If you listened to Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins on his earnings call you might come to the conclusion that he believes the Classic Hip Hop format — or BOOM, as Radio One calls it — has run its course. Radio One created the Classic Hip Hop format and yesterday Liggins said, “We invented the format and we’re the first to exit the format. It is not a sustainable long-term ratings getter.”
The first launch of the Classic Hip Hop format for Radio One was in October of 2014 in Houston when they dumped the all-news format. When Radio One SVP of Programming Jay Stevens was interviewed for a Radio Ink cover story a few months after that launch, he said, “The passion levels for this music are high. That’s not just Houston, that’s several markets that we have tested in. People love classic hip-hop.” Stevens also said there was a tremendous amount of music for the format. “There is a depth of the classic hip hop. You are playing from the late ’80s to early 2000s. Fifteen to 18 years of music we can tap into. There is a lot of music, there is high
passion. We felt that this is going to be big. It has lived up to exactly what we thought.”
Radio One rolled the format out into other markets, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Philadelphia. Then competitors started copying the format, hoping to take advantage of the quick surge in ratings, especially in clusters where there was a very weak-performing FM.
This past July, in Detroit, Greater Media flipped an all-Sports station to Classic Hip Hop and shot right to the top of the ratings. Radio One also has stations in Detroit and it’s an underperforming market for them. Yesterday, Liggins said the Greater Media station “shot up like a rocket, but it will come down to earth.”
And in Philadelphia, where Radio One has a Boom station, Liggins said, without changing the name of the station, “we’ve reoriented the Boom format to be much more current.”
Perhaps Radio One hasn’t totally thrown in the towel on the Classic Hip Hop format but it’s clear they have soured on it a bit.