How Black Radio Found Its Voice
By Chandra R. Thomas/Atlanta
Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly dominate America's talk radio while white liberal voices are mere squeaks on the airwaves. But now syndicated black radio hosts like Tom Joyner, Bev Smith, Michael Baisden and Warren Ballentine and other African-American radio personalities are not only increasingly audible to a wider audience but visible and influential as well. Says April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN): "My phone has been ringing off the hook with Fox News and MSNBC wanting interviews with me. Black radio has always been here, covering the important issues from a black perspective, but it wasn't until Barack Obama, emerged as the first black man to prove himself to be a viable presidential candidate that the mainstream media wanted to hear what we had to say. It's another example of how his candidacy has broken the mold."
Black Evil Television, Low-Power FM Neighborhood Radio, and the Congressional Black Caucus
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
“Whether the music is gangsta rap, Gospel or anything in between, the same handful of national artists sing the same handful of songs from coast to coast.”
Last month viewers of the animated TV series The Boondocks learned that BET really stands for “Black Evil Television”, calculated to stunt the spirits and curtail the intellectual growth of black youth. Satire like the Boondocks depiction of BET only works when it contains big and obvious chunks of the widely known truth. Unfortunately, commercial black radio is not much better.
Spin the dial in any major US market and you'll find one, or four, or a dozen black-oriented stations, some black-owned, but nearly all with the same handful of formats. Whether the music is gangsta rap, Gospel or anything in between, the same handful of national artists sing the same handful of songs from coast to coast. Syndicated black talk radio shows, dishing a standard mixture of celebrity gossip, audience call-ins, shallow self-help and relationship advice with a little current events thrown in occupy the remaining air time.
Although federal laws grant licenses to broadcasters only on the condition that they serve the public interest, local news, local events, and local artists are almost nowhere to be found on the radio. But that could be about to change.
Congress is now considering legislation that will open the door to hundreds of broadcast licenses for low-power FM neighborhood radio stations across the country. With a broadcast radius of only two or three miles, low-power FM neighborhood radio is an ideal vehicle for community and civil rights groups, for unions, for local artists and their promoters, for neighborhood schools and churches to gain access to the airwaves so they can provide audiences with content and services that the owners of big media will not.
(continua, con audio)
09 aprile 2008
Neri e radio americana: mainstream o micro FM?
Due lati della stessa medaglia, l'annoso problema della rappresentanza della comunità afroamericana nei media e nella politica. Mentre il settimanale Time celebra la figura della radio personality nera, Tom Joyner, in grado di rivaleggiare con i divi bianchi della talk radio conservatrice, Black Agenda Radio riporta un commento audio (con trascrizione) da parte del suo editor Bruce Dixon. La tesi, molto plausibile, è che nei mainstream media arrivino solo gli stereotipi della "negritudine", la musica soul, il gangsta rap, il Gospel... Tutte cose superficiali, che non riflettono i veri problemi dei neri d'America. Il paradosso, continua Dixon, è che mentre il pubblico si accontenta di questa presenza tutto sommato marginale, i rappresentanti democratici neri in Parlamento non compaiono neppure tra gli sponsor dell'iniziativa di legge sulle low power FM, le microstazioni di quartiere. Dixon conclude invitando tutti a scrivere ai loro deputati per far loro conoscere il progetto e la sua importanza. Sono le piccole radio, non i grossi gruppi mediatici, a poter dare voce a chi non ha la possibilità di parlare di problemi veri.