Tom Taylor Now: Harry Lyles Talks “Classic Hip Hop” 10.29.15

Happy First Birthday to “Boom” (and today’s classic hip-hop format). (10.29.15)

Though consultant Harry Lyles contends that “Classic hip-hop is simply the wrong name for the format,” and he’ll explain why in a moment. It’s been almost exactly a year (October 13, 2014) since Radio One shelved Houston’s “News 92” KROI and replaced it with “Boom 92.” The hype then was that KROI was “the first major-market throwback hip-hop station of its kind in the country.” Southern California’s KDAY/KDEY (both 93.5) had been exploring much of the same playlist for years, but Radio One felt it was formulating the music of the 1990s and 2000s differently.

Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins knew the rapturous reception for the format would die down in each market where they’ve introduced it (Dallas, Philly, etc.). But that the main questions were, #1, would it settle in at a good level and #2, was the new “Boom” an improvement over the format it replaced? Liggins seems happy with Houston, where he’s no longer losing millions on an all-newser that couldn’t find its footing. (“Boom 92” is cheaper to run.) And here are the Nielsen topline age 6+ AQH shares for the Houston Boom – there was a 1.0-share from the previous all-news station. Then a 3.2 in Boom’s first month, when weekly cume exploded from 225,000 to 825,000 in its debut week. The next PPM monthlies after the 3.2 were a 2.9 and a 2.5. How about recently? The last four months have run 2.0-1.7-1.7-1.7. Radio One still likes the strategy of owning the classic hip-hop position for Houston, in between its young-end urban “Box 97.9” KBXX and urban AC “Majic 102” KMJQ. And so far it’s stuck with Boom in other markets. The ripple effect has Cumulus/Westwood doing a more inclusive musical take, based on its roaring first-book-#1 success at Indy-market “93.9 the Beat” WRWM. This NOW Newsletter’s asking some experts about “Boom” and its progeny –

• “This is the new Adult Urban AC,” says consultant Harry Lyles of Lyles Media Group. As you read in the first story, Harry thinks that “Classic hip-hop is simply the wrong name for this format. Our research tells us, and the ratings success or lack of it teaches us, that the real targeted hip-hop fans don’t call it ‘classic hip-hop,’ and don’t like the name. They refer to it as ‘Hip-hop’ or when applicable, ‘Old School Hip-hop.’” Harry also says “using labels like ‘OG’ [for ‘Original Gangsta’] or ‘Boom’ do the format no favors, and can accidentally paint a negative picture.

But when properly programmed, this format can be widely accessible, musically focused, easy to promote, and it can create incredible time-spent-listening.” He says “professionally programmed and marketed Hip-hop and Old School Hip-hop often are great word-of-mouth formats and can deliver powerful and positive listener attention.” But there’s the dimension of talent – “Sadly, many of the existing stations have the wrong type of talent, especially in the morning. It is important that the talent reflects the age and mindset of the target listeners. And as is often the case, the strength of the station, beyond the music, also relies on the morning show – and to be honest, most stations miss the boat.”

And finally, what Harry said up-top – “Based on what we have learned, this is the new adult urban AC, that has more appeal than regular UAC.”