Few have attempted, fewer have succeeded. But why?
For the past few weeks, the absence of a designated hip hop radio station has been a priority, as if somehow we all collectively wake up, look around and realize that there is had a gaping hole in the shape of hip hop where a new Vancouver radio station should be.
Canadian creative incubators, like La Mar Taylor’s HXOUSE in Toronto, are a testament to the current musical landscape in Canada. Culture makers and people at the forefront of what’s cool and exciting are pouring their time and energy into hip hop and rap, with new artists launching their careers in this genre all the time, so clearly it there is a demand for this style of music in this country, but what about this city, specifically?
Why doesn’t Vancouver have a hip-hop radio station?
There are many theories floating around, the main one being that CRTC requirements make it difficult for a station to exclusively air hip hop and rap.
The rule established by the CRTC stipulates that 60% of annual programming and 50% of daily content broadcast between 6 p.m. and midnight must be of Canadian origin and the prevailing opinion is that there was not enough hip- Canadian hop to fill this time.
A quick Google search for “Canadian hip hop artists” yields 50 results at the top of the page (not including Nelly Furtado) with names like Drake, The Weeknd, Haviah Mighty, Masia One and Kardinal Offishall to name a few. -ones. .
So it doesn’t seem like quantity is an issue, and even if it was, the top 40 radio stations play the same songs all day anyway, so why couldn’t a hip-hop station not do it?
In 2000, 94.5 (The Beat) was rebranded from a travel and news station to an “urban contemporary” format, a term popularized by New York DJ Frankie Crocker as synonymous with black music at the time. Over the next three years, 94.5 shifted into rhythmic contemporary which is a combination of EDM, pop, hip hop and R&B.
This was a short-lived phase for the station and in September 2004 hip hop and R&B were drastically reduced in favor of Top 40 Contemporary Hit Radio which at the time was all pop music. It was, however, the only Top 40 station in British Columbia until 2007.
Despite hip hop and rap’s growing popularity on the mainstream charts, there is still relatively little of it on the airwaves in Vancouver.
Community radio stations like SFU (CJSF 90.1FM), UBC (CiTR 101.9FM) and Vancouver Co-operative Radio (CRFO 100.5FM) offer a more diverse range of music that includes hip hop. CJSF 90.1FM has a dedicated hip hop radio show, but only one segment airs in prime time at 8 p.m. Thursday, the other two at 1 a.m. Tuesday, and between midnight and 5 a.m. Sunday.
Another theory explaining why there is no dedicated station is that of ratings. It’s no secret that radio has struggled to stay relevant over the past decade as streaming services and satellite radio have opened up people’s options with fewer commercials interrupting the music. Top 40 may be the best option to maintain an optimal level of listeners and advertising dollars, but that would not take into account the volume of alternative, rock, country, jazz, classical and talk radio stations that we have to Vancouver and British Columbia.
There are 26 radio stations in Vancouver and over 500 in British Columbia that air a variety of programming, none of which is devoted to hip hop and rap.
In an emailed statement to Vancouver Is Awesome, the CRTC said:
Applications for commercial radio stations generally go through a public process or, in some cases, through a competitive process open to comment. Each request is analyzed on its own merits and a review is carried out according to a specific process. During the process, the Commission generally considers a large number of factors (including the ability of the market to support a station, technical parameters and coverage, competitive balance within the market, diversity of voices, local programming , format (note: the CRTC does not regulate radio formats unless the station has a condition of license to that effect), financial projections and viability, population/community served, to name a few Once the process is complete, the Board renders a decision in light of all factors and issues a decision.
Toronto has a hip-hop radio station (Flow 98.7FM) like other provinces, but the CRTC couldn’t or wouldn’t comment on whether it had received or rejected proposals for hip-hop stations in Vancouver. It is therefore possible that the desire to start one is weak.
It should also be noted that Seattle, close to us in proximity and culture, had two dedicated stations but one closed recently. This loss could point to evidence supporting some of the theories at play in the Vancouver market, but the lack of hip-hop stations could be down to a number of factors and no one is ready to raise their hands. and to say with certainty.
Sad news for Vancouver hip-hop fans.