How Radio Really Works
The Crack Down on Internet Radio pt 2
by Davey D... 4/26/02

Let's look at all this realistically... How many of you cats who listen to Internet or college radio do so to hear Ja Rule or the latest Nelly /Justin Timberlake single or any other song that is being played 15 times a day on commercial radio? Most Internet/College cats are playing music you would never ever see the light of day on commercial radio. For example, next week I'm trying to play a lot of the material I got from heads I met in Chicago, Milawaukee, Baltimore and Boston. Sure I may play a Jay-Z record or a Nas cut, but for the most part I'm trying to make sure my listeners get to hear the entire spectrum of Hip Hop music that is being released and not a small sliver that has essentially been forced upon us by corporate media giants. At the same time I'm also trying to make sure some of the up and coming artists also get a chance to shine..

The fact that these artists I met in all these far off cities 3000 miles away can pick my radio show via the Internet is a good thing. Who knows maybe they'll even tell a few friends. I was real surpised at how many people actually heard my show via the Internet when I was on the road. I guess basic rules apply, I show them love they give me love back. If I play their material then they go out and tell all their friends about the show and the next thing I have a nice little following in Boston or Baltimore. Thank God for the Internet. It represents communication at its best.

Many of the people I come across are emphatically dissatisfied with what they are having to hear day in and day out on their local commercial radio stations. Many have gone through great lengths to rig up their home stereos to their computers and have it programmed so they can pick up Internet radio stations from all around the world. They punch to these stations the way others program traditional radio stations. So one dude will peep my show on Friday Nights and when I'm done he'll bounce to some other show out of Canada... Later on he'll peep some kid out of New Mexico etc. This Internet radio listener not only gets his music fix satisfied but he also gets to experience different culture and regional flava ranging from accents to local news, gossip and events. Internet listeners also get to peep others creative approach to presenting music.

For example, many college and Internet broadcasters try to educate their audience buy doing themes. A few weeks ago we did a show that focused on women artists. We played three straight hours of females ranging from Real Roxanne to Sista Souljah. Headz was loving it. My boy in Chicago who does the 'Time Traveler Show' spent 18 straight weeks doing thematic Hip Hop shows that highlighted the music and the landmark events of a particular year... He went from 1979 to 1998. Every show he immersed himself in a year. Listeners were treated to some serious history as well as good music. Still others will dedicate entire shows around particular genres of rap. This week its jazz based Hip Hop. Next week its rock based Hip Hop The week after its militant Afrocentric Hip Hop. etc.

Now do you honestly think the local commercial station in your area 'where Hip Hop lives' is going to play a ten year old Sista Souljah cut? Do you think that same 'Blazing Hip Hop' station is going to honor a phone call from an excited listener and honor his/her request to hear the song Sista Souljah did with Ice Cube? Y'all know the answer... 'Hell No!' There are some of you younger headz reading this article asking themselves 'who is Sista Souljah'? While others are asking 'she did a song with Ice Cube'? That goes to show how little exposure Hip Hop is given via commercial media. Do you honestly think Epic Records is running around tripping of sales of Sista Souljah records? Trust me they're not.. So if the local station ain't playing it and you can't even find it in the store where else are you gona hear it?- Internet or College radio.

Some more questions to ponder... Has your local commercial radio station played the new song by dead prez with Boots? Have you heard the new cut by Paris that has the George Bush speech? How about the new Mystic Journeyman? Have y'all peeped the new Rob DZ or Komikoze cut out of Madison and Milawaukee? Has your local station hipped you all the banging material coming out of Boise, Idaho? Heck have they even attempted to play the new Blackalicious with Gil Scott Heron?

Have any of you ever called up and tried to request those songs? Did you get a real DJ who was actually in the studio or did you get an intern trying to play it off like the jock was too busy to take your call? If you did get a jock on the line, did he tell you 'yes he'll play your song' and never play it? Did he /she at least tell you the truth which is they couldn't play the song until the program director scheduled it or give him permission. Did he tell you that your request was a song that he had to play anyway and through the magic of prerecorded phone calls he could make it seem like he was honoring your request? His job as a DJ was to create an illusion and make unsuspecting listeners believe that he was actually honoring your request right there on the spot? Did that friendly DJ break it down and tell you that ifyour request ain't Nelly, Jay-Z, Ja Rule then it ain't gonna be on them airwaves?

So let's forget the notion that the airwaves are supposed to service the community. Any radio station executive worth his salt will tell you straight up.. 'This is a business'. Their primary focus is to make money and maybe do a nice thing or two for the community in the process. Big commercial outlets do research and focus groups and 'bank account assessments' [don't let that remark go over your heads-it means make sure they got PAID], to determine what will get aired. They look at the research, check the demographics and decide whether or not they wanna appeal to Pookie on the corner who has no job or his older sista Loquecia who works at the bank.

Now lets say Pookie is feeling the new Talib Kweli cut but his sister is yearning for Tweet or Ashanti. Who do you think the local radio station is going to cater to? Some jobless cat on the corner or a female who has disposable income? Bingo! -You got it.. They're going to cater to Loquecia. Women with disposable income more times than not are the desired audience for these urban/Hip Hop commercial radio stations. Hence, if focus groups and research show that Loquecia and her girlfriends ain't feeling Talib Kweli.. Guess what? Talib ain't gonna get played except every so often in a late night mix show and that is only if that particular mixer is given permission and the station's 'bank account assessments' are in order. That's how radio business gets done.

So with that example in mind, what you have a situation where a whole bunch of folks are essentially 'ass out'. They don't fit the profile so they are forced to seek other sources to satisfy their musical fix. So lets say you're one of those cultured, Afrocentric, dashika wearing brothas who wants to hear some old X-Clan. Guess what bro, if the local station in your area is trying to appeal to your wife and she and other women like her don't like X-Clan then X-Clan ain't getting played no matter how many times you call. And let's be realistic. Lets say a station did bust out and play a classic song like 'Funkin Lesson' or 'Grand Verbalizer', Do you honestly want to have that followed up by P-Diddy and Loon? You most likely wanna hear that followed by an old UMC cut. But that is not gonna happen unless the research shows that your wife /girl is really feeling X-Clan and UMCs.

So with that being your reality you go out and look for alternative sources to get your music fix. Yeah you have the X-Clan album, but you don't really wanna hear 50 minutes of Professor X yelling 'Vanglorious This is Protected by the Red the Black and the Green'. You wanna hear X-Clan followed by Eric B and Rakim's 'Follow The Leader'. If you could record it and make your own tape you would do so, but guess what you can't. Either you don't have the Eric B cut nor does the record store down the street cause it's 15 years old.. Plus do you really wanna spend 15 bucks for one song? And just in case you happen to be balling out of control to the point that 15 bucks is nothing to you.. once you get home and try to record your CD you find out the record company made it so you can't record the music or play it on your PC.. So your stuck listening to 15 minutes of Eric B or 50 minutes of X-Clan and you spent 30 dollars for two songs..

Through the magic of music streaming music enthusiasts are no longer limited to waiting an entire week to hear that one specialty show that will play X-Clan and UMCs.. He can connect to all those similar type of shows all over the world..To me, that's a beautiful thing. To industry executives its their worse nightmare. It cuts into their marketing game plan. After all, they spent weeks and lots of money setting up and positioning an artist like Nelly, Ja Rule or Ashanti to be the next 'big thing' you run out and buy. If things don't pan out then cats are mad as hell and want to start blaming everyone... You can hear them crying 'It's the Internet's fault... It's Internet radio's fault. Those evil listeners are stealing the music.' It never occured to them that its their fault for releasing wack albums and now that listeners have alternative music sources they can bounce elsewhere. But the industry at times acts just like a drug cartel. They only want you get your supply from them.. So they are attempting at every turn to shut down and severly limit alternative music sources.. Not only will it hurt the listeners, but also all those independent artists who are getting absolutely no airplay on any of these big radio stations where 'Hip Hop Lives'.. Heck , lets really keep it real if there's any 'ripping off' going on it's not the Internet stations. Oftentimes piracy comes at the hands of unscrupulous distributers who have a pressing plant in the back room and decided to sell some cats music under the table and then they have the nerve to drag their feet about paying him for what little he did sell..

Think about what has been written and try not to let them shut you down!

written by Davey D


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