The commercial-radio pie has been neatly sliced. Each format has a station, each corporate owner is rolling in the dough from this lack of competition. One station for each taste. The result: airwave drivel. No competition means no need for adventure. Boredom. The one shining exception: the hip-hop-radio war between 100.3 FM (The Beat) and 95.5 FM (Q95). Running neck-and-neck in the ratings, the two stations race for the same eardrums, and the resulting airwave battle has provided some of the most inspired and joyous radio this city has heard in years. Where other stations produce bland, cookie-cutter programming with DJs so stereotypical that they're interchangeable, hip-hop radio is a hoot as the stations do it live without a net, 24 hours a day. Check Charlie Chan, Mic Fox and Craig Blac, shooting the shit during drivetime on the Q. They're having a blast, banging the hip-hop and bouncing Bonnevilles all over the city. Check Needles' glorious, inspired Phat Laces
, Sunday nights on the Beat, a stripped-down mix show devoted to classic hip-hop that hits Heavy D and Chuck D, Digital Underground and A Tribe Called Quest. Check DJ Kaos' crazy evening mix show on The Beat, an unpredictable array of both national and local cuts provided with an energy and enthusiasm that's been drained from everywhere else on the dial. The two stations fill each moment with thrills, each trying to top the other. Want to have fun listening to music? St. Louis hip-hop is where it's at, and you can hear it all, believe it or not, on the radio.