hip hop music

April 29, 2003

NY's Hip-Hop Radio War: Are there Winners or Losers?

I'm sure both of the corporate media conglomerates involved in this "battle" are doing just fine, but is the audience getting any benefit from this competition? Honestly I almost never listen to either station, so maybe those of you from NY can tell me, has their been any change in the quality and diversity of their playlists?

Hip-hop turf makes room for a new player

It's been a year since WWPR (105.1 FM) sauntered into town to start a hip-hop turf war with WQHT (97.1 FM) - and both sides say they're winners.
Moreover, they can both be right.

"There isn't just one size pie," explains program director Vinny Brown of WBLS (107.5 FM), which is also a player in hip-hop radio. "When another station comes in, the pie can get bigger."

In the January-March quarter of 2002, WQHT and WBLS between them averaged 10.3% of the city audience. In January-March this year, WQHT, WWPR and WBLS combined to average 12.6%.

Between WQHT and WWPR, which compete directly for the younger hip-hop core while WBLS mixes in more R&B, WQHT (Hot-97) has a clear lead.

Hot-97 is second overall in the city, averaging 5.1% of all listeners. WWPR (Power-105) is seventh, averaging 3.8%. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, Hot-97 is first with 10.2% and Power-105 third at 6.9%.

Last summer, the stations were almost tied. Since then Hot-97 has pulled ahead and while it is down from 6.1% a year ago to its 5.1% today, it has been moving up lately.

"What happened is exactly what I predicted," says Tracy Cloherty, WQHT program director. "They got some early sampling, then they fell back and we stayed right where we were - number one."

Even more gratifying, WQHT is now one of the top 10 stations in the country for ad revenue, suggesting Madison Avenue now sees hip-hop fans as a broad audience, not a bunch of wise-guy kids.

Advertising revenue is a big reason that Michael Saunders, program director of WWPR, says he, too, is a happy man.

"Our ratings are about what we projected," says Saunders. "We have a solid core and we're pleased. But our ad revenue has already exceeded our expectations."

From parent Clear Channel's perspective, Power-105 is an even bigger hit, because its ratings exceed those of WTJM (Jammin'), which it replaced last year.

But just in terms of hip-hop, Saunders says the last year was good for everyone. "It has invigorated the stations," he says. "And when that happens, the listeners win. I also think it shows the whole hip-hop world you can have a strong competition without bloodshed..."

Posted by jsmooth995 at April 29, 2003 3:19 PM

Weblog Archives