New format at hit at HITZ
A full year after major changes were made - including the addition of groundbreaking programmes, new personnel, and a renewed focus - the management of Hitz 92 FM is confident that the station is moving in the right direction.
General Manager for Radio Services at the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, Dr Dennis Howard, is confident things are on the right trajectory "based on the anecdotal evidence."
Howard explained that the fundamental change in January 2017 was that "we switched to sports and reggae, but it also included dancehall." The dancehall component was dropped shortly after.
Said Howard: "My strategy overall for the five radio brands (within the RJRGLEANER Group) was differentiation. Every radio station must be catering to a specific audience. I know that there will be some amount of cross-threading, but people must know what they are going to the station for. So, Hitz is now sports and reggae and not sports, reggae, and dancehall."
The reggae offerings aside, lovers of rocksteady can also tune in to Hitz 92 FM because according to Howard, "it sort of comes under the reggae umbrella."
Kiki's 'Reggae Beat'
To shore up its already established reggae programming, well-known media personality Kerry 'Kiki' Thoms has been added to the Hitz roster. Her show 'Reggae Beat' is aired Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Thoms said that she only started two weeks ago so it is too early to gauge feedback, however, she is upbeat about the programme, which, among other things, offers information on reggae from a global perspective.
"Although we have just started, people have been calling to ask about it," she said. Thoms described 'Reggae Beat' as an " exposÈ on everything reggae." "We talk about the artistes and their nominations (for awards), we talk about new albums and new releases, and we also provide information on persons who are considered icons of reggae music. In essence, everything to do with reggae," she emphasised. Thoms said that it was important to have programmes dedicated to reggae, a genre created by Jamaicans but which she noted was being taken over by other countries. "We're doing our part to ensure that we preserve that part of our culture," she said.Thoms is also the host of 'Hitz Reggae Express', which is aired between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Apart from playing hits from yesteryear, the programme also has a half-hour feature on reggae artistes each week. Thoms said that her goal is to use the platform she has to encourage and inspire persons regardless of their particular circumstance, and so she encourages persons to tune in.
Coming soon: Rototom Sunsplash
In the meantime, Howard revealed that this summer, Hitz will bring a major global reggae festival into the homes of its listeners - the seven-day Rototom Sunsplash in Spain which runs from from August 16-22. Howard said that Hitz will be carrying excerpts from the concert itself as well as links to the university and the radio station that are connected to the festival.
The Hitz roster and lineup are quite formidable. It includes veterans Owen Brown, Garfield Hamilton, Dalton Leith, Troy McLean, Rodrick Howell, Jenny Jenny, Scott Wilson, Earl Bailey, and Oral Tracey on 'Sports Explosion', which is aired weekdays 9 a.m. to 11a.m., and the groundbreaking Girls Sports Club with its all-female cast of Trishana McGowan and Karen Madden, which is aired weekdays from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.
"The aim is to make Hitz 92 an international source for reggae music and for Jamaican sport," Howard said. He believes he has the talent and the programmes to achieve this.