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BEST RADIO PERSONALITY

Alex Santamaria

As any large, multigenerational black family can attest, no generation gap cuts deeper than the one between fans of old-school R&B and their hip-hop-loving kids. Folks who once felt confident enough to bust a move on the Soul Train dance line can be made to feel about as limber as Christopher Reeve once their teens start showing off the new club moves.

Alex Santamaria, program director and drive-time jock on KAJM, "Arizona's jammin' R&B," effectively bridges that gap by shrewdly peppering the station's boomer-skewed playlist of classic Motown and cruisin' slow jams with songs that reveal the source of current hip-hop's most sampled beats. The kids in the back seat won't hear the Beyoncé/Jay-Z hit "Crazy in Love" on KAJM, but they might hear the 1970 Chi-Lites platter "Are You My Woman," from which Beyoncé's hit lifts its propulsive horn riff. Santamaria, a longtime player in the Valley R&B scene (he helped program AM powerhouse KQ in the '80s), also allows himself to share in the uncoolness foisted on his listeners by humorously mishandling current slang and copping to his own dance-floor ineptness -- even while coolly cueing up that old Gap Band jam that Ashanti lifted for her latest CD.

Readers' Choice: Dave Pratt

 
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