There were two very informative and well done articles on the monumental shake up in urban radio in New York City two weeks ago. In fact, the title of this piece comes from the opening paragraph of Dan Charnas’ article “Long Kiss Goodbye” (see link below) Both Dan Charnas and Bill Stephney were on a hip-hop “Breaks” panel at this year’s EMP Conference along with BreakBeat Lou Flores, Brian Coleman, and Joe Schloss.
1. Merger of WBLS, KISS leaves major hole in urban radio landscape by Bill Stephney
2. Long Kiss Goodbye: Fear Of A Black Planet Killed A Black Radio Station by Dan Charnas
Like everyone else from the metro New York areal, I was certainly stunned by the news that 98.7 Kiss FM would cease broadcasting and merge with its fierce rival 107.5 WBLS. I have been a fan of both 107.5 WBLS and 98.7 Kiss FM over the years. Particularly, the hip-hop programs they both broadcasted on the weekends. The Rap Attack hosted by Mister Magic with his DJ Marley Marl on WBLS and The Kiss MasterMix with Chuck Chillout on Fridays and DJ Red Alert on Saturdays.
Dan Charnas’ article was very enlightening. I thought it was interesting that both decision makers at Kiss and WBLS did not like hip-hop music. Barry Mayo of Kiss was the first to put hip-hop in regular rotation in New York. Charnas says
“Mayo went against every musical and cultural instinct he had and put Run-D.M.C.’s first single into daytime rotation.”
The hesitation to embrace hip-hop by both Kiss and WBLS led, in part, to their diminishing revenue as well as influence in the biggest media market in the United States.
Now the once rivals have been merged into one radio station keeping the WBLS call letters. It’s been a huge loss for the listeners in the NYC tri-state. Personally I will miss Open Line with Bob Slade, Mtume and Bob Pickett. Although, I heard that WBLS was going to keep that program in its usual time slot on Sunday mornings at 10AM.
Below is a tribute video I put together using several audio cassettes I recorded over the years. It includes the BDP promo “The TR-808 Is Coming” for Red Alert, also the Ultra Magnetic MC “Chuck Chillout – Kiss FM” promo as wel as some interesting radio drops by various artists. There’s no question that Kiss and WBLS were fierce rivals but I was able to find several instances where they was actual collaboration and mutual respect between the hip-hop show competitors. I was, without a doubt, a fan of the WBLS Rapattack, which later became In Control with Marley Marl and 98.7 Kiss FM’s Mastermix Dance Party.
Leave a comment, let me know what you think…
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