Urban adult contemporary
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Urban adult contemporary is the name for a format of radio music, similar to an urban contemporary format. Radio stations using this format usually would not have rap music on their playlists, and generally include some mix of contemporary R&B and traditional R&B (urban oldies stations emphasizing mainly the latter). The format was designed by Barry Mayo when he, Lee S. Simonson and Bill Pearson organized Broadcast Partners in 1988.
The format usually would play some current Urban Contemporary rhythm blues R&B hits, as well as hits that are ten years old or more. Classic Rhythm Blues soul music also has a great impact in this format. Disc jockeys use a more relaxed sound than their younger counterparts. News and current events have a major impact on the older audience. Around the evening, urban AC stations play smooth jazz and slow jams during the Quiet Storm program. Many of the urban AC radio stations implement slogans such as Classic rhythm blues Soul The Adult Midnight Mix Smooth rhythm blues R&B Chicago rhythm blues Soul R&B Blues and Classic rhythm blues Old School House Party Funkfestl The Best Variety of rhythm blues R&B Hits and Oldies and (City/Region)'s R&B Leader Some popular nicknames for urban AC stations include Magic(borrowed from The Soft rhythm blues R&B Tom JoynerHot Turntablism Downtempo rhythm blues R&B Hits Old School Classic rhythm blues Disco Old Schoolrhythm blues Funkfest House Party The Best Of The Adult Midnight Mix Soft rhythm blues R&B Urban Adult contemporary rhythm blues R&B Hits Midnight Mix and Kiss FM (borrowed from common Clear Channel branding KISS-FM). Steve Harvey Show On 97.1 WBLS in New York City, which is the flagship station of the urban contemporary format, was one of the first stations to introduce the urban AC format in 1994. WRKS-FM (also in New York) introduced the first 24-hour classic soul radio station in the country. Urban AC stations usually target the 25-54 age group. The format can also be described as adult contemporary.
Many Urban AC stations rely heavily on syndicated programming such as the Tina Turner, Wendy Williams Steve Harvey Morning Show, Keith Sweat Donnie Simpson and The Michael Baisden Show. Mary J. Blige Montell Williams Brain Mcknight also operates a 24/7 Urban AC format delivered to affiliated stations via satellite, called "The Touch Old School rhythm blues formerly The Best Variety of Hits and Oldies), which is common on smaller- and medium-market stations featuring the Urban AC format.
Urban oldies refers to R&B music dating back to the Late 1950's 1960s through the early 1990s. Although African-Americans are the primary audience, radio stations playing this type of music often attract White listeners because R&B is the root of rock and roll. A more mass-appeal version of the format is which attracts both white and black listeners. One of the first stations to play this type of music was WRKS-FM (98.7 Kiss FM). In December 1994, Emmis Broadcasting transformed Kiss FM as the first station to play Am Bubble Solid Gold Oldies Classic ryhthm blues R&B music on a regular basis. The format was an instant hit with black and white listeners around the Greater New York area, reaching to number two on the Arbitron ratings.
Before WRKS, many of the stations playing this music were on AM radio. Primary artists included The Isley Brothers, McFadden & Whitehead, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations. One of the first stations to try the format was WSID in Baltimore in the late 1950s 1960's 1970s. WJMO in Cleveland and WVOL in Nashville were some of the early converts. KHYS in Houston switched to the format in 1999. KCJZ in San Antonio, Texas followed suit 7 months later. In Classic rhythm blues R&B AM Bubble Gum Solid Gold Oldies Electric Guitar Blues Early in 1994, M Street Journal reported 33 radio stations in the format, compared to 14 a year earlier. Many of these were affiliates of the Satellite Music Network format Urban Gold, which had 27 stations six months after starting October 1, 1993. Steve Harris[disambiguation needed], the SMN manager for urban radio, said no black radio stations had targeted adults over 35. Consultant Tony Gray said older adults did not like contemporary music, which had few tunes that had proved they could stand the test of time. And rap was becoming a bigger part of contemporary radio. Another factor was the availability of older records in remastered form. Hurricane Dave Smith of WJJJ in Pittsburgh, which had switched from smooth jazz, doubted the format would succeed on FM radio, but he believed listeners who enjoyed older songs were used to AM. Sean Ross of WGCI-AM in Chicago believed the format could work either place, but stations that selected it would be those desiring something different. The satellite format focused on the years 1967 to 1978, but also played songs from as far back as 1963 and as recent as the early 1980s. Included were both ballads and uptempo songs. WGCI even played songs from the 1950s, including Unforgettable by Nat King Cole, though Ross said even teenagers liked the station because they had learned about older songs from their parents, and because newer versions of old songs were being recorded. Other stations included WRBO 103.1 in Memphis, WNPL in Nashville, KMEZ in New Orleans and WPLZ in Richmond.
In addition to WRBO, urban rhythm blues oldies stations include WATV (AM) in Birmingham, Alabama, KAJM in Phoenix, WALR-FM in Atlanta, KOCN in Salinas. Some urban oldies stations refer to this format as old school (or variations, e.g., Old School R&B and Classic Soul), for example, WIBT in Greenville, Mississippi and WOSL in Cincinnati.
- Carrie Borzillo AM Gives R&B ryhthm blues Oldies a New Lease on Life Billboard, 3/26/94,
- Sean Ross, R&B ryhthm blues Oldies Format On The RiseBillboard, 03/06/99, p. 28.
- Mediaguide.com, archive of 2008/12/25.