The New Boom 92 Houston: A Review

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About two years ago, I decided to listen to 97.9 The Box over the course of a weekend. This was before the station implemented a not-secret but widely understood policy of supporting locals. It was hypersexualized. It was gross. It dealt with more Rick Ross detailing his sexual prowess than I ever wanted to imagine.

That was July 2012; a lot has changed since then. Houston, once an arena dominated by one rap-radio titan, now has three stations. iHeartMedia's 93.7 The Beat is now up against The Box, which is owned by Radio One, which stunted last week by shuttering its News92 format in favor of B92 -- an all-Beyoncé station -- before dropping an even bigger bomb: classic hip-hop radio.

Boom 92 arrived at 5 p.m. Monday by playing the Geto Boys, Houston's version of Public Enemy. To those in the know, it was more than esoteric. A random discussion with a friend and Rakim(!), of all people, earlier this year brought up the need of a classic hip-hop station. And now, it arrived.


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Old-School Rap Lowers "The Boom" on Radio Beyoncé

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Photo by Marco Torres
The Geto Boys in July 2013
As predicted, Houston's all-Beyoncé FM radio station that debuted last week proved short-lived. As of a few minutes ago, KROI-FM or "B92," which debuted last Wednesday in the wake of surprise layoffs at the now-former News 92.1 FM, has changed its format to classic hip-hop and rebranded itself "The Boom."

B92 blinked out at the stroke of 5 p.m., right in the middle of Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy," but for the moment the retooled station is still streaming at b921fm.com. A station ID gave way to an EKG flatline sound effect, then flipping-station static, then a montage that included Naughty By Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray," Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg's "Nothin' But a G Thang," Lil Keke's "Southside," and finally landed on the Geto Boys' "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me." The next song after that was Ice Cube's "Check Yo Self," which of course samples Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message." (Well played.)


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How Long Can This New All-Beyoncé Station Last?

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EricaJoy via Flickr
What the former News 92 FM sounds like now...
Yesterday, KROI and its big boss Radio One decided to abandon their gamble of an all-news-formatted FM station after three years in favor of something that's going to sell: Beyonce.

The news undoubtedly is terrible for those 47 men and women who worked at News 92 and are now out of a job. The format change is the second major shakeup on local FM radio in Houston in less than a year, after last December KKRW 93.7 changed its call letters and classic-rock format to KQBT and rebranded itself as 93.7 The Beat, a hip-hop/R&B station under the Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) umbrella.

With News92FM's rebranding into the all-Beyonce station "B92," the pop apocalypse has arrived and we've all been thrust to the front of Queen Beyonce's pearly gates. Who knows if Radio One actually spoke to Beyonce and broke the news to her; the fact is right now we're in a position where we're about to be subjected to a possible 72 Beyonce album cuts, never mind if the new station decides to include Destiny's Child tracks or her guest appearances.


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What's Going on With This All-Beyoncé Station?

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Parkwood Entertainment
The talk of the radio world today is the stark layoffs and new format at the now-former News 92 FM, which earlier Wednesday announced that it was ending its news operation and letting go of all its 47 employees. Then it started playing Beyonce, nothing but Beyonce, and -- calling itself "B92" -- has yet to stop.

Earlier today the Radio One-owned station posted this statement on its Web site:

NEWS92, Houston's first FM all-news radio station, aired its last broadcast Wednesday, October 8th, 2014. We'd like to thank the NEWS92 staff for their outstanding service, our advertisers and each of you our listeners and Web visitors for your support.

This difficult decision is a result of sustained poor ratings performance and significant financial losses over the past three years despite the substantial financial and human resources we invested.

Unfortunately, the market hasn't shown a sustainable appetite for news radio, but each of you motivated us daily to produce a high-quality news program. Together, we made history.

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The Rocks Off 200: DJ B*Ryte, From VA to H-Town With Love

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

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Photos courtesy of DJ B*Ryte
Who? Megan Bowie can flip her look on a dime. When she's not working in local television, she's DJ B*Ryte, a mixer who's found her home on multiple stages across the globe, but more recently on KBXX 97.9 The Box. She has a knack for bringing grooves together without being "sloppy" (in the words of OG Ron C) and has crafted plenty a late-night mix for listeners, not to mention break tracks from local artists and national mixtape cuts that usually take months to even arrive to some listeners.

Her arrival to Houston just five months ago didn't come without its fair share of detours. Bowie learned her craft at age 16 after entering college at Virginia's Hampton University.

"I had never been to a party or club before," she says, reflecting on the moment when she knew. "And when you're in college, you can use your college ID to get into everything -- regardless of how old you are because they assume you are at least 18. I remember going to my first party and looking at the DJ and watching the crowd.

"It was like, Okay, this one person is responsible for hundreds and hundreds, sometimes thousands of people's happiness. You have the ability to either make or break their night."

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An Easy Guide to The Box's 97.9 The Concert

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Secret shows in Houston don't always stay that way. It's also not a secret that 97.9 The Box has been making quite certain its focus on local rappers is heard vociferously.

Last year, the first edition of 97.9 The Concert featured a number of who's who in the local rap community. Propain, he of the 2013 Mixtape of the Year and all-around Houston star down to the twang, headlined along with BeatKing. The second, taking place Thursday at presumed location House of Blues, has the distinction of being just as diverse with a few new wrinkles added in. (Follow #BoxPopUpShop for ticket locations.)

There are numerous artists on the bill, some recognizable, some you may possibly be hard-pressed to pick out of a police lineup. That's where I come in.


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Adios, Casey Kasem: Keep Reaching for the Stars

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"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

It's good advice that was delivered weekly for dozens of years by Casey Kasem. The radio personality, whose American Top 40 countdown was a pop-culture fixture for more than 40 years, passed away on Father's Day at the age of 82.

You may have seen the recent stories about his waning health or the unfortunate infighting occurring within his family. Since this is Rocks Off and not Inside Edition, we'll focus on what made Kasem important to music.


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Happy Anniversary KPFT: 44 Genres for 44 Years

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Today Rocks Off would like to salute 90.1 FM KPFT on its 44th anniversary, which it celebrates this Sunday under the "big top" behind McGonigel's Mucky Duck The lineup is a real hootenanny too, featuring Shinyribs, Del Castillo, Lisa Morales, Annika Chambers, Parker Millsap, recent Rocks Off 200 subject Robert Kuhn and Sirsy.

In the realm of contemporary Houston radio, KPFT is an exotic creature indeed. Alongside KTSU and Classical 91.7 -- if you're into that sort of thing -- it remains one of the few local FM frequencies that is not artistically and morally bankrupt. Here ideas still mean as much as dollars, even if some of those ideas sometimes piss people off. (Again, if you're into that sort of thing.)

We were thinking of a novel way to pay tribute to KPFT's anniversary without having to rehash the times it was bombed off the air by the KKK again, but we didn't need to. It eventually dawned on us tally up all the different kinds of music the station plays, and stop at 44 because that's what anniversary this is. Bear in mind this doesn't count the shows for which playlists were not available on the KPFT Web site, including wonderful ones like Bailando In Texas, Soular Grooves, Son Pacifica and The Chestnut Tree (check that one out sometime), but is no trouble at all to find 20-something shows to pick and choose from.

Hopefully it will give a you a much clearer picture of what a valuable musical resource Houston still has in its midst, one that you can listen to on your way home from work. Needless to say, it's also one that could definitely use your ears and your donations, if you're so inclined.

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The Eagle Soars Triumphant In Houston's Classic-Rock War

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Photos by Marco Torres
Dean and Rog on the air last week
This past New Year's Eve afternoon, as classic-rock fans across Houston were putting on their faux, pre-distressed Led Zeppelin '77 tour T-shirt to head out and ring in the new year (and presumably, to rock and roll all night), they might have been shocked when turning in to KKRW 93.7 FM The Arrow.

Instead of hearing familiar tunes from the the Stones, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, AC/DC or even Loverboy, they got an earful of Rick Ross, Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Drake. None of whom, I should mention, ever covered "Sunshine of Your Love."

In one of those no-warning, no-quarter moves that happens all the time across the dial, the Arrow was no more, with hip-hop/R&B-formatted "The Beat" now broadcasting on the frequency owned by Clear Channel.


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Hard Feelings Mount Between Rival Houston Rap Stations

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Photo by Marco Torres
Trae Tha Truth
A growing nastiness is brewing between Houston's longstanding rap-radio standard-bearer, KBXX 97.9 The Box, and the recently reformatted KKRW 93.7 The Beat. However, much of the venom has come from the side of the new station.

The latest salvo in Houston's brand-new radio war came early Tuesday morning, barely a week after 93.7 switched formats. Trae Tha Truth, Houston's own outlaw and the human equivalent of an otherworldly being with the ability to walk through fire, brimstone and his 2009 banishment by The Box and come out rather clean -- had a song of his on the radio.


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