By, Greg Mack
(Greg Mack is a consultant to KOJJ Porterville/ Fresno/Bakersfield, CA.)
Reprinted from Billboard Magazine “Commentary” Column
Remember KDAY? The legendary Los Angeles-based radio station started the
now-successful hip-hop format. Some call it top 40 rhythmic, others tag
it urban contemporary, while others exclaim that their frequency is
"where hip-hop lives." Whatever the moniker, KDAY paved the
KDAY broke the mold (the station garnered an unheard-of 22-plus
share--on AM radio!) while simultaneously breaking artists from DJ Jazzy
Jeff & the Fresh Prince to LL Cool J and Dr. Dre. The list reads
like a who's who in hip-hop.
I do remember KDAY, because, as assistant PD/music director, I was there
at the beginning, in July 1983. Under the tutelage of super consultant
Jerry Clifton, I helped launch a format that is remembered as one that
changed radio and gave minority kids an outlet for their creativity. By
popularizing hip-hop music, it also helped give mom-and-pop stores a
jump on the mega-chains, because at that time, hip-hop music wasn't
fully stocked by national retailers.
I do remember KDAY, but where are the future KDAYs going to come from?
We in the industry need to pursue the full potential of hip-hop radio
and to protect the genre to ensure it will continue into the next
century. Certainly it is disheartening to hear radio stations proudly
state that they do not play any hip-hop or rap music. This should not be
viewed, however, as an attack but rather should serve as a warning and a
wake-up call to everyone who loves hip hop: It is time to act.
People involved in rock, country, and Latin music have all invested in
radio, thus assuring that “their” music will never die. It is
imperative that African-American artists, performers, and programmers
similarly look ahead to help solidify the hip-hop world and to make
certain it has a future. We can do this by investing in ourselves. While
an all hip-hop station may not be commercially viable, one with a good
balance of uptempo R&B, ballads, and hip-hop can surely win its
It is frustrating and confusing to observe that artists within the hip
hop community who enjoy monetary success and sell millions of units do
not have the foresight to look into investing in radio ownership—to
ensure their music will always have a chance to be heard.
Wherever you may drive, you are guaranteed to hear a country, rock, or
Spanish station. Wouldn't it be terrific to hear R&B/hip-hop music
everywhere, as well? At present, ownership by a minority group is still
affordable and possible, but with new Federal Communications Commission
rules allowing powerful corporations to swallow up stations of all
sizes, what does the future hold?
There is a way to guarantee that hip-hop music will remain on the
airwaves. Put simply, we need new KDAYs. As industry insiders who own
their own labels and production companies already know, when you own it,
Wake up, because the one thing we must realize is that there is no
guarantee that radio stations will continue to play hip-hop music. Radio
executives don't necessarily have the same passion for it that those of
us in the industry do. Radio, after all, is a business first and
foremost. And, if we continue to simply stand back and watch, outlets
for such music may all vanish right before our eyes.
Rather than buying 50 cars and 20 houses, try 40 cars, 10 houses, and an
investment in the future. We must invest in our music so that the youth
of tomorrow will have the same opportunities we have all enjoyed in the