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thoughts on the station formerly known as Choice FM + no reggae? Really?

I wasn't even going to write a post about the now defunct Choice FM as there wasn't anything for me to say that I hadn't said on Twitter or others (check Gentrification Killed Choice FM and Why We Should Mourn Choice FM). Howwwever, a few things caused this post. I listened to Dotun Adebayo's show on BBC Radio London last night and a tweet by one of the formerly known as Choice FM's DJ, Max.

Starting with the above tweet's... actually, let me start off by saying I have no problem with Max. I wouldn't say I know her, but we are cool. She made sure I got an interview with Trey Songz when the PR wasn't sure if they had time for me so I respect for her. Also respect what she's achieved in the industry. Doesn't mean her tweets can't be contested though. And I'd say everything I'm about to write to her. Lastly, I mean no disrespect to her as a person. (I hate doing these disclaimers, but I feel I have to cos things don't get blown out of proportion. Text is easy to misinterpret.)

Now that's out the way, first off, she's from midlands. Choice FM's history is primarily London so I don't think she has the same attachment to the station us Londoners do. Easy to understand. But she's tweeted sentiments quite few others have. "Oh, it's just a name change. It'll be urban business as usual but on a bigger scale." Except it isn't. You see this is what happens when people forget, don't know or don't acknowledge the roots.

This, ladies and gentleman, is proof the "urbxn" word is the devil. Accepting the word urban as a substitute for black music was the worst thing ever. We don't have rural music or suburban music for ethnic majorities, why urban? Asian's have Asian station, why can't we have a black or African and Caribbean one(s)? Choice FM was built on the foundations of providing music to the black population, a predominantly Caribbean. That isn't to say only black people should listen to it, but it was there to cater to those needs and interests.

This new guise of "urban dance", adding EDM DJ, Avicii, and cutting off the Caribbean links feels like a slap in the face to the community that are responsible for building the brand. Admittedly, I'm one of many who switched off years ago once able to source and control my own music mainly down to Choice no longer catering for people like me who don't want to hear the same twelve similar pop (be it hip hop or r&b) songs on repeat shuffle - my iPod does a better job. They forced me to leave.

Me switching over may have  some of you asking "What you complaining about then? You contributed to dwindling figures nor do you don't listen anyway so 'llow it, innit?" Thinking beyond myself, it allowed those who aren't as savvy to find the music or going raving but have an interest.

So, it's more than a name change. They aren't serving the culture they are meant to or what we know them to. Another one of our mediums bites the dust. don't forget MOBOs aka Brit Awards Xtra (stolen from @DJFiremanSam) is this month too.

Now to the statement Daddy Ernie says on the Dotun Adebayo show about what he was told by the station: "Afrobeats is more popular than reggae". I knew this day would come. I have no problem with afrobeats. It's mad, some people assume I hate it because I love reggae and Jamaican. I don't. But yeah, I would like to know what this is based on. Black clubs in London? Probably to some extent. There are loads of Africans in London so that's natural. But you can still attend clubs in London and not hear Afrobeats bar 3 songs. Outside the M25 is a different story too. Sales of reggae surpass Afrobeats nationwide factually.

But to the core of the issue, who are they to suggest its one or the other? Black people in London and England are mostly African and Caribbean. There's never a discussion of hip hop or r&b, so why for our cultures music? Reggae has gone from shows on every day on Choice to nothing in the space of a decade. There isn't a space on one of the weekends mix shows for a bashment, reggae and soca 2-hour show? Not even after the popular 11pm afrobeats show? I refuse to believe this. In times where reggae, dub and dancehall nights happen at universities across the land and pop acts are embracing it more than recent times? Not to mention the new wave of reggae artists coming through. If it takes off we'll see them jump back on the wagon.

I'm not naive to the fact reggae and dancehall don't warrant the prominent 5-days-a-week prime time slot it held down until about ten years ago or ignorant to the commercial properties involved in radio and that malark, but I'm definitely not stupid enough to believe it doesn't deserve even an hour on 24/7 radio schedule. (Graveyard shows aren't anywhere as bad as they were due to listen back features.)

Dotun kept saying/playing Devil's advocate (poorly) that reggae doesn't deserve a space. Sadly, his listeners weren't able to convey why themselves, especially not Daddy Ernie, but that's a story for another day. Dropping DJs isn't bad, dropping genres is. I'll tell you why it does. It's still one of the most popular forms of black music. Only hip hop and r&b sell more in this country. Rodigan's departure from Kiss FM caused uproar for good reason. He is now primetime Sunday on BBC Radio 1Xtra for a reason. Robbo Ranx still get's good listenership on 1Xtra. It still burns down clubs when played. It still contributes to pop music. Most recent example is Ellie Goulding's first UK #1 and international hit "Burn".

And if you didn't get my point, reggae won't die as long as it still a force in club nights across the nation. As it already is. The Heatwave sold out Koko in Camden (1.5k+ capacity) on their own. Rodigan host tents at festivals. The people raving matter much more than a small group who decide what plays on radio. They are the real tastemakers. Majority rules.

We know that Afrobeats will be gone in a few year if it doesn't continue to produce the goods and the station formerly known as Choice will sound like Kiss - unrecognisable from its black music pirate radio roots.

To sum it up, a top guy in the music industry, Lindsay Wesker, breaks down the death of black radio

(I'm in the process of writing a "When did we become urban?" and "Reggae Revival" post. Both would've made sense before this. They will come in the new few days.)


  1. They finally closed the casket on choice fm.. I was a listener I have to admit but only because there was many different type of music and dj's I liked on offer.

    I have listened to capital xtra since it commenced and it's not the same.. I find myself listening to LBC 97.3 in the mornings instead now.. That is a badman station no music just talk lol..

    Can you recommend me a good Morning breakfast show?

    Back to the post, I think Afrobeats will get taken off the radio once the 'popularity' dies!!! So I feel Abrantee's day's are numbered!
    Reggae lives on and always has and always will...


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