The impact of the urban radio audience can go overlooked in today’s public relations and marketing efforts. The perception is that this particular listening group is somehow more difficult to reach than their top-40 counterparts. This perception is trumped by the phenomenon that is urban radio.
Of the top-10 radio markets in the country, seven of them — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington, DC, and Atlanta — have an urban formatted station at or near the top of their local FM stations, in terms of listenership figures.
This figure means more than it perhaps implies. To achieve numbers of this significance, the stations are reaching an audience that is more than a core group of African American citizens. These numbers reflect the influence of the hip-hop culture on groups of all ethnicities. As a result, reaching out to the Urban radio audience can result in reaching an audience across social and fiscal strata. In fact, the Urban radio market might have become the new American general consumer market.
However, the importance of reaching the African American audience should not be overlooked, along with the issues that affect this audience. The lack of a thorough distribution of important medical, monetary and social information is often cited by community leaders as contributing to the problems that remain prevalent in certain cultures. For example, in February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said black men had a life expectancy of 69.2 years in 2003, compared to 75.4 years for white men. This fact is partially attributed to a faulty system of providing important medical advice to African American men.
Urban radio has a powerful voice that is being under-utilized. Prominent DJs carry an important message for their audiences and community. By using these outlets, Urban radio can continue its dynamic force in pop culture today.