An Open Letter To The Local Radio Station

Dear radio station that plays today’s hits and yesterday’s favorites:

Congratulations on over thirty years of service to our local community. You have truly become the community’s radio station. I’m a new listener after a long time away. I now am able to listen to you during my workday; a change in personnel has now allowed us to listen to the radio during work hours. And I have no complaints about the music; with branding that allows you to play songs over the course of the last 30-40 years, you certainly don’t have a shortage of material from which to pick—so long as it stays in the pop range. You even have a classic lunch hour that plays songs from even further back; generally the 60s and 70s. Unlike a lot of stations, I can honestly say that I don’t hear a song repeated during the work day.

However, I do have a bone to pick with you. Sometimes, you will play a song that has a rap verse in it. I can think of four of them off the top of my head: Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth’s “See You Again,” Justin Timberlake & Jay-Z’s “Suit & Tie,” Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart,” and TLC’s “Waterfalls.” I have no problem with any of the songs themselves; however I do have a problem with how you play them. What you do, as you well know, is take the rap out of the song, so that there is no trace of it anywhere to be found. Now in the case of Timberlake and Jay-Z I can sort of understand because of some of the words in the lyrics. (Even so, I’m sure you can find a version that cleans up the objectionable parts and still play it). But the other three, after looking over the lyrics, I can’t find any trace of bad language in the rap parts. First, here’s Wiz Khalifa’s two verses from “See You Again”:

Damn who knew all the planes we flew
Good things we’ve been through
That I’ll be standing right here
Talking to you about another path I
Know we loved to hit the road and laugh
But something told me that it wouldn’t last
Had to switch up look at things different see the bigger picture
Those were the days hard work forever pays now I see you in a better place

How could we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?
Everything I went through you were standing there by my side
And now you gonna be with me for the last ride

First you both go out your way
And the vibe is feeling strong and what’s
Small turn to a friendship, a friendship
Turn into a bond and that bond will never
Be broken and the love will never get lost
And when brotherhood come first then the line
Will never be crossed established it on our own
When that line had to be drawn and that line is what
We reach so remember me when I’m gone

How could we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?
Everything I went through you were standing there by my side
And now you gonna be with me for the last ride

© Universal Music Publishing Group
For non-commercial use only.

Then Q-Tip’s bars from “Groove Is In The Heart”:

Someone’s in this torso (yeah)
Hot! Gotta deal you wanna know (wanna know)
Dee-Liteful truly Dee-Liteful (liteful)
Makin’ it doin’ it ‘specially at show (show)
Feeling kinda high like a Hendrix haze (haze)
Music makes motion moves like a maze (maze)
All inside of me (side)
Heart especially (yeah)
Help of the rhythm where I wanna be (c’mon)
Flowin’ glowin’ with electric eyes (ha)
You dip to the dive baby you’ll realize (yeah)
Baby you’ll see the funky side of me
Baby you’ll see that rhythm is the key (hmm!)
Get get ready with it (with it)
Can’t can’t quit it (quit it)
Stomp on the street when I hear a funk beat (beat)
Playing Pied Piper
Follow what’s true
Baby just sing about the groove (sing it)

Songwriters: Herbie Hancock, Dmitry Brill, Kier Kirby, Kamaal Fareed, Towa Tei

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

For non-commercial use only.

And finally, Left Eye’s Waterfalls verses:

I seen rainbow yesterday
But too many storms have come and gone
Leavin’ a trace of not on God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray
I pray all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days
And like his promise is true
Only my faith can undo
The many chances I blew
To bring my life to anew
Clear blue and unconditional skies
Have dried the tears from my eyes
No more lonely cries
My only bleedin’ hope
Is for the folk who can’t cope
Wit such an endurin’ pain
That it keeps ’em in the pourin’ rain
Who’s to blame
For tootin’ caine in your own vein
What a shame
You shoot and aim for someone else’s brain
You claim the insane
And name this day in time
For fallin prey to crime
I say the system got you victim to your own mind
Dreams are hopeless aspirations
In hopes of comin’ true
Believe in yourself
The rest is up to me and you

Songwriters: J. KLEMMER


For non-commercial use only.

Okay, I’ll give you Left Eye—she was never one of my favorite rappers anyway—but what would be the harm of including those verses in those songs? There certainly isn’t anything objectionable about the lyrics, so it obviously is about rap period. It doesn’t “fit the format”. I get it, but if you’re going to bastardize the songs so that they don’t even sound like the original creation, what’s the point of playing it on the station? The Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth track is nothing but Puth singing the chorus and the bridge and music. That’s pretty much useless to listen to.

At any rate, I doubt that you’ll change; you have no real incentive to do so. Perhaps there is a focus group or some kind of research telling you to take any and all rap out of songs that might otherwise fit your playlist. I’ll just say that some of the pop that you are playing is certainly based on hip-hop rhythms and beats, if not lyrically being spoken like rap songs. Though I’m sure there are some songs that are pushing closer to the line, as long as it isn’t outright rap I’m sure it will be fine. And I can’t even say it has anything to do with race—after all, many African-American singers are played on the station, so that can’t be it. It’s just the rap.

I would ask that you reconsider your stance and at the very least, play the raps in those songs, and if you want to play songs that have objectionable words in the rap lyrics, find versions that clean the dirty parts up. R&B and Hip-Hop stations have been doing this for years; I’m sure you can too.

A workday listener, T. Wayne

17 Replies to “An Open Letter To The Local Radio Station”

  1. My local station does this, too. I waited for the good part of Hollaback Girl the other day and they never played it! I wonder who makes the edits, the radio station or the record company? Because I know some of the more Indie stations will play the extended cuts a pop station won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot that one…the local station plays that song too and cuts that part as well. That’s a good questions as to who is at fault, or rather who makes the edits (lol). But I know on “hip-hop and R&B” stations, they clean up the parts that are objectionable but don’t pull the whole rap out completely. To me it makes no sense, but then again, they want to play the songs that fit the format without the parts that don’t. Just another reason why outside of the office, I listen to almost no commercial radio.


      1. Right. We have other options now. And I apologize, I mixed up my songs. It’s actually Underneath It All that has a rap bit in the middle that I like. Hollaback Girl just has that “bananas” part and they never bother to cut that 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      1. The station I’m referring to is more pop-oriented. We have stations like the one you describe that come in from other places, but they won’t tune in on the radio in the office.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Our station, if it’s anything close to current, will wear it out. Though like I said in the post, I never hear the same song twice during the workday. They might play it again after I’m off work, but I’m not listening to the station then.

        Liked by 1 person

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