Classic Rock and Classic Rap

By Sean Ross

It’s a problem familiar to anybody who’s changed a radio station format in the last few years. For the first few days, the audience of the old station is far more vocal, and easier to find than the new one. As the handful of devout listeners who somehow never got a meter or a diary trash the station repeatedly on social media (which, increasingly, means that it’s on your own streaming player as well), there’s not much else you can do except sit there and take it in the name of “transparency.”

Now, consider the tweets that accompanied the re-launch of Hip-Hop R&B WPHI (Hot 107.9) Philadelphia as “throwback Hip-Hop” Boom 107.9.

Boom 107.9 is Radio One’s second launch of a Classic Hip Hop station, and the response to the first one, KROI (Boom 92) Houston was similarly ecstatic. Edison helped launch the first gold-based Hip-Hop outlet, KDAY Los Angeles, a decade ago. We’ve also been involved in the launch of several “hits and throwbacks” outlets, from KHTP (Hot 103.7) Seattle to CFXJ (Flow 93.5) Toronto, which generated similar passion with a relaunch of its own lately.

The early response to Boom 107.9 has been rapturous, (and the word has been nicely spread by a very well-managed Twitter account). There have been virtually no complaints about losing the old station. That’s just one reason that the change reminds Edison’s Larry Rosin and me of the early days of Classic Rock.

Consider the mid-‘80s, when Classic Rock surfaced. Top 40 was dominant. Rock radio’s place in pop culture, seemingly unassailable a few years earlier, had been upstaged. Rock stations weren’t just grappling with whether to play Prince and Michael Jackson, but Lionel Richie and Culture Club. Rock radio owned nothing that CHR couldn’t cherrypick, including emerging stars like Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe, who were massively alienating to older rock listeners as well.

Classic Rock’s arrival picked off Rock radio’s upper demos and left it with a series of dismaying choices – double down on polarizing hair bands, dig for some more neutral currents that nobody cared about, play very few currents and go “almost Classic Rock,” or, if nobody had snapped up the franchise yet, just go Classic Rock outright.

However you feel about today’s Hip-Hop (and many do consider it to be on an upswing), it’s easy to say that it doesn’t sport the same broad coalition that it did between the mid-‘90s and mid-‘00s when it was, for many 12-to-24-year-olds, either the only music that mattered, or a surprise complement to Alternative Rock. As at the birth of Classic Rock, Top 40 is dominant and as likely to send a song to the Hip-Hop/R&B format as the other way around.

There is, in other words, at least as much excitement about 2pac, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay Z as about today’s Hip-Hop. Among 30-year-olds, it’s not even close, especially since many of those listeners aren’t even hearing today’s Hip-Hop, having scattered to other formats, or maybe even away from music radio.

Conditions were different a decade ago when KDAY launched, ‘90s Hip-Hop wasn’t a distant enough memory. Current Hip-Hop was still accepted in the pop culture mainstream, albeit grudgingly. The ‘80s songs popularized by the original KDAY-AM hadn’t been heard by that many people. The new KDAY didn’t seem like an immediate success, and actually evolved out of the format for a while. But in 2009, it returned to gold-based Hip-Hop, and has made a respectable showing for what had long been considered a fringe signal.

In KDAY’s decision is at least a partial answer to the inevitable questions about the staying power of any new gold-based format. Seattle has levelled off considerably after a huge debut. Even KZEP (Hot 104.5) San Antonio was up 3.1-6.9 in its first month, but off slightly in the second. Those “Jammin’ Oldies” type spikes often obscure that there’s a respectable long-term franchise for somebody afterwards. And Classic Rock was dogged by the “fad format” charges for a decade. Thirty years later, the detractors have finally switched to “well, it’s a mature format.”

It’s also significant that just as Classic Rock was completing its first decade, grunge re-energized Rock radio and there was a viable living for both classic and new rock stations. (The stations that were most left out were those that had sort-of gone Classic Rock and couldn’t credibly own either franchise.) So there doesn’t need to be a permanent vote of no-confidence in today’s Hip-Hop for one Classic Hip-Hop station in a market to find a long-term place. For now, anyway, we’re seeing fresh reminders that a broad coalition of listeners – different from the format’s current audience – grew up with this music and is excited about hearing it again.

Changing Route: The Future of Traffic Reporting

Edison Research’s Larry Rosin presented “Changing Route: The Future of Traffic Reporting” at 2014’s DASH Conference in Detroit. In this dynamic presentation Larry explains the changes he has observed using never-before-seen data and in-person consumer interviews.

Want more? A follow up interview with Larry about the future of traffic reporting can be heard here at Transportation Radio.

 

NYC_Taxi_in_motion

How Effective Is In-Taxi Video?

That’s just the sort of question we love to answer here at Edison Research, so we devised a study to find out. Among the eye-opening results: 82 % of riders surveyed said they are likely to seek information about the products and services they saw advertised. More about our work for Creative Mobile Technologies on the effectiveness of ABC’s in-taxi programming can be found here.

NYC_Taxi_in_motion

Share of Ear for Teens

How Teenagers Are Actually Listening To Music

How are teenagers actually listening to music?

Recently there has been some discussion about how teenagers listen to music, but thanks to Edison’s Share of Ear study, we can answer the question from a scientifically sampled representation of teenagers. We asked 13-17 year olds to keep a detailed one-day audio usage diary. Factoring out any listening to speech-based audio (which was an extremely tiny part of teenage audio usage) we got the results reflected in the graph below.

Interestingly, the biggest part of music listening for teens is to music they ‘own’ (no matter how acquired) at 31%. Some might be surprised that AM/FM radio comes in second – disproving the belief of many that “no teens listen to radio anymore.” Nielsen’s ratings show that ‘kids today’ listen to radio, and our study does too, coming in at 25% of teen’s listening time.

Of course, those two categories (owned music and broadcast radio) would once have made up 100% of music listening time and now account for just 56%. Encroachment from online radio/music pureplays (think Pandora or Spotify) and the phenomenon of YouTube for music now account for significant portions of teen’s music-consumption time. Smaller portions also go to SiriusXM and ‘Cable Radio’ like Music Choice.

The consumption of music is rapidly changing. We look forward to tracking these changes in our next Share of Ear study, coming this fall.

Share of Ear for Teens