And then there was one. The debate over which of Dallas' two new classic hip-hop stations is the best has already reached its (perhaps inevitable) conclusion, just a lot sooner than most of us would've expected. HOT 93.3 FM, which suddenly started playing old-school hip hop early last month at exactly the same time that BOOM 94.5 kicked off a similar format, had advertised the change as "Hip-Hop Holidays." But within days of Thanksgiving having passed (which, by our count, doesn't include all of the holidays) the station has changed course once again.
If you've tuned in to 93.3 at all this week expecting to hear some more of the '90s and early '00s jams you've become accustomed to in recent weeks, you were probably disappointed. The "classics" haven't entirely gone away yet -- you can still catch "California Dreamin'" imixed in with all those rotations of "Studio" and "Don't Tell 'Em" -- it's just that they've taken a backseat to a new format that's heavier on contemporary pop and R&B. The station has continued to advertise its "Holiday Hip Hop" theme, although at this point the idea behind it has become even more ill-defined than before.
As had happened when 93.3 initially switched formats last month, requests for comment have not be returned.
Looking at things from the outside, it would appear as though the Cumulus-owned station is struggling to figure out its place in the market. It had previously been known as a Top 40 hits station, which is all fine and dandy. (Sorry, we're not such big snobs that we don't indulge ourselves in some guilty pop pleasures every now and then.) Back in October they'd changed names from i93 to HOT 93.3, with the format change following in November -- likely an attempt to capitalize on the similar change over at 94.5.
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The classic hip-hop concept is beginning to take hold in different cities around the country. In 93.3's case, however, the whole "holiday" theme, combined with the lack of any public message, always made theirs feel like a half-hearted, even opportunistic, effort. Changing formats again so quickly after that suggests they've already given up on owning that side of the market. But witching to a contemporary pop-R&B-hip-hop format doesn't exactly leave them without competition: K104 and 97.9 The Beat already have that corner of the market covered. Good luck on that one, guys.
But all is hardly lost. 94.5, which arguably was always the stronger of the two classic stations (it certainly had the cred amongst true hip-hop heads for its deep cuts), is alive and well, with no signs of giving up on their format any time soon. We're always happy having options, but at least for the time being, it would appear that there can be only one.
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