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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So, Is the New 93.7 FM The Beat Any Good?

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When KPTY Party 93.3 signed off for the last time in March 2009, who knew it would be almost another five years before the city of Houston would see another fully developed hip-hop/R&B station in its aerospace? In other words, hip-hop fans in the city have been longing for such a move since KBXX 97.9 The Box began its long-standing stranglehold on the airwaves.

REWIND: 93.7 FM Now Marching to a New Beat


Then Tuesday afternoon, the change came -- swiftly. After a 20-year run as KKRW 93.7, and struggling with a sizable lag in ratings against 106.9 The Eagle, The Arrow ditched its classic-rock format and became 93.7 The Beat, rebranding itself as a hip-hop/R&B outfit and immediately began sending threats down the airwaves: "We are freeing you from that Box you've been subjected to."

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93.7 FM Now Marching to a New Beat

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As many of you now know, around noon today 93.7 FM ceased to become a classic-rock station -- good riddance, some say -- and flipped formats to hip-hop and R&B, rechristening itself "The Beat."

Thus far, according to 937thebeathouston.com, songs have included Sevyn Streeter and Chris Brown's "It Won't Stop," Slim Thug and Z-RO's "Summertime," Hustle Gang's "Memories Back Then," Drake and Rick Ross's "Hold On, We're Going Home" and Destiny's Child's "Soldier."

Rocks Off has a radio specialist now monitoring The Beat and will report our findings New Year's Day. Happy New Year!


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radio

UPDATED: Houston's Best Internet Radio Stations

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Optimo Radio: Houston's one-stop rap shop.
UPDATE (Friday, 9:30 a.m.): Corrects Rock 101's mobile-app notation to "Yes."

Much like newspapers, radio has been irrevocably changed by the rise of the Internet. With broadband broadly available, there are fewer and fewer reasons to flip on the dial, so even giants like Clear Channel have added Web-based platforms like IHeartRadio to replace lost terrestrial listeners, offer more variety, gobble up even more revenue, or most likely some combination of the three.

Last week Apple took it even further by introducing streaming radio to its latest iTunes upgrade, and a few days before that the somewhat awkwardly named Musicradio Bop '70s station signed on as the newest member of the Houston-based Bop Radio family. As an Internet station, though -- no air breaks, no local ads -- of course you might never know it was based in Houston.

That got us thinking that it might be a good time to see how many other Internet stations we have in our midst, so the past few days Rocks Off has been seeking out and sampling as many as we can find. (If we missed one or two, just let us know.) Good thing, because our recent experiment listening to KRBE all day long might have put us off radio for good.


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One Grumpy Editor. Houston's No. 1 Hit Music Station. All Damn Day.

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You know you want it...
Generally I become more and more skeptical about what's "hot." This is also known as "getting older" or, to paraphrase Chris Rock, not wanting to be the old guy in the club. But for me that skepticism has always come with a certain morbid curiosity about what makes some songs so popular and why. This time it was "Blurred Lines."

All the coverage surrounding the No. 1 song (or its supposedly controversial video, mostly) these past few weeks eventually got the better of me. I listened to it, I loved it, I downloaded it. Whether or not they lifted the idea from Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke and his collaborators have created an irresistible piece of ear candy that also happens to be a pretty complex bit of musical engineering. It's fun, sophisticated, sexy; in other words, everything I assumed Top 40 radio had abandoned in the wake of all that twerking and po-faced acoustic folk-pop.

Thus I decided I would spend an entire workday listening to 104.1 KRBE -- a familiar musical barometer from the days it played Tina Turner and Prince all the way through Depeche Mode and New Order, as well as a station I had not listened to for more than a few minutes in years -- and keep a journal. I announced my intentions to a colleague, and he rightly said, "Why would you do that?"


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