When KPTY Party 93.3 signed off for the last time in March 2009, who knew it would be almost another five years before the city of Houston would see another fully developed hip-hop/R&B station in its aerospace? In other words, hip-hop fans in the city have been longing for such a move since KBXX 97.9 The Box began its long-standing stranglehold on the airwaves.
Then Tuesday afternoon, the change came -- swiftly. After a 20-year run as KKRW 93.7, and struggling with a sizable lag in ratings against 106.9 The Eagle, The Arrow ditched its classic-rock format and became 93.7 The Beat, rebranding itself as a hip-hop/R&B outfit and immediately began sending threats down the airwaves: "We are freeing you from that Box you've been subjected to."
Needless to say, that meant I had to tune in for the first few hours of programming, billed as "5,000 songs, zero commercials." Surely it couldn't be as bad as that one time I listened to The Box for an entire weekend, right?
12:45 p.m.: UGK feat. OutKast, "International Players Anthem" Hello, Radio Gods? This is Brando. I'm here bowing at your mercy for allowing THIS to be the first thing I hear on the new station. There are no jocks on today (which makes sense, given the huge shift) so there will be nothing but music. I'm not hedging my bets on hearing a song more than once, though.
12:49 p.m.: Trey Songz, "Oh Na Na" This is the new Trey Songz single, a DJ Mustard produced sex record because well Trey Songz forgot all about the other parts of R&B when he realized sex sells. The funny thing? It cracked online less than a week ago which is a SHOCK compared to how buzz singles find their way down here.
12:52 p.m.: Rich Homie Quan: "Type of Way": Song of the summer candidate, one. Ignorant New Year's Party song, two.
12:55 p.m.: Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake, "Holy Grail" Let me be honest. Since Jay Z made that giant brand move/Samsung deal, a part of me has been turned away from his music. And this is coming from a huge Jay Z fan. Also, I can't even remember the last time I played Magna Carta Holy Grail front to back. Summer maybe? Let's say that.
1 p.m.: SHOTS FIRED! The ominous voice of DJ Drama breaks in to let the world know that 93.7 The Beat has arrived and is already doing wacky things like that tried and true "Houston We Have a Problem" thing and sending not-so-subtle shots to 97.9 The Box. It's ON!
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1:05-2 p.m. The new hour is dominated by old party records, ones in Waka Flocka Flame's "No Hands" to Drake's "All Me." There's a bit of a tempo switch-up with Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable" before the massive curve ball that is Beyoncé's "Partition," no doubt one of the greatest racy songs we've been given in the last four weeks. I still have no clue how I'm going to explain to my future daughter that some Beyoncé songs existed, yet were too dirty for radio.
2:03 p.m.: LADIES MIX?! Let me go back over the press release Clear Channel sent down for this station. Uh huh ... focus on female audience... so THAT'S why I'm hearing "Like a Boy" in 2013, followed by J.Cole's "Power Trip" and Nicki Minaj's "Beez In Da Trap." Smart, because the main demographic I know that still takes the radio into major consideration? Women.
Although, J.Cole in the ladies' mix ... oh boy, that's hilarious. Somehow we've also tossed into the fray a remix of Drake's schmaltzy pop record with Rick Ross, "Hold On, We're Going Home," before we get to "Oh Na Na" again. For those keeping score, the station took almost three hours to repeat a song. Three.
4:04 p.m.: JAY Z feat. Rick Ross, "FWitMeYouKnowIGotIt" THIS is a NYE anthem, and one of the few songs from MCHG that I even dare to play on a consistent basis now. Sorry, commercialization has killed that album for me.
So, what have we learned in The Beat's infant hours? One, I'll miss The Arrow for playing Zep and how tragic it was to hear Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" as its final song. Two, the station knows it's the new big boy on the block and has run its opening introduction at the top of every hour, announcing its presence in the city and its willingness to play brand-spanking-new records without having to repeat the same five or six songs.
Thirdly, it can only mean good things for the city itself. Namely, bringing on the hottest syndicated morning show in the country in The Breakfast Club and hopefully appearances from local talent such as Trae Tha Truth, Doughbeezy, Propain, Stunna Bam and others. The latter may be a long shot, but unlike Party 93.3 or even Party 104.9 of yesteryear, The Beat is coming out swinging.
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