How The Largest Radio Company In The U.S. Turned Iggy Azalea Into A History-Making Star

Life Writer
07.16.14 84 Comments

Getty Image

Up until this week, Iggy Azalea was sitting atop the charts for 287355 weeks with her “Fancy” record, and a good chunk of that is thanks to Clear Channel’s “On The Verge” program. The initiative was created by the media giant last year to introduce “new artists” to its 245 million listeners.

Here’s how it works, per Washington Post.

It all starts with the brand managers at the top of the Clear Channel chain, who listen to hundreds of songs and filter them down to about five or six favorites from various formats (top 40, urban, country, adult contemporary, etc.) and send those selections to program directors across the country.

From there, the program directors vote on which ones they think their listeners will like the most. “It’s purely a gut feeling what they think our listeners will react to,” Tom Poleman, Clear Channel Radio’s president for national programming platforms explained. That’s another thing that sets “On the Verge” apart, he added: “It’s really driven from our programmers and what they’re passionate about.”


So when a lucky newbie’s single is chosen by program directors to be an “On The Verge” song, all 840 Clear Channel radio stations are committed to play the song a minimum of 150 times, the average number of times it takes before listeners usually form an opinion about a record, according to Poleman. Generally, this goes on for six weeks before another song is chosen. As Washington Post points out, the station can play the song more than the committed 150 times, which is often the case when a song becomes popular or…when checks get cut, allegedly.

Okay, so are Clear Channel staffers inundated with label executives and publicists clamoring for their artists to win the spot? Maybe, but that ultimately doesn’t matter. “Everyone wants to lobby for it, but it’s purely [decided by] programmers,” Poleman said. There’s no strategic formula for choosing the artist — there doesn’t have to be a specific number of men and women or a balanced amount between any particular label. It’s all about the quality of the music, he said.


So how did “On The Verge” save Iggy’s career and turn her into a star?

After her first three official singles flopped, the Australian rapper released her fourth single “Fancy” on February 17th, with the record debuting at number 88 on Billboard’s Hot 100 March 22nd.

On April 3rd, it was named an “On The Verge” song for six weeks, ending May 15th.

On May 28th, “Fancy” reached the top of the Billboard hot 100 chart where it stayed at number one for seven weeks, before being dethroned by Canadian pop/reggae group MAGIC!’s “Rude.”

And there you have it. That’s how Iggy Azalea went from a flop to — according to Forbes magazine — running Hip-Hop.

Around The Web