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Fresh Listen: KDAY, Power 106, Real 92.3 Los Angeles

Wild 93.5 KDAY Classic Hip-Hop Back In The Day KDEY Los Angeles

Throughout its history on AM and FM, KDAY Los Angeles has been both venerable and vulnerable.

The original 1580 KDAY may have been a key proponent of West Coast hip-hop, but it went away in 1991, thwarted by the issues of being a music station on AM, especially one sometimes more easily heard in Hawaii at night than in parts of its own market. KDAY’s departure helped propel the segue of rival KPWR (Power 106) from dance to the Hip-Hop powerhouse that it became for 25 years.

93.5 KDAY Los Angeles, the FM station that revived the calls and introduced the Classic Hip-Hop format in 2004, posted modest initial ratings and would itself drift through Rhythmic Top 40, Urban, and even Urban AC. It was headed for a sale to new owners and a format change to Spanish but that deal fell through; Meruelo Media bought it in 2013 and recommitted to Classic Hip-Hop.

Four years later, KDAY has outlasted many of the various nationwide attempts at a Classic Hip-Hop format, including some that briefly posted much bigger 12-plus shares than either a music AM or signal-challenged FM could ever hope to muster. Now, Meruelo has emerged again to purchase Power 106 from Emmis, making KDAY an unlikely winner in KPWR’s war of attrition with iHeart Radio’s KRRL (Real 92.3).

(Another winner is CBS’s KTWV [The Wave], which picked up Jammin’ Oldies/Urban AC when iHeart took the former KHHT to Urban and has been a bigger winner than either Hip-Hop station. In Nielsen’s April PPM numbers, released Monday, KTWV had a 5.5 share, just edging the combined KRRL (2.8) and KPWR (2.6). KDAY had a 1.3.

KDAY seems like an obvious candidate for worldwide streaming success, which may be precisely why the station is seemingly geoblocked. For those stations with specialty formats not available in every area,  subsidized streaming to the world has become a burden, not an opportunity. ‘50s/’60s oldies WMTR Morristown, N.J., gave up streaming. Summit Media geoblocked its Hawaiian-formatted stations, and eventually all its streaming, offering KCCN outside the region by subscription only. (For some reason, both KCCN and KINE are working outside their usual area tonight.)

After a reader bemoaned KDAY being geoblocked (and asked if a similar fate was in store for Power), we decided it was time to take a “Fresh Listen” to both stations, as well as Real 92.3.

Meruelo Group Power 106 105.9 KPWR Los Angeles KDAY EmmisWhen the Power 106/Real 92.3 battle erupted, starting with the defection of Power morning host Big Boy, Power was in the process of venturing into the poppier side of the Rhythmic Top 40 format. Real offered the prospect of a home for the mainstream R&B hits that differentiate that format from Rhythmic Top 40.

Now the differences are subtle. Real 92.3 is playing three top 10 Urban hits that aren’t on Power, by Khalid, 2 Chainz, and Gospel/Hip-Hop phenom Lecrae. But only 2 Chainz is receiving more than two spins a day. Real 92.3 isn’t playing Kyle’s “I Spy” at the moment, but it got past 300 spins on it, and Power is currently playing it but backing it off as well. Power bills itself as “No. 1 for Hip-Hop” and “Where Hip-Hop Lives.” Real 92.3 is “L.A.’s Home for Hip-Hop.”

Real 92.3 KRRL Los Angeles DJ CarismaPower and Real obviously share a number of songs during the course of the hour. But listening on Friday afternoon, I also happened across some overlap between KDAY and Power. Both Power and Real 92.3 had a ‘90s throwback component that hasn’t disappeared from either station, although it will be interesting to see how Power and KDAY align themselves now. 

Here are monitors of the three stations from 3 p.m. last Friday:

KDAY, May 12, 3 p.m.

  • The Inc., “Down 4 U”
  • Jay-Z, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”
  • 50 Cent, “Just a Little Bit”
  • N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton”
  • Nice & Wild, “Diamond Girl”
  • Last Boyz, “Music Makes Me High” (after stager with a movie drop about being high)
  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, “Tha Crossroads”
  • Donell Jones, “U Know What’s Up” (with Lisa Left Eye rap, not usually heard when the song plays in its regular forum, Urban AC radio)
  • Lil Wayne, “Mrs. Officer”
  • 2Pac, “I Get Around”
  • T-Pain, “I’m n Luv (Wit a Stripper)”
  • Masta Ace Incorporated, “The I.N.C. Ride”

KPWR, May 12, 3 p.m.

  • Big Sean, “Bounce Back”
  • Gucci Mane f/Drake & Lil Wayne, “Both”
  • Kanye West, “All Falls Down”
  • Travis Scott, “Goosebumps”
  • Future f/the Weeknd, “Low Life”
  • Childish Gambino, “Redbone”
  • Wiz Khalifa, “We Dem Boyz”
  • Drake, “Passionfruit”
  • Lil Wayne, “Mrs. Officer”
  • The Game f/Jeremih, “All Eyez”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.”
  • Ice Cube, “It Was a Good Day”
  • DJ Mustard f/Quavo & YG, “Want Her”

KRRL (Real 92.3), May 12, 3 p.m.

  • Travis Scott, “Goosebumps”
  • Notorious B.I.G., “Juicy”
  • The Game f/Jeremih, “All Eyez”
  • Yo Gotti, “Down In The DM”
  • Gucci Mane f/Drake & Lil Wayne, “Both”
  • Luniz, “I Got 5 on It”
  • Future, “Mask Off”
  • Rae Sremmurd, “Black Beatles”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.”
  • 2Pac, “Ambitionz az a Ridah”
  • Drake, “Passionfruit”
  • SZA f/Travis Scott, “Love Galore”

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Sean Ross is author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming of Edison Research.

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