Radio Remembers Prince: 'His Music Was Revolutionary'

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Prince performs onstage on Feb. 22, 1985 for the 'Purple Rain Tour' at the Los Angeles Forum in Los Angeles, Calif. 

Those in radio recall an icon who contributed "one of the greatest musical careers in modern history."

The news of Prince's death April 21 caused a wave of remembrance from those in the music industry, along with fans worldwide. Stations across the country honored the pop and R&B icon by playing his music and taking calls from listeners who shared their sorrow.

Notably, with most of Prince's discography not available through most popular streaming services, including Spotify and YouTube, many fans are tuning their dials and turning to online radio to easily access his music.

After his passing was announced, Minneapolis' KCMP (The Current) honored its hometown hero by playing Prince songs non-stop, including his entire 1984 Purple Rain album from start to finish.

Another Minneapolis station, classic hits-formatted KQQL plans to up spins of Prince tracks. Program director Mathew Tell says that the station was "shocked by the tragic news. [A staffer] said how proud we all felt that this incredible talent was one of our own. Prince will be missed, but we will always have his music."

On the East Coast, Raphael George, PD of New York's adult R&B station WNBM, says, "Listeners have been calling to share their stories about Prince. He is one of those artists whose music ignites an energy, an emotion that not many can generate in people. That's what makes him iconic."

Adds George of Prince's musical legacy: "His music was, at the time of his debut, revolutionary. When black radio was moving away from the disco era, Prince dropped songs like 'Soft & Wet' … and it was on from there, from the guitar riffs, synth and drum beats.

"He never changed his music to earn airplay. He is the only, and last, artist from the '70s to consistently offer hits to contemporary R&B radio. Most recently his [2015 track] '1000 X's & O's' received strong rotation on adult R&B radio."

That track, from Prince's September 2015 set HitnRun: Phase One, reached No. 12 on Billboard's Adult R&B Songs chart dated Feb. 6. It was his 23rd entry since the chart began in 1993. He notched two No. 1s on the tally: "Betcha By Golly Wow!" in 1997 and "Call My Name" in 2004. (The latter song earned a Grammy Award for best male r&b vocal performance in 2005.)

Ryan Seacrest, the voice of On Air With Ryan Seacrest and American Top 40, among other high-profile roles, took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Prince:

Peter Rosenberg, air talent at New York's WQHT (Hot 97) host posted his thoughts:

And, Apple Music's Beats 1 host Zane Lowe also shared his sadness on Twitter:

Along with WNBM remembering Prince, New York's fellow adult R&B station WBLS commemorated the star by playing an interview with him that it had previously conducted. Operations manager Skip Dillard tells Billboard, "We're wall-to-wall with his music and plenty of highlight moments from one of the greatest musical careers in modern history."

Of Prince's uncommon mass appeal, Dillard says, "There are only a handful of artists who pulled off what Prince did. He was R&B, pop and a little rock and folk in the mix. His sound was often beyond description, yet he was always not far from home base with his fans.

"His style, energy, sex appeal, musicianship and mastery of multiple instruments led to performances that were a step above almost all others."


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