Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen four major shootings involving the police and black men. It is incredibly unfortunate that this is not new and has been a continuing major issue for decades. 40 years ago “Black radio” would be the voice of the community during these trying times stopping all music to keep the community informed about marches, rallies and protests. Many of these strategies have disappeared but you have to ask yourself if it even would work today? Since we keep finding ourselves in the same position… no, it’s not working.
Even with the advent of social media, urban radio can still be very powerful because being the voice of the community is not usually conveyed well by a 25-year-old blogger. To be TRULY effective, one must be seasoned, controversial and fearless. Do we have such black hosts today? Thank God the answer is yes. They are few in numbers but they exist and these are the times when urban radio has the opportunity to really step up to the plate to represent the black voices and to speak for those who often feel that they can’t speak for themselves. How did we do? What radio station or radio host do you feel truly represented the black community during the recent shootings?
It takes a special kind of host to carry this kind of weight first and foremost he or she MUST be intelligent and educated. Anything less is evident and I’ve seen some excellent coverage and some that was cringe-worthy. The bottom line is, as broadcast professionals, it behooves us to know more than the latest Pokemon spotting or who the best rapper of the 90s is. These are the subjects that REALLY matter and the ones that not only make great radio but create much-needed dialogue and help to bring forth change. Here are my votes for the best representatives of the community and the issues from the radio perspective.
Many years ago when DL was the sidekick comic on KJLH’s morning show, I remember thinking he was out of place. He was eons above the basic brain dead subject matter and he should have been the host but he may have made us think too hard in the mornnig. DL has the “misfortune” of being a brilliant black man who was always, seemingly, reduced to ordinary and predicable situations during his career. It’s the like the black boy that is put in Special Ed but he’s really a genius. When the black thinking man is brilliant and angry we can easily write him off until the next crisis but when he is brilliant and funny, we are confused but still want more of it. With the right platform DL would be an excellent activist and/or politician. The BEST comedians are those who can make something tragic, funny and make you think about it at the same time. However, there wasn’t a lot to laugh about over the last couple of weeks.
DL is our top radio pic for being the BEST urban radio representative. He reminds me of a modern day James Baldwin. He has the same passion when it comes to black people and he is fearless. Unlike many black celebrities who want to keep the checks coming in and not offend anyone, he’s not concerned with a paycheck or sponsorship as much as he is allowing the suffocated advocate within him to voice his concern. His interview with Meagan Kelly on Fox News was swift and agile and reminded me of James Baldwin’s 1968 interview on the Dick Cavett show (under his interview with Megan).
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