iHeartMedia Honolulu Launches New Station Dedicated to Asian-Pop Music

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BTS performs onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas. 

The newly created PoP! 99.1 has BTS, BLACKPINK, Arashi, Jackson Wang, Niki and more on the playlist.

Hawaii is embracing a new kind of PoP!

iHeartMedia Honolulu has launched PoP! 99.1, a new station focused on Asian-pop music, or "A-pop" as it's being called. The English-language channel will have only one commercial break per hour and will feature artists from around the region with K-pop as a core part of programming.   

Korean-pop groups BTS, BLACKPINK, EXO, TWICEMonsta X and Tomorrow X Together are all on the playlist, as well as Japanese boy band Arashi, Filipino singer-songwriter Iñigo Pascual, Indonesian singer Niki (88rising's first female signee) and Chinese singer-rapper Jackson Wang, iHeartMedia says.   

"K-pop will definitely be prominent on the station as its undoubtedly the hottest quadrant in Asian pop right now," says Jamie Hyatt, senior vp programming for iHeartMedia Honolulu and program director for PoP! 99.1. "We wanted to leave ourselves open to playing all the hits of Asia though thus the designation A-pop over K-pop."

According to Hyatt, the move towards having an English-based radio station playing Asian-pop music is new for Hawaii's capital even if Korean and Japanese artists have had dedicated channels there before. "There have been K-pop and J-pop stations here in Honolulu years ago, but this is the first in Hawaii to have an English presentation and the first to play all kinds of Asian pop," he says. "K-pop is more popular than ever and we're starting to see more of a demand for global hits that you don’t hear on your traditional pop CHR [contemporary hit radio] stations."

Historically, Asian-pop has found little traction in the U.S. in dedicated, traditional radio outlets. SiriusXM has its ATN-Asian Radio (which focuses on South Asian news, music and sports) as well as the Korea Today channel (which includes some K-pop in its music and news format). Dash Radio also has Identity Asia Radio, co-created by Hot 100 chart-toppers Far East Movement's Transparent Feed company, which features pop music from all over the continent. 

Those who have found crossover success -- namely BTS -- seem to stop short when it comes to mainstream radio play. To date, the Korean-pop group has only hit as high as No. 22 on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart. Even PSY's "Gangnam Style" only reached No. 10 on the chart, despite weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100 during its breakout in 2012. And when Monsta X pivoted to English for their slinky single "Who Do U Love?" featuring French Montana, the track tapped out at No. 26 earlier this year.

Futher information about PoP!, including its on-air lineup, will be released at a later date. 


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