hip hop music

March 16, 2005

NY Times Feature on Hot 97 Protests

"We have run into a string of rotten luck here," says Emmis.

An Arbiter of Hip-Hop Finds Itself as the Target

...Hot 97, which is owned by the Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corporation, is the No. 2 station among listeners in New York City and has been No. 1 in the city's 18-34 demographic for nearly a decade. It earns an estimated $40 million annually in revenue, putting it in the top five of Emmis's 25 radio stations. But in recent months the station has been buried in bad publicity. Critics contend that Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) has tilted from credible arbiter of rap trends to ratings-hungry promoter of violence and racism.

Two weeks ago, gunfire erupted in front of Hot 97's Greenwich Village offices, shortly after 50 Cent announced on the air that he was booting his protégé, the Game, from his G-Unit clique. The incident, coincidentally, occurred on the first day of the rapper Lil' Kim's perjury trial, stemming from her account of a 2001 shoot-out in front of Hot 97. All of this follows the monthlong battering Hot 97 has endured for airing a song mocking victims of the tsunami tragedy.

The effect has pointed up, at the very least, how commerce on the cutting edge of hip-hop culture can go awry. And the recent events may impose another real-world price on the station: the landlord of the building that houses Hot 97 has threatened to oust the station, citing a track record of shootings, fights and "severe verbal abuse of security and building management personnel...."

...Meanwhile, local activists are calling for an overhaul of the station. Rosa Clemente, a leading organizer of an anti-Hot 97 rally held earlier this month, accused the station of promoting music filled with misogynistic and violent content. "They call themselves the place where hip-hop lives," she said, "but hip-hop does not live there. A culture of greed and disrespect lives at Hot 97." The Rev. Al Sharpton and several state and local lawmakers recently asked Federal Communications Commission to turn its attention to the station. And along with every other major radio broadcaster in the area, Emmis has received a subpoena from Eliot Spitzer, New York's attorney general, for information on its promotional practices.

"We have run into a string of rotten luck here," Mr. Cummings said in an interview, "but if you look at us over the last 17 years, I think the record is pretty stellar..."

Posted by jsmooth995 at March 16, 2005 1:02 AM

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