February 17, 2009

Radio One Should Have Dumped "Grown Folks Radio"

If I was the Reverend Al Sharpton or even Warren Ballentine I might be a bit salty this week with my employer Radio One, for taking me off the air in Atlanta. Syndication One, the supplier of these African American based talk shows, owned by Radio One, just celebrated their third year anniversary with Al Sharpton's show "Keeping It Real". They obviously don't have your back Al and Warren when it comes to supporting your efforts to bring issues effecting the African American community to the airwaves.

Despite the fact that Radio One is a Black owned company, I think (...not sure who sits on the board and makes the financial decision for the company, besides chairman Alfred Liggins); they have decided to dump Sharpton and Ballentine's talk shows in favor of more R&B music in Atlanta during the midday hours of 10 AM to 3 PM. Those shows are currently heard on Sirius XM satellite radio channel 169 The Power, and on a few AM stations around the country. Maybe it's a sign, that Radio One is about to pull the plug on syndicated Black talk radio everywhere else as well.

Radio One is basically operating with three stations that don't cover the Atlanta area very well. Although their other station, Hot 107.9 has a decent signal. The stations on 97.5, 102.5, and 107.5 have drops in their coverage and you would have no trouble at all traveling from the Northern counties of the Atlanta metro area to counties just south of Atlanta and hearing static throughout your ride. Not good.

Even with this obstacle, Steve Harvey has gained tremendously in the ratings on the crappy signal at 102.5. Now with Harvey on at Majic 107.5 and 97.5, I predict Steve Harvey will soon be the number one morning show in Atlanta. Now from a pure business standpoint, it makes sense to put Harvey and Michael Baisden on two signals to try and cover most of Atlanta and sell, sell, sell those local commercials spots and take a bite out of Kiss 104.1 and V-103. Makes perfect sense... hopefully the listeners will be able to find them through the static.

But I wish it didn't... "Grown Folks Radio," a concept of combining mature R&B music/talk radio on FM, you would think, might work in the Black Mecca of America on the heels of recent stories like the Jena 6, the Genarlow Wilson case, and the election of the first Black President. For that fact, in any urban area in America. But it doesn't. Why? Progressive, enlightening, and stimulating conversation, for the most part is not what makes the ATL tick and most of Black America. What comes to mind, is the hustle to out do the next person, celebrity fascination and programming the "Sound" of Black America with it. This sure isn't anything like Motown and the Sound of Young America in the 1960's. This is not just a problem in Atlanta but in most heavily populated African American cities, where a Black FM talk station could very well be supported. But sorry to say more R&B and Hip Hop music will win out every time over a syndicated, out-of-market talk radio show.

When only 15 people show up for a protest on a holiday, (President's Day) despite over 1,200 signed protesters on the on-line petition, the lack of a strong community focus is glaringly evident. General Manager Tim Davies responded to the protest by saying, “Hey! It’s a free country. And it’s good to see people are active and care about their radio station. That’s a great thing.”

But you know in the end, Radio One is not changing their mind.
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