Urban adult contemporary (often abbreviated as urban AC) is the name
for a format of radio music, similar to an urban contemporary format.
Radio stations using this format usually would not have hip hop music
on their playlists, and generally include some mix of contemporary
R&B and traditional R&B (while urban oldies stations emphasize
only the latter).
2 Urban oldies
3 See also
The format usually would play some classic R&B hits, as well as
hits that are ten years old or more. Classic dance 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 during the
Quiet Storm program. Many of the urban
AC radio stations implement slogans such as "Classic Soul & Smooth
R&B", "(City/Region)'s Old School New School House Party Station",
"The Best Mix of Soft R&B", and "(City/Region)'s R&B Leader."
Some popular nicknames for urban oldies stations include "Magic"
(borrowed from the "Magic" adult contemporary format), "Mix" (from the
Hot AC format), "Star" and "Kiss FM" (borrowed from common Clear
Channel branding KISS-FM).
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.
in New York City) introduced the first 24-hour classic soul radio
station in the country. Urban AC stations usually target the 18-49 and
25-54 age groups.
Many Urban AC stations rely heavily on syndicated programming such as
The Steve Harvey Morning Show, and The
D.L. Hughley Show. Cumulus
Media Networks also operates a 24/7 Urban AC format delivered to
affiliated stations via satellite, called "The Touch" (The Best
Variety of Hits and Oldies), which is common on smaller- and
medium-market stations featuring the Urban AC format.
Los Angeles is one of the urban AC stations with its
playlist heavy on current material.
"Urban oldies" refers to R&B music dating back to the late
1950s/early 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 rhythmic oldies,
which attracts both white and black listeners, as well as Latino
listeners (particularly in the American Southwest). One of the first
stations to play this type of music was
WRKS-FM (98.7 Kiss FM). In
Emmis Broadcasting transformed Kiss FM as the first
station to urban oldies 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/1960s/1970s. WDGS-AM in the Louisville market had a full-range
Urban AC format, with no rap music, as early as 1985. WDGS neatly
substituted Jazz, Blues and Urban/Soul Gold for the 35% of the
playlists that were rap/hip-hop at the time, while playing 65% non-rap
Urban currents, to wide acclaim.
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. 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,
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 hip hop 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 103.5 in Memphis, WNPL in
New Orleans and WPLZ in Richmond.
In addition to WRBO, urban oldies stations include
WATV (AM) in
KAJM in Phoenix, and
KHLR in Little Rock. Some
urban oldies stations refer to this format as "old school," for
example, WFUN in
St. Louis and
WOSL in Cincinnati.
Rhythm and blues
Adult R&B Songs
^ Carrie Borzillo AM Gives R&B rhythm blues Oldies a New Lease on
Life Billboard, 3/26/94,
^ Sean Ross, R&B rhythm blues Oldies Format On The RiseBillboard,
03/06/99, p. 28.
^ Mediaguide.com, archive of 2008/12/25.
^ Search results for "old school" on Radioinsight.com. Retrieved 7