By: Erika Minnix
Power 98.3 & 96.1’s Program Director, Jonathan Steele, discusses in’s & out’s of what it takes to run a successful hip-hop and R&B station. Many factors are at play behind the scenes in choosing what songs make it onto the radio.
Radio stations compete daily against streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Sound Cloud, etc.). In a digital time of instant gratification and unlimited music at our fingertips due to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Sound Cloud, radio stations have to find creative ways to engage listeners and not immediately connect their Bluetooth.
Sometimes the Bluetooth won’t connect, or your phone might be dead. What do you do then? You won’t sit silently during your commute; you turn on the radio.
Social media’s impact has altered how music has become streamed. Previously, you would have to listen to the radio to see what was trending. Now you tune in to hear your favorite songs. Music streaming platforms resemble each other’s formats. Surprisingly enough, as popular as Spotify is, Apple Music is a hip-hop radio station’s most significant competitor in streaming.
There is no set time for how long it takes to get discovered, signed, and have records receive air time. Record labels continuously seek the next prominent artist to promote using platforms such as TikTok or Instagram. Both of these platforms have made attention spans 15 seconds or shorter. To gain traction, artists must keep up with trending sounds and create fast, catchy hooks to stay relevant. As quickly as the music industry changes, artists are only as hot as their latest single.
A successful program director is aware that listeners are opposed to listening to the radio because of song repetition. Although that might be true, songs are played multiple times throughout the day. Program directors are also aware listeners are not listening to the radio 24/7; therefore, they play songs various times throughout the day to captivate market listeners on their morning and evening commutes. People are commuting from one place to the next at all times of the day.
In music radio, program directors create a playlist for 15-minute listening intervals. In those 15 minutes, the radio station needs to appeal to most market listeners. Factors influencing the songs played include record label deals, national and local charts, and social media traction.
Music streaming platforms don’t offer opportunities to win amazing prizes such as concert tickets or meet and greets, or other memorabilia as radio stations do.
Another critical reason people continue to tune into radio stations is the on-air host’s personable effect on the community. Listeners seek insight into someone’s life, feeling connected. That’s why they stay tuned into the radio station. To get that sense of relatability on-air personalities portray.
Radio is not dead; radio is alive and well!
Power 98.3& 96.1 would not be the station it is today without the help of listeners like you! Thank you for making Power 98.3 &96.1 the place where hip-hop lives.