November 8, 2013

Ebony Magazine Explores The State of Black Radio

Former radio hosts Wendy Williams, K-Foxx & Sway Calloway and others are featured in a new Ebony feature article titled The State of Black Radio: Death of The Communicator.

“In terrestrial radio, you can no longer luxuriate over conversations, so I think I got out just in time,” former radio DJ Wendy Williams explained during an interview on Sway in the Morning. “Because it’s all about ‘the music and the jocks be quiet.’ And I don’t care about the music. I’m a personality.”

The article written by former New York terrestrial radio personality Raqiyah Mays explores the state of Black Radio. Before going into the article we take a look at one excerpt from the piece.

"The typical ‘Black radio’ doesn’t quite address or serve what ‘Black America’ is today. It stereotypically speaks to a 1960s, ’70s reality when we are in a 2013 reality." -former WWRL morning show host Karen Hunter

We actually believe that the typical "Black" radio stations from the 1960's and 70's would more than serve the issues facing the African American community today. But who would listen? Way back in the day Black Radio aired various music formats, (soul, r&b, gospel, jazz), had larger than life on-air personalities, and produced their own local news broadcasts. What music stations really do their own news outside of morning drive time other than WHUR in D.C.? Taken in that light, 'Black Radio' doesn't exist anywhere in this country. Music radio is what exists today, so how can it address a 2013 reality, without turning off listeners? That is the state of Black Radio.

The article features K Foxx, formerly of Hot 97 in New York... She was let go rather quietly from the Hip Hop station for unsaid reasons that probably had to do with the ratings and popularity of the Breakfast Club on rival station Power 105.1. She was the "Black" part of the morning show that promoted itself as the show with "A Black, Puerto Rican, and a Jew." She was replaced by another female voice and the station's PD, Ebro Darden. K Foxx is now the evening host on 103.5 The Beat in Miami.

However we are not alarmed and don't see (as stated in the article)... "the release of K-Foxx from the airwaves pointed to a growing trend of one less voice of color in the media." Her voice on the show was not very impactful on the male dominated show on Hot 97 anyway. No disrespect to her. What should be a bigger concern to New York City Tri-state area listeners was the demise of urban ac station 98.7 Kiss FM leaving only one adult FM station in the largest city in America. That station being WBLS. That is the state of Black Radio at least in New York.

With all the talk of the demise of Black Radio over the years, there's never been a time in Black Radio, where there has ever been as powerful voices in radio as Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey. For what it's worth they are issued driven syndicated morning shows when it is warranted. Perhaps stations need to bolster their local radio personalities during the rest of their broadcast schedule to balance out the perception that Black radio is in trouble. Remember radio is an entertainment business. Joyner and Harvey have made an impact on many station's bottom line across the country. They've done a pretty good job of  being communicators. As far as personalities that may one day replace those two in the future; a way will be made for their talent. That is the state of Black Radio.

 FROM EBONY MAGAZINE- - The summertime’s sudden firing of Hot 97 morning show co-host K-Foxx left her describing the experience as “liberating.” Says K-Foxx: “I think that sometime these corporations higher [sic] communicators to do a job and be a personality. But I think when you shine too bright, they want to dim your light.”

As the only African-American female on Hot 97 (a station where she was one of two Black personalities), the release of K-Foxx from the airwaves pointed to a growing trend of one less voice of color in the media. And when it comes to Black radio, the concept of an AM or FM dial having a color increasingly seems to be outdated.

“I don’t think it’s really Black radio anymore. We are kind of beyond that. We’ve grown out of that term,” says K-Foxx, who’s moved on to explore other options as a media personality and philanthropist. “I think music is not Black. I think that it’s colorless now.”

Maybe this viewpoint comes from the age of gentrification, when we look out our windows into what used to be a neighborhood of all Black and brown races, and now see a rainbow coalition featuring pale skin, red hair and blue eyes. We turn on the TV and see a much-loved biracial president elected into a second term, while on another channel, we witness Black-created arts and culture accessibly embraced by youth of every shade, worldwide.

So when it comes to, say, African-American radio, for example, the old “for us by us” concept seems to be “obsolete,” says former WWRL morning show host Karen Hunter. “Our nation is very diverse. The typical ‘Black radio’ doesn’t quite address or serve what ‘Black America’ is today. It stereotypically speaks to a 1960s, ’70s reality when we are in a 2013 reality. So when I talk about Black radio, I am talking about Black culture in general. Black leadership in general, it’s obsolete, outdated and tone deaf.”

Read more at EBONY and post your comments

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