Stingray brings Flow 93.5 back to Toronto

With hip-hop on the rise, the station has undergone a rebrand.
Drake

Monday morning Torontonians woke to find Flow 93.5 back on the FM dial. Flow, the city’s first dedicated hip-hop station, was originally launched in February 2001.

In 2016, Stingray changed its format from hip-hop to a more pop-leaning lineup and renamed the station to 93.5 The Move. While it re-introduced hip-hop to the lineup in 2017, it did not go back to its former name.

So why the rebrand now? Josie Fenech, program director at Flow 93.5, tells MiC, “Since then we’ve realized through extensive research, including speaking to listeners and artists, that Flow and hip-hop are synonymous. Reverting back to Flow is the best way to get rid of any confusion about what we’re doing as a radio station.”

According to the most recent Numeris PPM report, The Move boasted a 1.1 audience share in Toronto for listeners 12+, up from its 1.0 share the previous quarter. Its overall share is the second-lowest of all Toronto’s monitored stations (lowest being TSN10502), but it does have a slightly better track record with women 25 to 54, with whom it holds a 1.7 share (putting it ahead of nine other stations, including CBC Radio Two, Sportsnet 590 and Jazz FM 91).

Fenech says Flow has a lot of heritage in the Toronto market, something that advertisers should find appealing. Its audience is adults aged 18 to 44 who love hip-hop, which she says represents an increasingly diverse group of people. “Looking at the Grammys and how hip-hop artists dominated the Grammys, this is the time for the genre. It’s certainly at its peak. Hip-hop just took over from rock and roll as the most dominant music genre and last year eight out 10 top selling albums in North America were of the hip-hop and R&B genre. It’s not just a niche audience. It’s very broad.”

(Those rankings are according to the Nielsen SoundScan data; the top-selling album of 2018 according to that list was Canada’s own Drake, with the album Scorpion).

Flow has had a long history of airing both big established stars – such as Drake and The Weeknd – as well as local talent. The station will resume its tradition of dedicating an hour of programming five nights a week to artists from Toronto.

Fenech says, “A lot of the music we play is exclusive to us. I think there’s a lot of untapped potential in the audience that new advertisers can reach by advertising on our radio station.”