Home Music Industry News Question from RF Reader: Why are Black DJs Disposable?

Question from RF Reader: Why are Black DJs Disposable?


A recent story you ran about Funk Flex caught my attention.  For the past 20 years, I have always questioned Radio’s Senior Execs as to why Black format personalities don’t have value after successfully building their brands were they become household names. My question is always, how we can learn from other formats to maximize a stapled brands value. Here is my example; http://www.insideradio.com/free/shannon-deal-good-business-for-wcbs-fm/article_c987f47c-374c-11e5-ba94-efdb2b082266.html Scott Shannon, even during a low ratings period stayed employed during his off years with not only renewed contracts but better compensation.  Talent such as Frankie Crocker, Donnie Simpson and Vaughn Harper had as high if not higher audience recognition in the marketplaces, couldn’t stay employed no matter how solid their brand.   I can name many markets with the same themes, or the father to son hand off for 75 years of the three generations of -John B., John A. and John R Gambling- were hosts of WOR Radio’s (710 AM) morning show Rambling With Gambling.  At what point do we say, he and or she paid his/her dues and has market value.  The only thing I see is the undeniable void that will happen when Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey hang up their mics.  Those are the only two, because of their market penetration, that executives are going to insist that they continue their run until they decide that they can no longer work.

Maurice Singleton III

Thanks Maurice,

The biggest difference between urban and other formats when it comes to Jock branding is “leverage” plain and simple. Black jocks are terrified to utilize their leverage and they leave it in the hands of the Corporation waiting for PPM stats and bonuses instead of creating their own Those who aren’t terrified don’t take advantage of the opportunity. They sit back and wait and think that what they have today will last forever. I was just having this conversation with a hard-working vet black jock the other day. He stated that black jocks are lazy and reactive and that they sit in their positions, don’t do the extra work, don’t get to know the clients, don’t get any work on their own, have boring shows with low ratings then they get fired and that’s it.  They sit back for months and sometimes years waiting for the next lateral opportunity to start the process all over again. They never change, don’t believe in social networking and they think that their skills will continue to sustain them. In other words this black vet Jock was saying that black jocks are lazy.  Ironically, it’s not even an age thing today. I think many that jocks are afraid they are viewed as old and dated and unfortunately many are but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in broadcasting today, digital technology has opened the doors for just about anyone with an interesting concept, compelling content and great ideas to succeed across the board. But you have to put in the work.

It is a huge mistake for us to continue to look back at what was because it is no longer, this includes Frankie Crocker, Donnie Simpson and Vaughn Harper.  Radio was a very different animal in those days and those jocks had the opportunity to separate themselves from the rest and they did a great job of it. The only one of the three that I could see surviving in today’s radio is  a young Frankie Crocker.  Someone who knows their value, has the looks and the talent, uses their leverage, puts in the work,  creates their own opportunities, separates themselves from the rest, and are bold in their approach to the game.  He was ahead of his time. That’s what made Frankie a legend and it’s what can make someone a legend today if they have the balls to charge like a bull and make it happen. When we don’t own radio stations we can’t make the rules so we can’t tell Radio One or iHeartmedia how to operate. Without question Scott Shannon has certainly seen his better days, and while I wouldn’t listen to him, someone is. By now  you know that level playing fields are rare in the radio game and beyond. On the urban side, Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey are the exceptions, so the opportunities are there on this side too and when they do hang up their hats I’m less concerned with who will fill their shoes and more concerned with would anyone even WANT to still work in urban radio at that point.  As the industry progresses, radio corporations are more than aware that new talent is going to be already established online and already in show business, networking their asses off building their own brands and not coming to radio with radio experience but branding experience.  “Paying dues” today has little credibility as a matter of fact, it probably will hurt you in the end, I would surmise the industry is looking more for “Breaking rules.”

My Best



CEO of RF Focus, Radio and Music Industry Veteran. Radio DJ, Programmer, Musician and Voice Talent. Graduated from Performing Arts in Buffalo, N.Y. and worked at the legendary KKBT (92.3 The Beat) during its nationwide heyday in the early 90s. Also worked for Stevie Wonder at KJLH.


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