Guest Post: Research Destroying Urban Radio


11953126_10152950172466594_2178802612537163620_nURBAN RADIO…WHAT IS GOING ON?

The state of urban radio with the exception of WHUR here in Washington DC and a few others across the country IS, you have NON African Americans choosing the music format, branding, management and marketing of radio stations from a perspective of… I AM NOT BLACK NOR IN THE DEMOGRAPHIC this station is targeting but I KNOW WHAT BLACK PEOPLE WANT!

This is why we hear the same music over and over and formats, promotions and overall marketing of these stations sounding VERY similar. In my opinion I prefer it to be called “COOKIE CUTTER PROGRAMMING.”  Very little creativity nor deviation from a formula based on SO CALLED RESEARCH. Research with a very small select pool of people who are helping to decide what the masses of black consumers hear on the airwaves?

YOU SELDOM see this at NON URBAN STATIONS. There are VERY FEW African Americans in a position of management utilizing a cookie cutter style of programming for a mass population of a particular consumer.

TRUST ME I been in this game since 1988.. I have LIVED IT…I SAW when Corporate America moved into radio taking the sense of COMMUNITY, CREATIVITY, PERSONALITY AND…most important ceasing to offer people what they ACTUALLY WANT as opposed to giving the diverse consumer an opportunity to have their wants and needs considered.

We are a diverse type of listener, we establish personal emotional ties family-like ties to MEDIA PERSONALITIES so when they are SNATCHED OFF AIRWAVES with zero explanation, listeners begin to feel their opinions and wants are unimportant. Which brings about a DISCONNECT. Throw in new technology…there is no more community nor sense of truly relating to the stations, hence, the state of urban radio today.

For some reason, some management in radio pigeon-hole on air talent making them feel obsolete and replaceable but many of us KNOW MORE AND DO MORE THAN JUST ON-AIR. I now travel consulting management giving speeches on the impact of corporation mentality destroying the desires of the consumer as well as the artistry and creativity in radio, and how digital media, new media has COMPLETELY ALTERED ALL FORMS OF TRADITIONAL MEDIA.

I KNOW the insides of radio and the political GAME BEHIND IT! Those who have been in the game 20 plus years know EXACTLY what has happened to our industry and it is disheartening and heartbreaking because unfortunately the ..THE HUMAN ELEMENT…the ENTERTAINMENT AND COMMUNITY PART OF URBAN RADIO IS GONE!

It is all about MONEY, the bottom line. sad really because the urban audience is intelligent, educated, diverse and DESERVES BETTER!
We have an incredible STRENGTH and economic POWER but for whatever reason our communities across the country are force-fed what NON AFRICAN AMERICANS THINK WE WANT AND some of the programming TO ME is an insult to the intelligence and diversity we have as CONSUMERS.

NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT THIS perhaps TOO scared or simply incapable of expressing their thoughts and experiences in a manner that doesn’t come off as bitter and or hostile. But for those of you who know my story and past health challenges at times NEAR DEATH, when you go through such experiences it changes you perception of FEAR.

It is no longer apart of your being. Faith and purpose allows one to SPEAK TRUTH! I am HERE TO TELL YOU WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON! If you like to discuss further or looking for an experienced speaker consultant or strategist on this subject and many others, reach out. I have taken all my MANY YEARS of experience in all aspects of media, branding marketing, the economics and political aspects of this business and so much more to help others in their endeavors. THIS IS WHAT I DO.

Next month I launch my new venture to give corporations, organizations, start-ups, individuals as well as other industry professionals the opportunity to learn and benefit from all the wisdom I have gained over the past YEARS I have worked in ALL ASPECTS of media it is MY HOPE that simply beginning a dialogue on this subject and more many can be enlightened to so many aspects of one of our oldest forms of impacting others through communication and the disseminating of information..

Olivia Fox
[email protected]
@OliviaFoxRadio – Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, linkedIn, Google+ TheVine


  1. Olivia, Bravo for speaking the obvious truth to the situation at hand. Too long have we sat on the sidelines and watch this happen over and over. I use to rally against simple re search stating that the actual word is negative!
    (RE) means to do over (Search) Means to look for or seek. So why look for something to do over when you are trying to progress. Do not get me wrong research is important to stay informed about what HAS happened but the folk interpreting the research must first truly understand the audience or group you are programming for.
    We do not give our listeners much credit in determining what they want and how they want it. Often we miss the mark to the detriment of the listener.
    Example if you ask a 50 year old person if they like Hip Hop they may answer no in a controlled environment, but on Friday night they have their hands in the air grooving to hip hop in the club or on the way home from work.
    You just have to know when and how to serve it to them on the radio, in terms of time of day and selection.
    Example we use music like food, I LOVE Collard greens but I NEVER eat them for Breakfast, same with music. We like it all but there is a time and selection for everything musical.
    SO Olivia I fell you on every word you speak!

  2. no need to debate facts…truth has been spoken from two persons who we know, know what they are talking about….Kevin thanks for providing a platform….commendable and worthy of support…
    Be Well

  3. All true Mrs. Fox…In a research related horror story: When we flipped Urban Mainstream “100.3 the Beat” to UAC “V100” we kicked off the format flip with a mix weekend. It was great until…Around 11pm one of our mixers, a mixer who lives and breaths ole’skool West Coast music, played two back to back unfamiliar records, or as the higher ups put it “records that NEVER tested ANYWHERE”!!! After these records aired I was called back to the office, told to send the mixer home and schedule music for the rest of the weekend. That Monday I instructed to let ALL the mixers go…THERE WAS TO BE NO MORE MIXING ON THE STATION…The two records that were played – “Your Sweetness” by The Good Girls! The same Good Girls that were from L.A. where “Your Sweetness” was a MAJOR record! The other “unfamiliar”, “non-testing” record was “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordon. Yes…You read that right – Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” put an end to mixing on V100. SMH…It only got worse from there. When I have more time I’ll have to tell you about the time I was told NOT to play Parliament Funkadelic during a “best of” mid-day music block feature because, yep, you guessed it – “music from Parliament didn’t research well”. Once again – I’m in Los Angeles being told NOT to play Parliament Funkadelic because their music didn’t research?!?! WTH!!!

  4. This is not a new problem nor is this a new response.
    Obviously I respect and know personally, or of the people commenting, and the very talented Ms Fox but what are we going to do about this decades old problem,that exists not just in radio but in Black music,Black everything.
    Not only what, but more importantly when.
    Today we have internet radio,podcasts etc etc,when do we take full advantage of that.
    We don’t stick together all the time,some Black owned companies fill those positions with non Blacks.
    Can we start something as individuals ,without EGOS getting in the way.Or will we be having another guest speaker saying the same old thing every year until eternity. Lots of talent out there in the game and on the beach,with a lot to offer.Next move is on us.
    PS RIP to a guy who I felt should have been on somebody’s radio station,if he wasnt already, because he was such a GIANT personality , a great story teller,funny and legendary cool guy,Chocolate Thunder from Lovetron, Mr.Darryl Dawkins. He was Shaq like with an outside game .

  5. Olivia,
    I could not have said it better myself! I will be celebrating 30 years in radio next month. However, it’s challenging to celebrate because it’s disheartening to see the state of urban radio today. Personally, it’s like raising a child, only to watch him/her choose the wrong path in life.
    Listeners and personalities have been hurt for years when they have been split apart, as if their relationship and emotional, family ties to one another meant nothing. Too many times personalities have been snatched off the air without being given the respect and opportunity to professionally part ways as a courtesy to the listeners, whom have supported the station and personalities faithfully. No matter how many years of service, hard work, dedication and sacrifice a personality has given to an industry They are passionate about, the listener and personality are not shown any compassion or appreciation whatsoever.
    It’s heartbreaking that urban radio no longer has a heartbeat for the urban audience has flatlined. The voice for the urban community has been silenced. All of this due to research! Thanks a lot research and to those that buy into it!
    Therefore, as we move forward, let’s remember that we can’t go back and start a new beginning, but we can start where we are and make a new ending! We can do this by taking full advantage of Internet radio, podcasts, etc. as Roosevelt mentioned in his comment.
    The choice is ours! No more waiting for opportunities, chasing opportunities or having opportunities snatched away from us! Let’s go out and create our own opportunies such as my sistah Olivia and my brotha Mitch, just to name a few!
    Make it happen and enjoy each day on purpose!!

  6. “Cookie Cutter” describes it best.
    I live in the City where the previous commenter Mr. Jerry Wells works. I feel his frustration. I have listened to this man for 35 plus years. It’s so obvious he doesn’t have the freedom to play what he KNOWS we’d love to hear. He knows because he, as well as his listeners have grown up on the music. There is OBVIOUSLY very little leeway to play WHATEVER your audience may like to hear. There are no longer any “one-hit” wonders’ songs played, no LOCAL artists, just the same 35 artists OVER and OVER. It all sounds so formulaic and unnatural. Like there are exactly 7 seconds to comment before the computer pushes out another repeat. That’s because some 28-year old guy from Springfield Illinois or Arkansas is requiring personalities to play what “tested” well, or what fits the “desired format”. It’s just terrible these days. I would support anything financially that would return the freedom to “Black” (NOT “Urban”) music. And next time, we’ll talk about the ONE or TWO stations for “Black” music on Satelite radio. I support Olivia Fox 180%!!!!!


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