It's been 50 years since DJ Kool Herc and his sister threw a party in the Bronx that became the birthplace of Hip Hop music. Since then, Hip Hop has expanded to people's homes all over the world, whether it's the music they listen to, the clothes they wear, or the way they talk. Given the enormity of Hip Hop's influence, the audio giant Audacy is celebrating the milestone anniversary over the course of an entire year with an initiative known as Hip Hop Made.
This is the first time that Audacy has celebrated any music genre over such a lengthy time span, said Mike Street, the Brand Manager at 106.5 The Beat in Richmond, VA. He's spearheading the project with Dave Richards, Audacy's Senior Vice President of Programming. They started talking about nine months ago about the passion and purpose of the celebration -- and their desire to curate content across all of Audacy's channels, including radio, social media, websites and podcasts.
"We even have some of our news talk stations and our sports stations involved with the acquisition of content," Richards noted. They're focused on how Hip Hop has affected people's lives.
"When we have the athletes come into a sports station, who better to talk about Hip Hop?" Street said. "Hip Hop affects so many people that you don't have to box it. You don't have to localize it."
"We're trying not to turn off people who may not be Hip Hop heads, but at the same time not disrespecting those who are," Richards added.
Everyone working on the initiative behind the scenes has some connection to Hip Hop, whether they're subject-matter experts, knowledgeable about the genre's history, or aware of its cultural influence. While bringing a huge level of authenticity to the effort, the team had to figure out how to take their random or intentional conversations about the culture of Hip Hop and transfer them to an engaging format for their audience.
It was clear that the project couldn't be a light effort. "The idea was to create an entire year, because if we are good at anything, it's celebrating something that started out small in the biggest way," Richards explained.
The team wanted to show how Hip Hop has impacted different people through different eras, and the different experiences that are part of Hip Hop's history. One wave of content will be distributed on podcasts, local stations, and social media. Other waves include events in just about every city where Audacy has a presence.
Audiences will have a chance to vote on a number of different things, such as the top 10 rappers ever, the top 10 Hip Hop albums of the '80s, the top 10 artists from New York, and the top 10 Hip Hop songs ever. The aim is to spark debate and conversation.
As excited and passionate as the Audacy team is about the initiative, they also don't want their audiences to feel bothered by the emphasis on Hip Hop. Instead, they want the effort to be a celebration of culture and to reacquaint their audience, directly or indirectly, with the nostalgic feeling of a phenomenon that's been around for 50 years.
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