Tuning In 

Get in touch with what your teens are listening to on the radio

“Teens today are making better choices musically,” says Billy Surf, program director and host of Surf’s Up in the Morning at Q94. “They are more informed than ever before. They have access to more information and they’re making better decisions.”

Like fashion, the music world is cyclical. Every few years it shifts genres. The recent focus: hip-hop and adult contemporary music. But that spotlight may be changing direction.

“Shows like ‘American Idol’ may help shift the focus more toward the center of pop music,” says Skip the Prize Guy at Q94. “‘American Idol’ has inspired today’s hit music. People are watching it and getting into it and identifying with it. It’s setting the tone for the new generation.”

Skip believes the show is a great way for record companies to bring new talent into the marketplace. “These people are already winners. People have watched them from beginning to end.”

At Q94, music doesn’t get played without going through a listening process. “Several people at the station listen to all the new songs,” Surf explains. “We are careful to play edits. We filter everything. We pick the cleanest hip-hop, rock, pop that is available. We hand select the right records. That doesn’t mean we don’t play songs with lyrics that are questionable.”

“The top 40 is the top 40 across the country,” adds Skip. “We try to select a play list for Richmond.”

For example, Eminem had a hit that talked about beating up a woman. “We never played it,” Surf says. “It was awful. It didn’t serve our audience. The song went up the charts and then died. It was something we shouldn’t have played all along.”

Surf and Skip, both parents, advise parents to listen to music with their teens, become involved. “Watch the music videos on television as well,” Surf suggests.

The two believe that parents are more in tune with what their teens want and need than parents of previous eras. “When 50 Cent came in to town, a lot of kids wanted to go and their parents went with them,” Skip says. “Instead of preventing their kids from going to the concert, they went with them to filter [the music].”

Teens today have access to anything they want; they can download music from the Internet. “There’s no taboo anymore,” Surf says. “That’s why parenting is more and more important every day. Look at what they are downloading and listen to it.”

Think back to your teen years, Surf suggests. “Listen and be involved and let your teens know you are part of every aspect of their


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