hop listeners whose mouths are watering for a decent radio station. Hasn't hip-hop always been about breaking free of the commercial-pop music and flipping it back on the underground tip? Maybe rap on commercial radio was never meant to be? Maybe the college and community radio is where hip-hop REALLY lives.


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