I sometime listen in on B96.3 to see what they’re playing. And I noticed recently that the station has shifted it’s playlist to identical that of 101.3 KDWB. It no longer focuses exclusivly on rap and hip hop. I have a 14-year-old little brother with Big Brother Big Sisters and he lamented the fact now that B96.3 has changed, there no station playing rap anymore and there’s nothing for him and his friends to listen to except their mp3 players.
I tried to explain to my little brother that the reason is probably because advertisers don’t pay much for the ears of African American folks but love teenage white kids in the suburbs. (See comments.) I’m not suggesting it’s a racial decision, but it does leave and whole demographic group without anything on the radio and is another reason for my little brother to feel a bit devalued. I do wonder how other African American folks are reacting and if they’re as bummed as some of the people I’ve talked with.
There’s always KMOJ 89.9, but that caters to an older African American audience. (My little brother said he would never listen to that station–his mother does, though.)
A few points to steer the discussion toward the constructive. As Pioneer Press reporter Amy Gustafson noted, B96’s ratings have gone up since the format switch to Top 40. However, that also coincided with a signal upgrade.
Also, I’m sure we all know that not just African Americans listen to rap and hip hop — my son’s mp3 player bears witness to this. So it’s probably safer to assert rap and hip hop fans are left “without anything on the radio” — though clearly, Ben’s little brother and his pals may station-surf less than others and they probably feel the loss more acutely.
Anyway, reactions, opinions, assertions welcome and encouraged. Is there good rap and hip hop bouncing around the airwaves in some overlooked place? Could some other station make hay by picking up the format, which did get better ratings than many stations before the switch? Are African American ears devalued by bloodless commerce?