A group of watchdogs, stakeholders and interest groups says the recent LMA that turned New York’s KISS FM into a sports station calls for an investigation into the state of African-American radio in general.
Free Press was one of the lead organizations. It pointed out that the loss of WRKS-FM, which Emmis Communications has rented to Walt Disney Company as an ESPN outlet, leaves America’s #1 market with just one major African-American station, Urban AC WBLS-FM.
Free Press said, “Prompted by this sudden loss of a bastion of black radio, yesterday a coalition of African American, media justice and public interest groups as well as black media professionals and scholars called on the Federal Communication Commission to study the state of black radio. Free Press was one of the signers.”
The coalition says that this incident “speaks to a much larger crisis plaguing black radio and the radio industry.” And they believe the root of the problem is obvious: excessive media ownership consolidation and a mere 3% share of radio licenses in the hands of African-Americans.
“Many black radio stations have historically provided the community with a voice in the fight for greater equality,” the coalition wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that also went to the other commissioners.” African American DJs not only provided the community with the latest news and information, but they played records by local black artists that served as the soundtrack for African American empowerment.”
“But today, with few exceptions, local radio has abandoned serving the needs of those communities – and at a time when many of them face enormous suffering.”
They want the FCC to “…adopt rules ensuring that local broadcasters are held accountable to the communities they are licensed to serve.” Further, they want “…a thorough study of the state of black radio that examines who owns urban-formatted radio stations.” It wants trustworthy ownership data and an investigation into the continued role of payola in influencing airplay.
Members of the following organizations signed the letter:
* Paul Porter, Industry Ears
* Joseph Torres, Free Press
* Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org
* Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
* Brandy Doyle, Prometheus Radio Project
* Maxie C. Johnson, National Federation of Community Broadcasters
* Casey Rae, Future of Music Coalition
* Paul Billings, WUVS Muskegon LPFM
* Dr. Jared Ball, Morgan State University
* Dave “Davey D” Cook, San Francisco State and Pacific Radio
* Todd Steven Burroughs, Morgan State University
RBR-TVBR observation: Some would argue that all radio stations regardless of ethnic orientation should be paying a lot more attention to their local communities. In fact, we are some of the ubiquitous “some” that are saying that.
Digital content is making inroads on radio’s critical turf – the vehicle dashboard. Digital will have many qualities that broadcast radio will not be able to touch.
Broadcast can have one quality that digital cannot touch – a strong local presence. There really isn’t a whole lot more that separates broadcast radio from internet radio that works in broadcast’s favor.
We really believe that if you let your local advantage wither and die, you will have very little if anything left with which to compete. Just sayin’…