*Consistent R&B may be lost in the world of radio, but fear not. John Hairston is providing a gateway into the seemingly forgotten genre with 1067The Bridge.com, a new Internet radio station specializing in soul music and its many descendants.
“Looking at R&B music, there’s still a lot of activity going on in R&B music,” the former Washington, DC DJ explained to EUR’s Lee Bailey while highlighting the struggle many R&B singers face in capturing the public’s ear. “A lot of new artists and even some of the old artists have actually found some difficulty getting airplay on certain stations that focus more on the younger crowd. Some of the hip-hop stations or some rap stations won’t play some of the older, well-known R&B artists. So to try and bridge that gap was kind of how The Bridge came about.”
In addition to R&B, 1067TheBridge integrates lite rock, gospel and jazz into its programming, along with news, segments dealing with medical and health issues and weekly sermons that air on Sundays. According to Hairston (pictured above), the diversity of his site’s playlist is what adds to The Bridge’s appeal in regards to unlikely genres on the same outlet.
“We’re what you might call a hybrid station,” he added. “We mix both new jazz songs. We play gospel. We play lite rock music such as Hall & Oates or Sting, Steely Dan. But of course our main anchor is R&B, both old school R&B as well as new R&B. And we try to, as we say, bridge musical gaps. We try to take music that has a similar sound but may not be as thought about together.
“A good example “¦ Sting from the group Sting and the Police used to be with Bob Marley’s band. A lot of Sting’s music would be compatible to reggae because they’ve got the same beat,” continued Hairston, who highlighted entertainers like Pink and TLC who have used the same producer on hit songs as well as shared the same musicians or writers.
Hairston’s desire to create 1067 The Bridges stems from his experience in radio over the years and a desire to “see this entity have some radio like quality about it.” The site’s 1067 (one-oh-six-seven) sprang from a conversation with a friend who mentioned how 106(point)7 was a frequency many black radio stations operated under on the FM dial.
“That was the original name we came up with. It was1067The Bridge.com,” Hairston admitted. “The concept behind The Bridge was to bridge the gap between different genres of music and also to bridge Black communities a bit more culturally like they once were.”
Recalling the ’70?s and ’60s, Hairston cites the strong connection radio had to the black community in keeping the community abreast of what was happening as well as entertained.
“But that kind of eroded over the years and a lot of things have been taken away, such as news,” the Cleveland, OH native noted, adding that “news has been more centralized.
“I had an employer once tell me, “˜If they want news they can go to CNN. And I thought “˜Well that’s true, but there might be something that’s missing there because there are some issues that sometimes come up that might be of concern in the black community that might not be considered as equally important in the mainstream community. One of the goals we have is to provide that additional voice to what we’re doing,” said Hairston. “¦ We do daily news and realize that there are a number news outlets. We’re not necessarily trying to go in to news, but I’m of the philosophy that we should always provide some kind of information along with our entertainment. And it’s free. They can go to any station on the Internet, but we want to provide some kind of cohesiveness.”
The Bridge’s content represents a source of pride for Hairston, who has no problem touting what his site will and won’t play
“We’re pretty straightforward. We play music. We play news and we try to keep it all-consuming,” he stated. “We don’t play music that exploits women. We don’t play music that’s laced with profanity and we don’t play music that glorifies the destruction of black people or our race. We try to uplift our people.”
“We’re truly an Internet station in the sense that there are only two people based here in San Antonio. One is in sales and then myself in programming,” the Hampton University graduate added about his small staff, which includes DJ’s in Chicago, San Diego and London as well as an IT guy in Houston.”
As he helms The Bridge, Hairston has become more aware of the power of the Internet as national and international listeners find time to take in what the site is offering.
“I think the wave of the future anyway is more toward the Internet because where else can you access it all over the world,” he said. “We have a lot of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq that regularly write in to us. And some of them say that they really enjoy our Sunday program because it brings them right to church, so to speak. And so we’re proud of that.”
With a little more than a year under its belt, Hairston is looking to continue 1067TheBridge online with more visitors tuning in. All the while staying true to what brought the site to the table. Nevertheless, without a big budget, staying on the Internet can be a challenge.
“We’re not as well known,” Hairston stated. “Honestly, we don’t have a large budget to spread the word like some traditional powerhouse station could to. We don’t have deep pockets. It’s two former radio jocks who are trying to bring some elements of old school radio back “¦We have limited resources. We can certainly use contributions and donations. That’s our goal, to really try and bring integrity and bring radio or Internet radio, if you will, to the forefront.
The station’s goal can be attributed to a telling statement Hairston heard years ago which is now motivation to continue working to establish his creation among a slew of online competitors.
“˜If you don’t own it, you can’t control it.’ Those words were so prophetic before iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) gobbled up ma and pop stations,” Hairston said as he recognized the influence of current media giants in the radio landscape. “The media will often will stand and shape your image. If blacks or African-American people don’t retain certain control over their image, then our image will be dictated to us by others. And often they get it wrong or exploit it beyond recognition at times”¦we certainly believe that we must always keep our own voice in this thing and that we also can shape our own destiny and our own culture and that no one will even bother to dictate our culture except us.”
To listen to 1067TheBridge, contribute or for more information, call (210) 440-3968, or visit www.1067TheBridge.com