This post is strictly for my Toronto people who have to deal with the same crappy radio stations that I do. This rant is for you.
Toronto has always had a problem with “urban radio.” When I was growing up, there was no station where we could listen to R&B and hip hop, so we, and most Toronto R&B fans, tuned in to 93.7 WBLK, the urban station from Buffalo to get our fix. The signal wasn’t that great, but when it did come in clear, we got to hear all the jams, all the time. Then in 2001, Flow 93.5 was introduced as “Toronto’s first commercially black radio station.” I remember being so angry that the station was coming because we knew the signal from Flow would be so strong, it would block out BLK, and that’s exactly what happened.
In the beginning, I could tolerate Flow. It did play some good music, it was the station that I would turn to the most, the number one setting in my car. I even had the Flow app on my iPod so I could listen to the Big Tigger show on Saturday nights. It was a black station, playing soca and reggae on Sunday nights, Canadian hip hop in the evenings, gospel on Sunday mornings, and then recently things started to change. Dance music started dominating. I kept wondering why they were playing “Like A G6” so damn much. Then just last week the news broke, Flow was bought by CTV for $27 million.
It’s not the same station anymore. The new tagline is “hip hop, dance, and R&B”, with the emphasis on dance. The soca and reggae shows are gone, the Big Tigger show is gone, and what made the station different in the past, the emphasis on real R&B and hip-hop, is gone. It’s become another pop station, playing pop urban music, not the real stuff. Thankfully, in my car I can get a pretty good signal for BLK and jam to that when I can. That’s the station where I hear the stuff that’s not mainstream, the stuff that the American’s are listening to.
I’m not the only one that’s upset, everyone that I talk to is angry about the changes. Many on air personalities and people behind the scenes have been fired, and the changes can be heard as soon as you turn it on. People in Toronto love urban music too, and now we have no place to listen to it – again.
What’s the alternative? With the Internet, radio from all over the world is accessible. I went through a phase where I would listen to Angie Martinez on Hot 97 in NYC every afternoon. There’s YouTube and blogs where you could hear the newest songs. In the car, I either plug my iPod in to the radio, or listen to a CD. It’s sad, because in the States there are so many urban stations, and Toronto had one for ten years and now it’s gone.
I’m disappointed that the original Flow is gone, but I’m not holding my breath for a new urban station to pop up any time soon. Just like we did in the 90’s, we’ll have to listen to a scratchy BLK from Buffalo to hear the good music.