“The Voice of New York” to Find a New Microphone? Angie Martinez Resigns from Hot 97

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This one literally came out of nowhere!

At approximately 3:45 p.m. in the New York City area, Longtime WQHT-FM Hot 97 afternoon DJ Angie Martinez announced via her Twitter and Instagram that after 20-plus years on the Urban station that she was resigning from Hot 97.

“Today I resigned from Hot 97. I am grateful to the Emmis family for my time with the company and the immeasurable way that it has shaped my life. We made history in so many ways and I will cherish those memories and my friendships forever. This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but ultimately it is time to move on, to grow, and to be challenged in new ways. Saying goodbye is always emotional and bitter sweet, but I am extremely excited about the future. Thank you Hot 97 and most importantly…the listeners…for an unimaginable journey. Today will be my last show. Stay tuned….Love, Angie” –Angie Martinez via Instagram, June 18, 2014

Along with her Instagram post was a photo with the words “Life Has to Move Forward. Everything Has Its Time and Everything Ends.”

Such a move could not have come at a worse time for Emmis’ Hot 97. The company is expected to close on its purchase of Urban AC 107.5 WBLS and Gospel 1190 WLIB by the end of the year, but it is coming at a time where Hot 97 is in the throes of a perceived identity crisis inside the Tri-State area, among aficionados of Hip-Hop, and radio listeners.

In the May PPMs, Hot was still leading Power 105.1 by a margin of 3.5 to 3.2, but R&B WBLS (buoyed by the fact that it has had no real competitor since Emmis LMA’ed 98.7 Kiss to ESPN) is near the top of the NYC PPMs at a 5.6—ahead of both Hot and Power.
As far as Hot’s perceived identity crisis among hip-hop heads goes, it is said that while Power caters to more “hardcore” fans of hip-hop & R&B (The Breakfast Club—DJ Envy, Angela Yee, Charlamagne the God probably helps a lot as well), Hot has seemingly become too “Hot” for its own good. Critics contend that Hot has drifted too much into the territory of other stations that typically play the “hits” like WHTZ “Z-100”, WKTU “103.5 KTU”, WPLJ 95.5, and WNOW 92.3 Amp Radio.

Let’s call a spade a spade for just a second—in many ways, Angie Martinez CARRIED Hot 97. She was #1 in afternoons in market numero uno. In radio terms, that is an accomplishment, to say the least. That’s why I wouldn’t want to be an Emmis executive.
There’s no doubt about it that with Martinez leaving Hot 97 that their slim lead they have (per the May PPMs) over Power 105.1 will shrink or even evaporate completely. By how much is anyone’s guess, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the July PPMs in August for a clear picture on how that goes.

Tick…tick…tick…tick…tick

It’s also the second time that a major Gotham radio personality has taken an offer from “across the street”. Radio legend Scott Shannon (formerly from the True Oldies Channel and the “Scott & Todd” Morning show on ‘PLJ) left to become the new morning jock at heritage Oldies/Classic Hits 101.1 WCBS-FM.

Now, “The Voice of New York” will find a new microphone for said voice to be heard all throughout the Tri-State. But where?
Immediately, speculation ran like a flood of subway trains that Angie had also accepted an offer from across the street at Power 105.1. Already with The Breakfast Club and the perception that they’ve unseated Hot 97 as The Big Apple’s Hip-Hop station, for them to be the new home for “The Voice” would be huge…like, the Empire State Building.

In addition, there seems to be another wrinkle to this story that is not even being provided by Emmis or Clear Channel.

Think…Atlanta. More specifically, the Dickey Brothers.

Cumulus Media already were the owners of PLJ and Conservative News/Talk Information station WABC-AM 77. Plus, when Cumulus bought WFME 94.7 from Harold Camping’s Family Radio, they used it as the launching pad for the first of their many “Nash-FM” Country radio stations. Nash has since set up its state-of-the-art studios at its “Nash Campus” in Nashville at WKDF 103.3 and is emphasizing the Country lifestyle as well as the music.

Cumulus also happens to own a radio station in Westchester County at 103.9 WFAS that airs an Adult Contemporary format. There has been plenty of speculation about if Cumulus may move the 103.9 tower from White Plains and into The City.

That looks like it is about to happen as Cumulus seems to want to move the 103.9 out of the pricy NYC suburbs of Westchester and into The Bronx to target more of the Boroughs.

That would seem like it would be a perfect place for a new Alternative or Active Rock station in NYC, wouldn’t it? Especially since Gotham has been starving for a Modern Rocker since 101.9 was bought by (now defunct) Merlin Media and changed into an FM News Radio station—a move that turned out to be one of the biggest failures in New York City radio history.

Exactly.

101.9 is now owned by CBS Radio and is simulcasting 660 WFAN.

A random Twitter account was spotted under the tagline @radio1039NY. Does this mean a stunt, or the actual rebranding of the station? The brand “Radio” is more commonly used for Alternative, Active, and AAA Rock stations as well as CHRs. But given Amp’s struggles vs. Z and the fact that Cumulus already owns ‘PLJ, it is unlikely Cumulus tries a Q-100 (Atlanta) clone in Gotham.

As for the 103.9, the news regarding Angie Martinez broke at the exact same time that many observers and radio pundits remembered in the back of their collective noggins that Cumulus has plans for its 103.9.

And reports say that they do not include amps and electric guitars.

Rumors are running rampant that 103.9 may change its format to some variation of Urban and is a possible landing spot for Angie Martinez. Format wise, it would automatically be an assumption that the best fit for her would be Power 105.1.

Uh….not exactly.

103.9 could also go Mainstream Urban, but Cumulus would seemingly be only flipping said station to a Mainstream Urban outlet solely to market Angie Martinez as the face of the new station. Such an outlet would garner ratings in a New York minute given how popular she is around New York—and around the country.

But the station does not necessarily have to be Mainstream Urban to fit Martinez. Cumulus could change 103.9 into an Urban AC station ala ‘BLS and the old Kiss FM. When Kiss flipped to ESPN Radio, Martinez tweeted about her fandom of Kiss FM.

In addition, Urban radio disc jockeys regularly transition to Urban AC and Urban Oldies stations later in their careers. This is partly because being a 40+ or 50+ year old on a Mainstream Urban station is not exactly a good fit. In addition, they do it themselves for the sole purpose of reconnecting with their audience that listened to them early on in their Mainstream Urban days, that thanks to age and the changes in the music business, were probably no longer listening to Hip-Hop and were transitioning themselves to R&B/Urban AC/Oldies stations.

Rick Party was a popular DJ on Chicago’s WGCI 107.5 (Urban) for many years. Now, he does afternoon on WHQT Hot 105 in Miami—an Urban Oldies outlet owned by Cox.

Ed Lover (of Yo! MTV Raps and “C’mon Son!” fame) had stints on Hot 97 and Power 105 before accepting a weekend DJ gig on 98.7 Kiss FM as the host of “Friday Night Flava”. He now does a show six days a week on Sirius XM’s Old School Hip Hop channel, Backspin.
So it would not be unusual if Martinez went the same path—to an Urban AC on a 103.9, if Cumulus flips 103.9 to Urban AC and if that’s where Martinez ends up.

But such a move would come at an almost unbelievable time for Cumulus. They would flip a 103.9 to Urban AC—a second Urban AC. The Tri-State has not had a second Urban AC since the Kiss flip.

Also, Cumulus seemingly wants one major Urban personality while making life anything but a smooth broadcast for another. They are suing former nationally syndicated afternoon drive-time host Michael Baisden for an estimated $1 million according to reports. The suit alleges that Baisden and his production company were paid for over a year after he left.

There is no market that Baisden coveted more than New York City, even as a native Chicagoan. As time drifted closer and closer to the cancellation of his show by Cumulus Media Networks, Baisden was hemorrhaging affiliates, including a Radio One station in Dallas at 94.5 K-Soul that shifted its format from Urban AC to Urban Oldies “Old School 94.5” (that has since reverted back to the K-Soul name). A Clear Channel outlet in Philadelphia (105.3 WDAS) also stopped airing his show.

When Kiss flipped to ESPN, Baisden began an on-air and social media campaign to get WBLS to pick up his show. Some of Kiss’s hosts were successful in moving over to ‘BLS, including late-night host Lenny Green, but ‘BLS never tapped the syndied Baisden for afternoons.

Baisden was let go without even being allowed to do a week’s worth of shows to say goodbye to his audience. He has since been replaced in afternoons by D.L. Hughley. Baisden has since gone on to put more emphasis on his endeavors as a motivational speaker and author.

There is even talk that perhaps Martinez may link up with Sean “Puffy” Combs and become a host of her own show on his “Revolt TV” channel. The “bossip” site…well, called Bossip has a supposed exclusive on its website saying Martinez already has accepted an offer to go “across the street” to Power 105.1.

But that is a tabloid site, of course, along the lines of Media Take Out. I prefer to be patient and “esperate” (wait) for official word from either a station or from Angie herself.

That remains to be seen, if it is Power, the new Urban at 103.9, Revolt, or someplace else. One thing is for sure—wherever “The Voice of New York” is heard, New York is likely to listen.

Oh, one more thing as an abrupt P.S.: Dare I say that, Angie, your loyal fans “will go, contigo” wherever it is you are. Anyone forget that she also gave us this circa 2002? Around the same time that Power debuted on New York radio after flipping from “Jammin’ Oldies”

Wonder how much Power played it at the time. They ought to now if she’s heading across the street from Hot 97!

Boston’s Evolution Ends at a High Point for EDM

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My ears began noticing something circa 2010 that was happening to Top 40/CHR radio.

I began noticing that the BPM of the songs that are played on Top 40 CHR radio began to increase…and increase…and increase.
And increase.

I have always been an advocate of Dance music on American radio. This is partly because I am such a huge fan of the dance music that came out of the 90’s before it Finding such Dance stations on the radio in other countries is not hard—especially European countries. In Europe, Dance is one of the most popular musical genres there is on the radio.

Usually, because of the corporate structure of many radio stations, dance has made inroads into radio only to see those inroads reach dead ends. Whether it’s the “Energy 92.7 and 101.1” in Phoenix, “Energy 92.7 & 5” in Chicago, “Energy 92.7” in San Francisco, “Groove 103.1” in Los Angeles, “Party 93.1” in Miami, “Hot 107.1” in Denver, or “Pulse 87” in New York City, Dance has tried mightily to find permanent places on the radio only to see them either sold or flip to other formats.

The same fate that has befallen other Dance/EDM outlets recently happened to another. Add WEDX-FM “Evolution 101.7” in Boston to that long list. Clear Channel Communications flipped the EDM’er to Country “101.7 the Bull” with the moving of Pete Tong’s Evolution format (which already is available with a national feed on iHeartRadio) to the 107.9 HD-2 of WXKS-FM CHR “Kiss 108”.

There is one motivation behind the move and one motivation only—Clear Channel wants to prop up Kiss. They want to slice numbers off Greater Media’s market-leading Country 102.5 WKLB in order to move Kiss to the top place on the Boston PPM’s.

Except one can make the argument that Kiss’s sister in crime at WJMN “Jam’n 94.5” is already doing a very good job of that on its own—along with two CBS Radio stations in Hot AC WBMX “Mix 104.1” and WODS “103.3 Amp Radio”.

Evolution may have done it as well.

Typical Clear Channel move if you ask me where the PPM charts are the sole motivation for a move. In a city where there has been no Oldies/Classic Hits station since 2012 when WODS flipped from its longtime heritage Classic Hits format to Top 40. This in a city where there has been no (legitimate) Urban AC (sorry, you don’t count, Touch 106.1!) station since Radio One sold off their cluster in the City of Beans to Entercom. And in a city where, despite its huge Country audience, probably doesn’t need a second Country outlet.

But that’s beside the point…at least for now.

Just a few short years ago, most mainstream radio listeners probably wouldn’t be able to name one EDM artist.

Now, North American radio listeners know who Avicii, Armin Van Buuren, Deadmau5, Skrillex, Diplo, David Guetta, Zedd, Benny Benassi, Fedde Le Grand, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, DJ Tiesto, Afrojack, and countless other EDM DJ’s are. Dance music hasn’t been this popular and received this much radio airplay since the mid-1990s.

The difference between the mid-1990s and today is that radio was not as concentrated in the hands of a few owners as it is today. The difference between the mid 90’s and today is that the business climate for dance stations was much rosier than it is today, unfortunately.

These artists are getting a mountain of airtime on CHR radio stations, but why hasn’t it translated into EDM formats springing up all over the country like leaves in the springtime?

Alternative music is also experiencing a renaissance with musicians such as Lorde, Lana del Rey, and Imagine Dragons lighting up the Billboard charts. The difference is that there are already plenty of Alternative and Indie formats on the radio, even those that happen to be to the left of 92.1.

Wherefore, art thou, EDM?

I can’t quite put my finger on this one except for the obvious answer that something about full time EDM formats just doesn’t seem to fit a model for mainstream corporate radio. After all, it took Pete Tong just to twist arms enough in San Antonio for them to even do a 24-hour channel on iHeartRadio.

Also, the 93.5 in Miami doesn’t count just because of the fact that it’s near the former home of Party 93.1. 93.5 is a translator.
Other than Sirius XM Satellite Radio and a bevy of internet radio stations (like what Pulse 87 is now), there are not that many places where EDM fans can get their consistent fix of music with abnormally high BPMs. This is other than weekend “Party” mixshows at “Club CoCo” which already are basically all EDM, all the time. Now, any random daypart on your local Top 40 station sounds like a weekend mixer.

Just imagine if your favorite musical genre started to become very popular and began to receive a lot of radio airplay. Wouldn’t you want that genre to not have to rely on Top 40 stations to get airplay and would rather see it stand on its own with its own radio stations?

Because, sometimes, radio stations aren’t simply media outlets. They can (when done right) also be outlets that can exude musical culture. That’s the marketing strategy behind the Nash FM stations.

For radio conglomerates to say that EDM mixers and artists are good enough to have their music played on CHR outlets (which have gone heavily Rhythmic thanks to EDM’s rise to mainstream prominence lately) but not on their own radio stations like Evolution in Boston sounds like a subtle slap in the face. It’s like saying to a sports reporter at a radio station that she’s good enough to cover major events like basketball games, but they’ll wait to promote her to being in charge of the department simply because she’s a woman.

Look, one should not complain if you’re an EDM fan. When you’re in the position that dance has been over the past couple of decades, you have to take what you can get. And, perhaps, this could be part of the thinking of radio conglomerates that if they were to give EDM their on stations that it would take away from CHRs. After all, EDM and Alternative’s stock are both up while that of Hip-Hop is down.

But it wasn’t part of the thinking by these same radio bigwigs when people had forgot what dance was and Hip-Hop was going through a radio renaissance like it was for a good portion of the 2000’s.

Every time this back-and-forth on EDM is referenced, we cannot forget about one artist in particular—Mother Monster herself, Lady Gaga.

How did Lady Gaga get her big break into the superstar she is today? This little thingy in New York called…Pulse 87.

Exactly. Z-100 wasn’t the radio station that discovered Gaga. Pulse 87 did. In fact, prior to Joel Salkowitz going bankrupt on Pulse, he had a master plan to beam in multiple “Pulse 87”’s into Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Chicago.

Again, I would not complain one bit if I am one of the millions of EDM fans in the USA. Those who probably never even knew what BPM stood for are embracing the genre. Pop culture is embracing the genre. Rappers, as evidenced by Snoop Dogg, are embracing the genre. Alternative artists like Coldplay are embracing the genre as evidenced by their work with Avicii. There’s even a such thing as EDM artists producing COUNTRY songs!

What’s next, a genre that fuses together EDM with Smooth Jazz? Oh wait—there already is a genre for that—it’s called Chill. WQCD CD 101.9 in New York once tried the Chill experiment for a while before eventually reverting to Smooth Jazz.

If everyone else is on board EDM’s bandwagon which seems to get bigger and bigger by the day, why can’t radio in the form of full time formats? After all, Zedd recently signed an endorsement deal with Bud Light.

There’s one advertiser. And we know how much you lurrrrve those, radio.