Thursday, April 11, 2013

RIP KDAY: The Last of a Dying Breed

By now, most of you have heard that my city's last great hip hop radio station is possibly going to be sold this year and flip to a Mandarin-language format. KDAY, which came back in 2004, might be officially on life support and I couldn't be sadder.

As a native Angeleno, I grew up in the shadow of hearing KDAY as I got older. I listened to 92.3 The Beat and Power 106 but I knew neither of those stations would be possible without KDAY in the 1980's giving Los Angeles great hip hop and exposing folks to NWA, Ice-T, DJ Quik, Rodney O & Joe Cooley and so many other local legends.

I used to drive down Crenshaw Boulevard going to school and I passed by the old 1580 KDAY offices every time. KDAY was the first station in the country to play all hip-hop and even when it went off the air in 1991, its legacy loomed large when I talked to older friends and family members.

That's why in 2004-05, I was so happy when I heard KDAY was coming back. It gave me a chance to appreciate a radio station that showed love to L.A. as well as old school hip hop. I came home from college and during the winters and summers, I'd listen to Julio G showing love to national acts as well as local.

I remember one night driving home hearing him play Dilated Peoples "You Can't Run, You Can't Hide" and being hyped hearing Julio bug out over DJ Babu's scratching at the end of it.

When I moved back home and started listening to my iPod, KDAY became one of the few stations I'd listen to. As Power 106 changed with mainstream urban music and The Beat faded away after some changes, KDAY was a shot of adrenaline because it played classic hip-hop/R&B and they were more interesting to hear than most of the current stuff.

It was also refreshing to hear 80's and 90's records or records from Los Angeles artists because besides Miguel/Kendrick Lamar, you don't hear that much on the radio now. They also promoted great shows that highlighted the best of the West Coast as well as other classic artists or the Rock the Bells festival.

Julio G, along with Greg Mack, might be the most famous KDAY personality and I'm indebted to him keeping up the West Coast hip hop legacy alive.
It got even better when KDAY brought back Julio G this year to play "Westside Radio" - two hours of Los Angeles music every Sunday night mixed in with classic interviews and Julio's stories about certain artists. It became a throwback to an era when the DJ mattered as much as the music and besides KROQ, I don't get that feeling anymore on LA radio.

But I guess those days won't last long. I know older folks who remembered KDAY who said the current station had an identity crisis with their playlist (something this article touches on). For me at least, KDAY is the last of an era when you got to hear a diverse range of artists for urban music. It's also one less radio station that I'll hear when I want a break from sports talk radio.

LA Weekly did a great piece on them last year. Unless something changes, I'll miss KDAY and seeing the outpouring of love from folks on a national level lets me know how lucky I was that I got to grow as an adult with it. A blast from the past that felt good while it lasted.

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