Recently I've seen a few articles (including this one) complaining about the change in programming on Flow 93.5 FM here in Toronto. From primarily an Urban station format, Flow has apparently morphed into a top 40 station and some folk here are up in arms.
I really don't see why all of the hoopla over Flow. I mean in my opinion we were all hoodwinked on this station from the inception anyways.
Back in the day, read 10 years ago, Toronto, gasp, didn't have its own homegrown urban station. Say it wasn't so? No it was so! We had WBLK straight out of Buffalo instead and the reception for that station was spotty at best. You could pick it up in Scarborough not so well downtown etc etc. Mind you BLK as it was known loved Toronto, after all they were getting paid off Toronto focused advertising, something like 60% of total revenue at the time I had heard. We in Toronto did have though and continue to have some excellent urban and black oriented programming on local college radio; CKLN, CIUT, CHRY.
Anyway at that point in came Mr Denham Jolly of Milestone Radio with his proposal to the CRTC for an urban, at that time read black, station and his complaints that the CRTC had kept turning him down (3 times actually) and how it was a shame that a major city like Toronto didn't have an urban station. Which it was by the way!
The urban, read black, public bought his argument and threw their support behind his cause and in 2000 Toronto and Mr Jolly finally got the CRTC to see the light and sometime early in 2001 Toronto had its own urban station. Flow 93.5 FM.
They started well. Grabbed up a bunch of local community radio personalities (Somebody send out an S.O.S for my man DJ X) to fill some slots and we the public thought it was on and popping. Finally!
Except that what should have been cause for real celebration wasn't really in my opinion. See the black community had thrown its support behind Mr Denham because most of us naively thought we would be getting the equivalent of the community radio shows on this new urban station but more of it. All day long, we had envisioned as opposed to those late night time slots that we had on the community radio. We were picturing 24-7 hip hop, rnb , calypso, reggae, jazz and programming speaking to the needs and desires of the urban read black populace.
Yea sure in the back of our minds we knew that BLK an urban station as well didn't do that but BLK wasn't that bad and we thought Flow being all based in Toronto would cater more to the needs of the unique mix that is Toronto's urban population.
What we got instead wasn't even sorry was nowhere near as good as BLK and is what I refer to as BET radio. The same 10 or 20 tunes played ad nauseam in slightly different sequences for the whole day. I personally still remember hearing John Legend's Used to love U about 5 times in a 40 min trip from downtown to Scarborough a few years back.
Oh don't get me wrong though we did get a few bones thrown our way to appease us. Our little calypso show on Sunday evenings and the occasional reggae (read nuff nuff nuff Sean Paul) and the late, late night real underground hip hop but prime time and the rest of the day for the most part was just like watching 106 & Park with a few exceptions, big up Starting From Scratch.
In my opinion the station never lived up to our expectations or desires. Of course maybe we were a bit too idealistic. Its cool to have that urban station but the majority of us who supported the application back in the day I'm pretty sure if you ask us 7 years later this is not what we expected or in some cases were led to believe the station would be like.
A so it go sometimes, the argument being that the format we envisioned wouldn't make the money required to run a successful business. Got to market the station and get a broader base and I guess playing the same 10 rnb and hip hop songs does that. Its all about that C.R.E.A.M still ain't it?
So no I don't see what folks are getting all upset about. It doesn't really matter if Flow starts playing Madonna and Britney now cause they let us down from the inception. This is not what we had in mind when late in the last millennium we talked excitedly about having an urban station or signed petitions to enhance Mr Jolly's claims. Flow used us and sold us out but we were naive and idealistic so its not totally their fault. After all what did we know about urban stations, it was all new ground for us. How were we to know that Urban radio meant the same playlist over and over until we actually think we like the tunes being played.
Still like I Said Top 40 or BET radio makes no damn difference to me. I don't listen anymore. Give me the community shows. Big up Worldwide, big up Masterplan, big up Mixtape Massacre, big up Morning Ride. Flow, new Flow who cares.