BET's '106 And Park' Won't Ever Grow Old : The Record The hip-hop-oriented video show makes eighth-graders feel like they're at a party just for them.
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BET's '106 And Park' Won't Ever Grow Old

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BET's '106 And Park' Won't Ever Grow Old

BET's '106 And Park' Won't Ever Grow Old

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Now, back to our exploration of the fractured media. The growth of options on TV and the Internet has changed the way we consume culture. Take music videos. MTV has pretty much ditched them, because videos are all over YouTube. But music videos are still the heart and soul of the TV show "106 & Park" on BET.

NPR's Zoe Chace reports that the show's focus is on a specific fragment of the broader audience - young fans of hip-hop.

ZOE CHACE: Thirteen-year-old Zakkiayah Radney-Turner just got home from school.

ZAKKIAYAH RADNEY: I get a lot of homework and stuff. So it's fun when I get to go home, get my food, lay back, turn on the TV, and it's sort of like I'm at a party.


BET: Welcome back to the show. You're watching BET's "106 & Park."

CHACE: Zakkiayah goes to North Star Academy in Newark, New Jersey. Her class of eighth graders is going to tell us why "106 & Park" is appointment watching.

First, Shaquan Nelson explains he likes the feeling of being in a crowd.

SHAQUAN NELSON: A dance, if you're doing it by yourself, it's just boring. Three people is boring. A hundred? It's kind of fun.


BLOCK: Now I feel like (unintelligible).

NELSON: You're seeing people out there dancing with you, and you know that somebody out there looks on that show just like you do and you're doing the same dance that they're doing.


Unidentified Woman: I'm loving it.

CHACE: Second, "106 & Park" is really just for young people.

As Imani Johnson gently points out, it's a safe place to escape from the cynicism of the over 21 set.

IMANI JOHNSON: Old and middle-aged, they always criticizing our music. Like, my mother, she always saying, I can't understand what you're all singing, and all those other stuff. So it's constant for us.

CHACE: But all this - the party, the escape from old people - doesn't account for "106 & Park" having its highest rated month ever in November. Possibly, the most important reason "106 & Park" is so popular is that it's on BET.

TERRENCE JENKINS: African-American culture and African-American trends...

CHACE: Mm-hmm.

JENKINS: ...and African-American lifestyle.

CHACE: Terrence Jenkins is the co-host.

JENKINS: You know, it is BET. It is Black Entertainment Television, and there's no other place on TV that caters to us, at the end of the day.

CHACE: Think about...

JAMAD THOMAS: If we go to MTV, VH-1 or you turn to like Channel E...

CHACE: Jamad Thomas is 13.

THOMAS: don't really see that many shows where you can see your own people - African-Americans - having fun and have a lot of positivity.

CHACE: Jamad feels like he has to go to BET if he wants to see black teenagers front and center on television.

Now, to be clear, it can get a little racy on "106." Songs like "Birthday Sex" regularly appear on the countdown.

But on freestyle Friday...


Unidentified Man: Guys, here are the rules. There are no cursing, no foul language, no sex or explicit lyrics.

CHACE: And you do see a diversity of faces and styles on the show, though not of ages. The oldest person is probably Eminem, who's 39.


BLIND FURY: (Singing) Hey, (unintelligible).

CHACE: Amateur rapper Blind Fury has dominated the last four weeks. This kid would stand out in most crowds - a blind white adroit rapper in a red Yankee cap from rural South Carolina.


FURY: (Rapping) Really want to talk how I kill them with the blind. Everybody what, see me kill him with the rhyme. I'mma come through and I'mma get them out of my mind. Everybody wants to see me when they see me on my grind. Yeah.

CHACE: The common denominator on "106 & Park" is hip-hop. If you don't like commercial hip-hop, you'd probably won't like this party. But if you do and you're in eighth grade, you might feel like this party is just for you.

Zoe Chace, NPR News.

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