Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Old School R&B and Hip Hop 99.3 debuts

Last month, Streetz 94.5 owner Steve Hegwood quietly added a new FM station in the market, a modest signal at 99.3 he's called Old School. It's a simulcast of an AM station he has owned since last year at 1010/WTZA-AM.

It's a mix of R&B oldies from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s with a heavy emphasis on the 1980s That means Keith Sweat, Chaka Khan and the O'Jays are all in the mix. Since adding the FM signal, he has thrown in a smidgen of hip hop as well by the likes of Notorious B.I.G., Heavy D, LL Cool J and Salt-n-Pepa.

The signal is what is known in the business as as an "FM translator" and is limited in its reach. This one is only 99 watts and comes out of Mableton. It can be heard on the west side but once you move east of downtown, it fades out. I listened yesterday going up I-85 and it got shaky north of Clairmont Road.  (The AM signal, on the other hand, can be heard all over town during the day, but the fidelity is inferior. Talk station WCON-FM near Hall County blocks the FM signal's ability to penetrate anywhere east.)

Hegwood said as an individual owner, he can't afford to buy a decent-sized signal to compete with the likes of Clear Channel and Cumulus. But he now owns two translators and Streetz 94.5 has turned into a profitable venture for Hegwood. That hip-hop station ranked 9th in August Nielsen Audio share among 18 to 34 year olds. The translator may not be terribly strong but it's very targeted to the audience it seeks.

While both Kiss 104.1 and Majic 107.5./97.5 do play some old school, both stations have become decidedly younger in recent years so Hegwood said he's filling a gap. Majic plays about three cuts an hour from the 1970s and 1980s (mostly 1980s), or about 24 percent of its airplay, according to Mediabase 24/7, which tracks airplay on major Atlanta stations. Kiss skews just a wee bit older, with 29 percent of its airplay from the 1960s through 1980s. But overall, the two stations are very very similar in terms of their mix of current and older cuts. (Kiss, by the way, was the No. 1 station overall last month with a 7.1 share. That's the first time in its history it has landed on top in a given month, beating both Majic and V-103.)

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Old School on AM drew a 0.2 share in August. "I know for music we need to be on FM as well," Hegwood said. He hopes to improve the signal but for now will focus on west Atlanta.

Hegwood said the station will soon be available on TuneIn. He plans later in the year to hire jocks and host events like he does with Streetz. The website is currently spare but will  soon be populated as well.

Here's a sample hour on Old School from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday. No hip hop this particular hour.

12:05: "Ladie's Night" Kool & the Gang (1979)

12:09: "Soon As I Get Home" Babyface (1989)

12:13" "Disco Lady" Johnny Taylor (1976)

12:18: "U Know What's Up" Donell Jones (1999)

12:22: "Don't You Know That" Luther Vandross (1981)

12:26 "I Feel Good All Over" Stephanie Mills (1987)

12:30: "Your Body's Here, But Your Mind's Is On the Other Side of Town" The O'Jays (1982)

12:34 "Sweet Love' Anita Baker (1986)

12:38: "Funkin' For Jamaica" Tom Browne (1980)

12:42: "Love No Limit" Mary J. Blige (1992)

12:46: "Don't Say Goodnight" Isley Brothers (1980)

12:50: ads for Dr. Juice cleanser and Sprint Tax Services

12:52 "Let's Get It On" Marvin Gaye (1973)

12:56: "They'll Never Be" Switch (1978)

For comparison, here's what Kiss played the same hour:

12:03 p.m. "Forever My Lady" Jodeci (1991)

12:07 p.m. "Genius" R. Kelly (2013)

12:11 p.m. "P.Y.T." Michael Jackson (1983)

12:15 p.m. "Nobody But You" Algebra Blessett (2013)

12:22 p.m. commerical break

12:26 p.m. "There Goes My Baby" Usher (2009)

12:31 p.m. "Atomic Dog" George Clinton (1983)

12:34 p.m. "Get Her Back" Robin Thicke (2014)

12:38 p.m. "If I Ever Fall In Love" Shai (1993)

12:41 p.m. "Thank You" Estelle (2011)

12:45 p.m. "Mary Jane" Rick James (1978)

12:51 p.m. commercial break

12:56 p.m. "Rain On Me" Ashanti (2003)

And Majic's noon hour:

12:03 p.m. "Single Ladies" Beyonce (2008)

12:06 p.m. "Love on Top" Beyonce (2011)

12:14 p.m. commercial break

12:21 p.m. "Beauty" Dru Hill (1998)

12:25 p.m. "The Way You Move" Outkast (2003)

12:28 p.m. "It's You" KEM (2014)

12:32 p.m. "Funkin' For Jamaica" Tom Browne (1980)

12:37 p.m. "Love U 4 Life" Jodeci (1995)

12:44 p.m. commercial break

12:51 p.m. "So In Love" Jill Scott (2011)

12:54 p.m. "Smooth Criminal" Michael Jackson (1987)

12:58 p.m. "March" George Tandy Jr. (2014)

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List of Atlanta radio stations

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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