Nick and Eric Vidal -- known as the Baka Boys in reference to
their growing up in the city of Bakersfield -- have left Power
in 1993 with a two-hour Friday night "hip hop" show,
switched to late nights, and by early 1994 were moved into the
all-important morning drive slot, helping propel Power 106 back
into the top of the ratings. In 1987 they were replaced by Big
Boy in the morning and moved to afternoon drive where they stayed
until resigning last week. Sources report that a lack of respect
from the station may have something to do with their resignation.
Apparently the Boys were upset that others on the station received
more publicity, even though they themselves were the top-rated
show on the station. The good
bets have the Baka Boys moving down the dial to The Beat (KKBT,
television may also be in the works. In the meantime, The Goodfellas
are filling in for the Baka Boys on Power 106.
They started in 1993 with a two-hour Friday night "hip hop" show, switched to late nights, and by early 1994 were moved into the all-important morning drive slot, helping propel Power 106 back into the top of the ratings. In 1987 they were replaced by Big Boy in the morning and moved to afternoon drive where they stayed until resigning last week. Sources report that a lack of respect from the station may have something to do with their resignation. Apparently the Boys were upset that others on the station received more publicity, even though they themselves were the top-rated show on the station.
The good bets have the Baka Boys moving down the dial to The Beat (KKBT, television may also be in the works. In the meantime, The Goodfellas are filling in for the Baka Boys on Power 106.
BIG LEZ with
The Baka Boyz
Nautica de la Cruz
Big Boy's Neighborhood
The House Party
Dominique DiPrima with
BIG LEZ with Chris Tucker
By James D. Harmon
Hip-Hop music is the new dominant force in the industry, stealing the spotlight from the once mighty rock format. Stations have taken notice, as playlists are scrambled to incorporate this latest trend. Hip-hop served as the rock 'n' roll of the 90s.
For Los Angeles radio, the impact of hip-hop has been especially diverse and influential. A majority of the latest pop hits feature hip-hop artist cameos, and the new breed of modern rock artists such as Limp Bizkit and Korn openly admit to being heavily inspired by the hip-hop sound.
A form of music that can effectively be marketed to millions of listeners, especially the richly populated minority areas of the Los Angeles market, hip-hop allows stations to introduce advertisers to a wider listener base including crossover between Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian and African American listeners.
Primary players Power 106 (KPWR 105.9) and while stations like 99.1 KGGI, 102.7 KIIS and even modern rock's get their piece of the hip-hop pie. Hip-hop radio is a game that everyone wants to play; but every game has its share of winners and losers.
Power 106 came upon the scene in the mid-'80s and introduced mainstream radio to its hip-hop and dance format. But Power 106 turned its full attention to hip-hop in 1994. Power now provides a musical variety that's 70% hip-hop and 30% R&B. Why the shift?
"Our music is a representation of the listener's lifestyle," said Power 106 Music Director and mixer E-Man.
And that lifestyle has changed over recent
years. Power 106 once aggressively targeted the Hispanic community.
Nowadays their listening audience is shared with the likes of
KIIS-FM, with whom they shared a 4.3 overall rating in the winter
Arbitron book. despite having a 1 million-listener base compared
to KIIS's 1.5 million.
Power 106's diversity is well-represented by its on-air staff. Each DJ has their own way of bringing the music to the streets. Midday personality Nautica De La Cruz represents the female side of the Hispanic community. The strong morning talents in Big Boy's Neighborhood and features like Big Boy's "Bootie Call," "Phone Tap" and the always-energetic "Mickey Fickey Mix" bring home the bacon.
Nighttime personality Sondoobie gets in touch with the younger audiences by talking about sex, dating and partying. Sondoobie's segment, "Poppie Chulo" is reminiscent of "Loveline." The night man invites listeners to ask their most explicit dating questions, to which he offers explicit answers. He also brings years of music knowledge to the microphone from his own hip-hop group, Funkdoobiest.
Unlike other contemporary music stations in L.A., Power 106 offers various mix shows that allow the DJ to introduce new records to the playlist. The Baka Boyz, who host the afternoon drive slot and "Friday Night Flavas," have turned the art of breaking records into a weekly routine.
"Our mixers are the ones breaking records,
and we trust them to the fullest," E-Man boasted.
92.3 The Beat took its own journey from hip-hop obscurity and has now carved itself a permanent groove in the vinyl-friendly world of mixers and rappers. Once a mainly R&B station, the Beat is now dominated by the likes of hip-hop artists DJ Quik and Jay-Z, whose CD covers read: "Parental Advisory - Explicit Lyrics." But the Chancellor-media station has not strayed as its rotation still features strong R&B acts such as Maxwell and Deborah Cox. However, today's R&B is intermixed with hip-hop breaks; it's hard to tell where hip-hop ends and R&B begins. So despite their attempts to stay musically diverse, hip-hop is now the main fixture in the Beat's household.
The Beat's program director, Harold Austin, explained the shift. "We're trying to target a younger audience, and that audience made it very clear that they wanted to hear more hip-hop on the station," he said.
But who makes up the Beat's listeners? According to Austin, the audience is roughly 60% African American and 40% Hispanic. But there couldn't be a better time to be minority friendly as recent statistics featured in Newsweek indicate that by 2005, Hispanics will be the leading minority in the country. And in some Los Angeles County communities, the Latino population will outnumber Whites.
The Beat's ethnic diversity is also reflected in the on-air staff. Theo, The bedroom-voiced afternoon personality who joined the Beat in 1993, has become its most well-known DJ. He is neither African American nor Hispanic, but third-generation Japanese. John London and the House Party consists of a morning blend of white, brown and black.
Where is this once-underground music form headed? If you ask KROQ, who founded the once-mighty alternative rock scene, they'll tell you stories of Top 40 obscurity, fighting to play new records before KIIS and KGGI turn the songs into mainstream, heavy rotation nightmares. Could the pop world get a hold of hip-hop and cause the same effect?
"Hip-pop" has been around since
this Way." But recent acts like Puff Daddy and Will Smith
have taken the genre to new heights as they straddle that fine
line between edgy and something you can "get jiggy with."
This crossover has not detracted from scene, as booming economics
has enabled a wide variety of acts to break through. Would Eminem
really see such success without popular music's guiding voice?
( "Hi, my name is) Who would really care? Not
enough to make the record go platinum. Despite what some hip-hop
loyalists may say, popular music is what made Eminem famous and,
consequently, quite rich.
A style of music based on actual experience, not abstract inspiration, hip-hop enables the listener to experience life on the street (the legendary N.W.A.) or to see inside the head of a deeply disturbed white kid from Detroit (take a listen to Eminem's "Just the Two of Us"). But is this experience a positive one, or is the listener learning that life is nothing more than violence, drinking and disrespect. "It's all relative; everybody gets into it with the best intentions," said Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) editor Tony Novia of Radio & Records, a leading trade publication. "But it's always gonna have that element."
Power 106 has tried to curb its lineup of the more hard-core hip-hop. But the music doesn't allow for much variety. While TLC and Mase keep the mainstream safe, DMX and the Westside Connection continue to ride the "gangsta rap" wave. The darker side of hip-hop is increasing in popularity and continues to dominate the request lines.
The Beat prefers to shield itself behind Freedom of Speech and tries its best to play the records the listener wants to hear. "But we do have a certain amount of responsibility to the audience," said Austin.
While much more "friendly" hip-hop is being produced than in recent years, the music came from the streets, forcing it to keep one foot on the asphalt.
The Beat sticks to its "No-Color Lines" motto, promoting itself as a positive outlet for creativity of all races. However, its music isn't so diverse, featuring a primarily African American artist base. Despite the irony, the Beat's image of "No-Color Lines" holds strong, and their DJs actively promote peace and safety. For example, Dominique DiPrima's "Street Science" takes on racial politics with such hot topics as "DWB" (Driving While Black/Brown) and "Playing Ourselves? The New Hollywood Colorlines."
Regardless of its image, hip-hop is here to stay. Acts are coming out at a nonstop rate and new styles are being introduced with each passing year. Unlike most genres of music, hip-hop makes an active attempt to constantly reinvent itself. But it can only go so far, and there are only so many samples one can use.
At least from a sales standpoint, hip-hop has already proven itself as one of the greatest musical triumphs ever. Recent acts such as Nas and Krayzie Bone have gone Platinum in less than two months each, and the Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill" has sold more than half a billion records. And so it appears that as long as hip-hop thrives, so will both stations' listener base.
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