Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Black Radio (and Media) is Dying

Contemporary Black radio
In this Random Nothingness podcast, I talk about how I recently had the opportunity to call into the Al Sharpton radio show (he wasn't there, it was his guest host Bob Slade), and the topic of the day was "Is Black radio needed?".  I had only found out about the show through a link that Dr. Boyce Watkins posted on his wall about his guest segment on the show.

In my comments, I mentioned that I didn't own a radio or television, and whenever I pay attention to either medium, it's via the Internet.  I also commented that there's a lack of Black female voices as the primary voices on national radio shows, and plugged myself and my prior radio experience. LOL.

I asked if they had a chatroom or online forum for their callers and listeners and those who wanted to reach out to them and their network via social media and the web.  I asked where was the solution-oriented rhetoric of Black talk radio and where was the evidence of the action that gets taken as a result of it.  I also (as a solution oriented person), offered to help the show enhance its social media arm in whatever way I could, and I asked how I could be of service.

The next thing I know, the call was disconnected, and the host of the show as lightly responding to my comments, and moving on to the next segment.  In going back and listening to the show a few minutes later live over the air (since it was preempted for several minutes), I noticed that I had been disconnected by them, and that they just continued to move along and talk about the topic with other callers.  The next caller that followed me made comments that were slightly bashing the under 35 crowd (to which I had identified myself), and further bashing the over 35 crowd for their inability to turn off the hip hop in their cars, and listen to Black talk radio.

What struck me the most about this situation is that it's very much indicative of the same ideology that now has Black publications like Essence, Ebony, and Jet in jeopardy of losing their legacy because they can't remain creatively adaptable to the new media environment.  I've seen time and time again where Black media outlets (like many Black people) are always "Johnny Come Latelys" when it comes to embracing technology and things that are truly innovative and about change.

Now, I will allow for the fact that the disconnected call I had on Al's show was a mistake, and I'm actually going to see what I can do moving forward to work with the show, within the capacity that I stated on the air, but if Black radio dies, as well as Black newspapers and other publications, it will be their own fault!

And I want to be clear here: I do believe there will ALWAYS be Black faces present in media, but it will be media that we don't own!  It will be media that puts us at the forefront (in front of the camera or microphone), but the ones pulling the strings, and making the decisions will be white, and as such, they will chiefly be in control of what we say, and what we cannot say.

I guarantee you, you will ALWAYS be able to see Black folks making a fool of themselves, acting ignorant, and just plain stupid on TV, in radio, and on the internet, because projecting that kind of imagery that we are a bunch of idiotic buffoons furthers SOMEONE'S agendas into thinking we're just a bunch of no-account people who deserve second and third class citizenry status!

So, I'll update you on what happens here, but right now, it looks to me that Black radio is doomed in terms of embracing social media effectively.  Right before I was on the Al Sharpton show, I posted a comment on Twitter about my "upcoming radio debut", and I also did a Twitter search for "Al Sharpton radio".  Nothing came up in the search for today's show, or anything relevant for the topic at hand.  THIS is why Black radio is failing. 

I'm not saying the internet is EVERYTHING, but people in their 50s, 60s and 70s, who don't use the internet are dying out, and I understand that the AM radio crowd is limited in a number of ways, but you are shooting yourself in the foot by not figuring out a way to incorporate the new into the old.

And with that said: I really need to have my own radio show! My goodness, I'm running 6 podcast series already! And my voice is lovely!  Where is Michael Baisden or Tom Joyner to open up the door for me?! LOL.  Ok, on the last part I'm kidding, I wouldn't expect either of them to do that for me, since I don't listen to either of their shows on a regular basis, so they probably care nothing about me, as I'm not in their target demographic.

If by chance you happen to be affiliated with a Black radio station, please feel free to get in touch with me.  You can Google Me, and you can find out other ways to reach me via KindraCotton.com.


1 comment:

  1. social media is nice, but it's not the end all and be all of us to move forward, black folk always act as if we don't chase the hottest thing out their then we ain't happening, it takes more than that to be innovative, the problem with black radio today is a reflection of black america in general afraid to call it as it is outhere today, and that is why u see and hear a steady throng of black folk say we gotta have our comedy and jokes in the am and noon and love making music at night, u won't hear anything about self empowerment a very simple thing and always paramount in any community, but instead it's the jokes and act the fool we have been conditioned to take as our type of media and even allow it to be defined as our culture, u now even see those same issues crop up on social media platforms. It takes alittle god given commonsence and not being afriad to call it as it is.


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