A Bay Area Latin radio station has been playing Nelly’s 2002 jam “Hot in Herre” for at least 18 straight hours. Latino Mix 105.7 converted to its all-Nelly-all-the-time format sometime yesterday afternoon; soon, the formatting switch had inspired a #Nelly1057 hashtag dedicated to tracking the broadcasting mystery. To what do we owe this pleasure?
There’s a long tradition of radio stations engaging in a practice called “stunting” to prank audiences, drum up publicity, or signal the station’s impending doom. The stunt is usually to denote a format change: In 2010, a Milwaukee radio station played a whole day of “songs about cheating inspired by Tiger Woods,” temporarily rebranding itself as Tiger 106.9, in advance of a shift from smooth jazz to contemporary country. As Tom Taylor of music radio trade publication RadioInfo put it at the time: “Parading an elephant down the street alerts people that the [old] format is gone.” It’s like “when the circus comes to town." But some stations have engaged in stunts for more artistic or political purposes: In 1994, a sports talk radio station in Akron, Ohio played “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” 57,161 consecutive times (and made it into the Guinness Book of Sports Records) in order to protest that year's Major League Baseball strike.
Rumors that Latino 105.7 would be changing to an English language pop station have been swirling for at least two years. RadioInsight reports that the station will soon be reborn as Hot 105.7. So far, Latino 105.7 has only publicly nodded to the stunt by sharing a news story about it on its official Facebook page. I’ve left calls with the station and will update when they give us some answers. In the meantime, you can listen to Nelly all the time at the station’s website.