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HURN Reinvents Itself To Remain Relevant

By Tiffany Hoyd, Howard University News Service
On December 13, 2017

Howard University Radio Network (HURN), which consists of: WHUR, WHBC, and Sirius XM stations HURVoices, and HBCU, continues to stand out in the DC area, and in the world of urban radio.

WHUR, is the number 1 urban radio station in DC. Photo by Wikicommons

WHUR, according to Ratings Online, is the number 1 urban radio station in DC.

According to Stean Plater the deputy general manager for WHUR, the station has consistently done well, however due to heavy competition, it hasn’t been as easy as in the past.

“We were doing very well until about two years ago when our competition finally woke up. For years - like 6-7 years - we destroyed them every week...We still beat them, but it’s not as easy as it was at one point,” he said.

Plater said market research has helped them to stay relevant.

“We do a lot of research. We do research at least every other year, if not every year. The research is done on the music that we play, and on the talent that we air.”

The Howard University Radio Network is constantly looking to grow and appeal to the age ranges it caters to.  According to Plater this is 18-54.

“We always ask the question around here - why? Like why would I want to listen to this? If I’ve got Pandora, if I’ve got apple music...What is it about what we’re doing that makes me want to come to WHUR, that makes me want to listen to WHUR,” he said.

Plater believes that the success of the station is based on the combination of community involvement and understanding of the D.C. culture.

HURN, especially WHUR are looking to grow their social media presence.

Robin Akinwale, the digital content coordinator said building social media capital is important.

“Since we’ve been here we’ve started to lay the foundation for the digital framework - so basically social media management, the creation of digital content on the website, videography,” she said.

“When artists come in and do in-studio interviews I’m there recording that. Trying to create pieces and sharable content, anything on the website, photography as well. Also coming up with digital strategies for basically terrestrial radio is a totally different industry from digital media - so trying to come up with concepts of how to take radio content and make it engaging digital content.”

Akinwale said that the station has a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but not Snapchat. “We don’t believe that we should be on every single social media network, but whatever is targeted for our demographic and we believe we should be consistent on those particular platforms,” she said.

WHUR’s Social Media posts reaches thousands of people.

Steve Robinson a producer for WHUR, and former radio personality and manager for WHBC, the student ran station at Howard, said the Sirius XM stations try to give the community good content.

“The goal for HURVoices is to give you the best that WHUR has to offer, and we have a show called the “Caribbean Experience,” and we wanted to give that experience on Satellite, so we took some of the music and host John Blake, to give us some insight on that.”

Robinson said that the variety of HURN’s network ensures that they have something for everyone.   

“We can reach a student population, we can reach a population that only likes talk, we can reach a population that is only interested in or is very interested in the HBCU experience so regardless of what you’re looking for Howard University Radio Network has something for you.”

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