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How the ‘Nelly 1057′ Stunt Proves Radio’s Lasting Importance [OPINION]

Nelly 1057
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Let’s put this out there right up front, you’re reading this on the website for a terrestiral radio station written by someone who hosts a daily radio show, so, yeah, I’m biased toward the industry that I love and has employed me for over twenty years.

A California radio station, Latino Mix 100.7/105.7(KVVZ San Rafael/KVVF Santa Clara), set the internet ablaze by playing ‘Hot in Herre’ by the rapper Nelly on repeat for more than 24 hours.

What’s it all about? It’s what’s known in radio jargon as a ‘stunt,’ attention-getting programming that leads up to a format flip. In this case, the radio station is flipping to a Rhythmic format, Hot 100.7/105.7. Format flips, and the stunts that accompany them are not uncommon. In fact, an entire website is devoted to the art of changing a radio station from one flavor to another.

"When was the last time a Spotify playlist or custom-crafted Pandora station elicited this level of attention?"

So what’s different about Nelly 1057? The radio station’s stunt has gone viral, with #nelly1057 becoming a top trending topic on Twitter and Facebook. I suspect the viralality has to do with the fact these stations broadcast in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area – you know, the hot bed of tech where everyone has their ear buds plugged into an iPod or listening to Pandora or Spotify. Except Friday March 14, 2014 apparently, when a terrestrial broadcaster captured first the city’s, then the world’s attention via social media.

The fact that a station’s stunt has garnered so much attention shows radio’s lasting importance to the communities they serve and our culture in general.

Peruse this reddit thread on /r/music called “A Latin radio station out in California has been playing “Hot in Herre” by Nelly since 3 PM for some reason and nobody seems to know why,” and you’ll see hundreds of comments filled with recollections of other memorable broadcasts from across the country. When was the last time a Spotify playlist or your custom-crafted Pandora station elicited this level of attention?

Critics of broadcast radio like to point to the ‘faceless corporate overlords’ who dictate homogeneous playlists and stifle all fun and creativity from the industry, yet this wildly viral stunt was pulled off by one of America’s major broadcasters, Univision, which owns television and radio stations in dozens of cities.

Does the radio industry need to find a way to address the on-demand ‘I want to hear what I want when I want’ pull of new technology? Of course. But, the attention garnered by Nelly 105.7 shows there’s still plenty of magic emanating from those transmitter towers that dot the landscapes of America.

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