Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Flow

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.


Amadeo said...

Here we had Morgan States Station 88.9 on Friday from midnite to 5am they played underground hip-hop....mind you actual underground stuff. Things I would never hear on the radio. These days...not so much. Killed me when I found out. That was one thing I could always depend on.

GC said...

I was reading somewhere that stations keep repeating those few songs because studies show that listeners, when hearing something unfamiliar for the first time are more likely to tune away and never come back than if they are forced to listen to the same four songs ad nauseum. It's riskier to play a wide variety of music.
Not that I agree. I think it is assinine and take it as a personal affront.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'm fascinated by radio, good radio, not just a thing that plays music. But radio that lets the imagination fly as opposed to tv that shows you everything...not that I don't like tv, I love it.

I'd love to run a radio station that broadcasts plays, stories from around the world, music from around the world, can be so vibrant.

The closest we get to good radio here is a BBC programme sometime before lunch.

dalia said...

jdid, try

you can make your own radio stations based on music preferences.

i can't tell you the last time i listened to flow. slim and melanie in the morning make me itch, and it gets worse throughout the dat. li'l red and j-wise cater to the lowest ghetto denominator, and i can't handle AY YAI YAI in my ears for four hours on sunday. lol

flow lost me about five years ago. bring back BLK! lol

inciquay said...

I haven't listened to Flow since I got my XM satellite radio last Christmas and I'm never going back! The only time I ever like FLOW was when they first first started and they hadn't hired any dj's yet so they just played a steady stream of music uninterrupted for the first 3 days. Even when they mistakenly played nothing but dead air for 10 minute stretches (LOL) I enjoyed it much more thoroughly than their actual programming. I mourned the day that KISS FM turned into Jack FM cuz the introduction of FLOW had made that station step up their urban game causing me to enjoy them much more.
It was the beginning of the end when they fired Jemeni and Mark Strong from the morning show and even those two grated on my last nerves with their inane chatter and stupid song parodies. I'm just glad they finally showed their true colors and stopped faking the funk by embracing their Top 40 ways. All I heard was White voices calling in and/or winning ish on there anyway. Let'em have it.

LMAO and cosigning Dalia's comment:
I can't handle AY YAI YAI in my ears for four hours on Sunday either!

Stunner said...

I guess their research data determined what they played, but based on your post it seems it was wrong. Here in Jamaica, we have a lot of "urban" stations which for the most part have their own audience. They play basically all types of music, but they differ in how they play them to suit their audiences.

Brotha Buck said...

Course, I only listen to talk shows now. Radio sucks in central TExas.

Crankyputz said...

ill say for starters that I don't agree any station should be an all black station....that's plain ole silly..

however, flow has become more 103.5 over the past couple of years....I do enjoy their soca therapy on sundays....