July 23, 2008

Disappering Voices - The Decline of Black Radio

“Disappearing Voices – The Decline of Black Radio”New film on the decreasing numbers of Black owned radio stationsVeteran radio broadcaster Bob Law has partnered with independent film director U-Savior and Black Waxx Multimedia, Inc. to produce a new documentary film that explores the realities of Black radio ownership. At the time of the making of the film the U.S. Census Bureau reported that out of 10,315 commercial AM and FM radio stations in the United States, only 168 are Black-owned – and even that number is declining. Most of those 168 are owned by Radio One.

The film claims: ... in the late 1960’s a shift began when Madison Avenue started realizing just how much influence Black radio had over its audience. White-owned stations featuring Black disc jockeys got scared that these jocks were becoming bigger than the station itself and therefore in the position to demand more money. Thus, in the 1970’s something called “urban contemporary” came into being, co-opting Black music and phasing out Black radio in favor of a supposedly colorless society.

We respectfully disagree with this point. Legendary disc jockey Frankie Crocker coined the phrase and format "urban contemporary" at WBLS in New York in the 1970's to distinguish itself from the soul music radio heard on AM radio. Most people listened to AM radio back then and that was his hook to get listeners to switch over to the under used radio band called "FM ". This format was copied all over the United States by both Black and white owned stations playing Black music.The film is being shown in and around the New York City-New Jersey metro area. It will also be shown at upcoming African American film festivals in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and in Germany. -7/9/08

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