Chris Brown’s Radio Spin: Some Stations May Be Dropping Him Without Dropping A Press Release

Feb 12th, 2009 // 13 Comments

As the Chris Brown-Rihanna saga drags on and the legal investigation moves forward, more radio stations are taking a stand by announcing that they won’t play Brown’s music until a clear picture of what happened after Clive Davis’ party on Sunday night emerges. Brown’s spins slightly declined in the immediate aftermath of his arrest on making criminal threats against a woman, but more and more stations are coming out of the woodwork to claim that Brown’s music—including the airy gum jingle “Forever” and the ballad “With You”—is off their playlists, while others are waiting and seeing: “I think that taking music off the air is cheap publicity,” Todd Cavanah, program director of Chicago Top 40 station B96, told the Chicago Tribune. “We haven’t heard the whole story. For us to make a judgment and pull his songs would be premature.” A radio station trying to drum up publicity by hitching itself to an icky news story? Perish the thought! Anyway, a list of what some radio stations around the country are doing after the jump.

• New York: Brown’s name doesn’t pop up on pop station Z100′s playlist (which does include “Stan” by Eminem), nor is it on the recently-played list of sister station Power 105. Hmm.
• Chicago: Still in rotation on top 40 stations B96 and KISS-FM, as well as hip-hop/R&B hit-player WGCI.
• Cleveland: WAKS is still getting press for being the first station to announce its ban.
• Indianapolis: CHR station WNOU pulled Brown from its playlist, but a listener poll at hip-hop station WHHH resulted in Brown’s music getting the A-OK.
• Fargo, N.D.: Off top 40 station Y94.
• Long Island, N.Y.: Off top 40 station WBLI—but not until tomorrow. The station is also holding a very tacky event for people who were “unlucky in love.” Yeah. “Unlucky.” Keep it classy, Long Island.
• Fort Myers, Fla.: Top 40 station B103.9 has kicked Brown off its playlist until his legal issues are resolved. In a super-classy move, video of a news report on the ban is currently the lead item on the station’s Web site.

We’ll run more Mediabase numbers tomorrow to see just how these “bans” are panning out.

Chris Brown: To play or not to play [Pop Machine]
WBLI To Stop Playing Chris Brown [Backstage Pass]
Fargo radio station Y94 bans music by Chris Brown [InFORUM]

  1. Invisible Circus

    Stupid move. It’s free publicity.

  2. Al Shipley

    My local station in Baltimore is having people call in and vote for whether to keep playing CB’s songs, but I don’t think they’ve come to a decision yet. In the meantime I’ve heard plenty of his stuff on there. Ultimately, though, the guy is between album cycles, so it’s not like the effect on his singles is going to be really immediate. But I really have no idea how CB or his label expect to launch a new album in the next year or so, if they even try.

    This is all pretty interesting because for all the pop music scandals we’ve had in recent years, this is one of the first where an airplay ban or boycott has even been a question. Some bad boy rapper or rock star gets busted with drugs or guns and it just feeds into their image. Even when Lil Wayne got busted and he lost some sponsorships, radio didn’t budge from playing him constantly. R. Kelly’s stock dipped for a few months after his scandal broke, then he was more popular than ever. But this is like the perfect storm of illusion-shattering pop idol dismantling: a teen dream assaults an equally popular female star? Christ.

    Did any stations stop playing Jacko in the immediate aftermath of the initial child molestation scandal in ’93? Wikipedia says Dangerous actually rose up the charts after that happened!

  3. Lucas Jensen

    @Al Shipley: Or what of Tupac, James Brown, 50 Cent, etc.? I don’t feel bad for Chris Brown, but if they are gonna start holding pop stars up to some higher moral standard…well, let’s say the playlists will empty out a bit.

  4. bcapirigi

    The playlist for 92-PRO FM in Providence doesn’t mention forever (although it mentions about ten less songs than it did a couple of months ago.) Neither does HOT 106. Although I’m not sure if Forever was still on either one, anyway.

  5. Michaelangelo Matos

    @Lucas Jensen: Except none of them beat up a woman whose music is not just popular, but probably far more popular than their own.

  6. Halfwit

    @Michaelangelo Matos: This. Rihanna is much more popular than Chris Brown. More importantly, she’s more beloved. Whether or not he’s convicted (or even indicted), I would imagine that he’s toast on the radio.

  7. Al Shipley

    @Halfwit: I think we’re getting a little carried away with “much more popular” here. They’re both multi-platinum, they both have #1 hits out the wazoo, and if you’ll recall Chris Brown was Billboard’s chart artist of the year for ’08. You guys make it sound like he’s Trey Songz and she’s Beyonce.

  8. Chris Molanphy

    The modern standard-setter for airplay decimation was the Dixie Chicks’ instant disappearance from country playlists in 2003, in the runup to the Iraq war after Natalie Maines’s comments. Their cover of Bruce Robison’s “Traveling Soldier,” a former Country No. 1, was at No. 3 when the story broke, and the following week the song was off the chart.

    (To be fair, Billboard‘s Country chart has a weird recurrent rule where songs that fall below the Top 10 and are more than a couple months old are instantly removed from the chart, lest the slow-ass Country chart get clogged with old records. So the Chicks’ song didn’t actually fall 72 spots in a week — it fell at least eight spots, and then Billboard automatically removed it. Still, the song was near its peak of airplay, and it’s mind-blowing that airplay for a former No. 1 would drop off so rapidly, especially at a slow-moving format like country.)

    I bring up the Chicks counterexample for a couple of reasons:

    1. Al’s right that it’s going to be hard to judge the damage to Brown because he’s between promotional cycles. I’m not sure the conditions would ever exist again for something like what happened to the Chicks to recur — an act at its absolute peak of popularity, and very reliant on a single radio format, and mid-album-cycle, instantly shunned.

    2. Laughable and shameful as this now seems, there was unusual agreement among country radio constituents (programmers and listeners) over the shun-worthiness of the Chicks. As horrible as the allegations against Brown are, pockets of sympathy — both from those who presume innocence and, yeah, from those (pigs) who don’t this feel horribleness rises above a lovers’ quarrel — likely mean the case against Brown won’t be so clear-cut. Which is unjust, if the allegations turn out to be 100% true, but there you go.

  9. Michaelangelo Matos

    @Al Shipley: It doesn’t matter how evenly matched their popularity is: she isn’t a faceless entity to his star. She’s his equal, in the public mind, and therefore it isn’t just some item to be ignored or overlooked.

  10. Anonymous

    Rihanna should have stabbed him with her umbrella.

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  12. jasmine

    rihanna is love by who? She’s propped by more…. ultimately. My vote is for Breezy regardless.

  13. jasmine

    Who’s to say she didn’t stab him with something? Umbrella, high heel, fingernails, goat horns….go figure.

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