Since its earliest appearances on vinyl, hiphop has endured a stressful relationship with radio. In the early ’90s, it led to the urban radio split, when stations had to decide whether to drop rap from their playlists to hold on to their adult audiences (a la WHUR or WMMJ) or play it and appeal to a mostly younger crowd (WKYS, WPGC). Even then, stations that stuck with hiphop limited its play to afternoon and evening airshifts. Through it all, hiphop has proved it doesn’t need lots of radio support to survive. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pursued.
In her response (The Mail, 11/19) to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article “Air Waived” (11/12), WPFW Programming Assistant April Watts attempts to portray Coates and the members of The Soul Controller Mixshow as lacking in “professional standards.” However, her remarks only serve to reflect the hypocrisy found at all levels of this “community” station.
Watts attacks our credibility, saying we failed to follow “proper procedure” when attempting to bring The Soul Controller Mixshow to WPFW. For the record, we pitched the show to program director Lou Hankins in the fall of 1997, months before Watts became a WPFW volunteer. (She joined the station in February 1998.) She has no knowledge of what protocol we followed, because, at that point, she wasn’t even there.
Failing to conduct even the most basic research in making her claims against the Soul Controllers, Watts then accuses Coates of having poor journalistic values.
Should Hankins’ foul-mouthed tirade against hiphop be excused because the author obtained the quote outside of the office? Considering Hankins’ historically dismissive posture toward questions critical of his programming, Coates should be commended for going the extra mile to thoroughly research our statements criticizing Hankins.
As the oldest hiphop show in this area currently on the air, we do see ourselves as the voice of D.C.’s hiphop underground, but we’ve never claimed to be its only source. This city is deep in hiphop talent and lovers of the music; unfortunately, commercial and “community” radio does not see value in reaching this audience. “As an MC and lover of hiphop music,” Watts should be among those who find that detail troubling, in spite of her dislike of our crew and show, which she’s probably never heard.
Even if the Soul Controllers don’t deserve a show on a major signal, Washington’s hiphop fans do.
Co-Host and Engineer
The Soul Controller Mixshow