Is There Any Hope for Black Radio?
Radio stations went from being black owned, serving local communities
to being a part of corporations that serve stock holders instead of listeners
It’s hard to understand what Black radio should be when it’s been missing for years.
After the demise of legendary WRKS-FM in New York, Michael Baisden has been on air petitioning his listeners for a spot on WBLS-FM, New York’s remaining Black adult format. Baisden, while correct on the silencing of Black voices on radio, is dead wrong about Black radio’s problem being something new. Black radio has been taking a whipping for almost 15 years.
The 1996 Telecomm Act, was the beginning of the end of Black owned and formatted radio stations. The [President Bill] Clinton backed Telecomm Act, lifted ownership limits and ushered in a new era of corporate ownership. Local programming, news, music and voices have been systematically homogenized. Black radio’s microphone has been muted.
The Telecomm Act, disproportionally affected people of color. Radio stations went from being black owned, serving local communities to being a part of corporations that serve stock holders instead of listeners. The real problem Baisden misses is what black radio used to mean for local communities. Black radio at one time was the main authentic source for all parts of Black culture.
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