Black Talk Radio and Media


Black Talk Radio and Media

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Article on Black Radio News from THE BLACK AGENDA Report Editor, Glenn Ford

The absence of news on commercial Black radio has stunted our dreams and warped our politics for a generation, leaving Black America with no means to talk to itself in its own voices. Sparking a movement in our communities to demand the return of news to the Black commercial airwaves, argues Glen Ford , must be at the center of any meaningful black push for media reform.

Bring Back Black Radio News: The People’s Network

by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford

“The people listen to commercial Black radio, and the struggle must be taken to the proprietors’ doorsteps.”

No News – No Progress

If Dr. Martin Luther King had been allowed to live, he would have long ago mobilized to save local Black radio news from the dustbin into which it has been caste by white and Black corporate owners. In the days leading up to the Memphis Media Reform conference, Hip Hop broadcaster, journalist and historian Davey D has been circulating King’s 1967 speech to the National Association of Radio Announcers (the Black disc jockey’s organization of that era) in Atlanta:

“I value the special opportunity to address you this evening, for in my years of struggles both North and South, I have come to appreciate the role which the radio announcer plays in the life of our people. For better or worse, you are opinion makers in the community, and it is important that you remain aware of the power which is potential in your vocation.

“The masses are almost totally dependent on radio as their means of relating to the society at large. They do not read newspapers; television speaks not to their needs, but to upper middle class America.

“One need only recall the Watts tragedy and the quick adoption of the ‘Burn, Baby, Burn’ slogan to [understand] the influence of the radio announcer in the community. But, while the establishment was quick to blame the tragedy of Watts, most unjustly, on the slogan of Magnificent Montague, it has not been ready to acknowledge all of the positive features that grow out of your contribution to the community. "

. . . and he goes on to say

To be sure, activists and scholars will note the vast damage done to diversity in media programming and ownership by rampaging corporate consolidation. Yet few will call attention to the fact that Black corporate consolidators are as busily at work as their white counterparts, smothering the last vestiges of local Black radio news coverage. We can safely – and sadly – predict that there will be little discussion in Memphis of the specific path that consolidation has taken in African American radio markets, nor of the fracturing of previously progressive Black political institutions that has resulted from the near-extinction of local Black radio news.
izing. But we will all reap the harvest.

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