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Thursday, March 11, 2010 02:55 am

Urban music radio comes to Springfield online

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Local singers Jeanette Bekose, LaTrice Chantel and Ashley Pearson.

It began with a childhood dream of becoming a radio personality. But when Angel Macon sent demos to countless area radio stations, none responded. Instead of idly waiting for that big break, Macon took matters into her own hands by creating an opportunity for herself and others attempting to enter the radio industry.

At a Feb. 26 party, Macon officially launched power217radio.com — possibly Springfield’s first online urban radio station. More than 100 people gathered at Springfield’s Hilton Garden Inn for the event, and partied to original tunes of more than a dozen unsigned artists trying to make it in the music industry.

One by one, artists from as far away as Pennsylvania belted out tunes that often rivaled well-known artists heard daily on radio stations across the country. Hip hop artists, such as Springfield’s Chad and St. Louis group Dem Couzins rocked the crowd with their funky, infectious vibes. R & B artists, including Springfield’s Gumbo Child and Champaign’s TL, as well as the groups TCG and Latrice Chantel, whose members are natives of Springfield and Champaign, were also crowd pleasers.

Springfield’s Q Bronson and ZR, as well as Decatur’s Scooby the Lyericis, and Pennsylvania’s Nük brought the crowd to its feet as they spit out raps that had the room bumping. Bronson was met with wild cheers as he wowed the crowd with “Sex Machine,” “Replacement,” and “Where Did She Go,” in which he melodically switched back and forth from rap to R & B.

Many musicians came to Springfield for the 217 Power Radio Launch Party including Pennsylvania independent rap artist Young Nuk.
Though not scheduled to perform, St. Louis’ Shut Em Down was one of the crowd’s favorites. Living up to his name, the rap artist performed two hits: “Break Bread” — about networking and meeting different people — and “Baw Chicka Baw-Baw” — a phrase signifying a person who sees someone who “catches” his or her eye. The rhythmic flow of Chicago rapper DeKapa, featuring Calhoun singing “I Got Plenty” and “What Up,” resulted in an encore performance.

Musical artists were not the only pleasures of the evening. St. Louis comedian Eric Rivers warmed the audience with sidesplitting jokes, and kept them coming in between performers, while DJ 76 Kid dropped tunes that kept the audience begging for more.

If reaction to the launch party is an indicator of the station’s future, then power217radio.com will be a success. Springfield has long been devoid of a radio station dedicated to urban music. Aside from some popular hip hop, rap and R & B songs occasionally played by local pop or contemporary radio stations, the urban music scene is virtually absent from the local airwaves. Given this, fans of R & B and hip hop believe that an urban radio station in Springfield is long overdue.

“Finally,” says Kianna Thompson, who moved to Springfield from Atlanta, Ga., two years ago. “When I first got here, I could not believe that there was not a black radio station,” added Thompson, who attended the launch party. “That was hard getting used to.”

Power 217 Radio founder Angel Macon.
“It is really important that us independent artists have opportunities on stations like Power 217,” says performer Bronson. “It’s really hard to break into the industry when you don’t have a major record company backing you. A lot of times, mainstream radio stations are very political. So, we really depend on other media outlets like this to get our names out there,” he added.

Power 217 is up and running. Listeners can log on to the Web site 24/7 and hear hip hop, rap, R & B and old school throughout the week, and inspirational music on Sundays. Macon estimates that it will cost at least $50,000 a year to keep the station going, including purchasing equipment to enhance the site. She is depending on funds from advertisers and special events to pay the expenses.

Though Macon and local urban music lovers are excited about the local online radio station, Macon says that she is hoping to raise enough money — $100,000 minimum — to launch a dial-up urban station in Springfield in three to five years.

Contact Jolonda Young at ladyj2066@aol.com.

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