We are taking our radio stations back!! Have you listened to the state of radio lately, especially black formats? In most markets it’s awful these days.
Are you familiar with the term BoB? Did you know at one time there were hundreds of BoB’s? What’s a BoB? BoB=Black owned Broadcasters who operate radio and TV stations in the US.
From the 1950’s – the early 1990’s radio was an industry regulated in part by the FCC (Federal Communication Commission). Part of the regulations included provisons that stipulated that private companies could only own a few (2-3) radio stations in any given market. This prevented monopolies from forming so that no company could control the market and the dissemination of programming information in it. There were also provisions that allowed private individuals to own radio stations at “affordable” prices. During the Civil rights era, several black broadcasters were able to pool money and purchase many stations nationwide. These independent BoB operators helped to shape many R&B and Gospel formats and at the time all stations were required to provide news and public affairs programming as part of their programming.
This allowed many BoB’s to flourish and they proudly operated stations serving the black communities nationwide. Heritage stations like WBLS in NYC, WHUR in DC, WAMO in Pittsburgh, WJMO in Cleveland, WTLC in Indianapolis, WCIN in Cincinnati, WLOU in Louisville, WFLM on the Treasure coast in Florida, WGCI in Chicago, WVEE in Atlanta, WPLG in Charlotte, WOWI in Norfolk, KJLH in LA and a host of BOB’s in others cities were flourishing all over the country.
They often were top stations in their respective markets and radio offered a much better balance of news, music and other programming options. Many stations had their own news departments which were required to meet the FCC requirements at the time. They covered their communities better than the TV news in many areas. They brought a better balance to news coverage, especially in minority communites.
This all changed in the late 1980s and early 1990’s. During this time several court decisions were successfully launched by some of the larger corporations that sought to deregulate the radio industry. One of the biggest cases was won by Clear Channel Radio (now called I Heart Radio) that challenged the non-monopoly rules. They argued why should they be victims of their own success? If they can afford to operate several stations in a market, then why can’t they buy them? They argued that the market should regulate and balance out itself and the Supreme Court agreed.
Thus radio Deregulation was born. Little did people know that soon 90% of all of the BoB’s would be bought out, radio properties were sold to the highest bidder and the radio properties prices were driven from the thousands into the millions to purchase. Clear Channel in particular was very aggressive and it bought out almost all of the BoBs.
Once the corporations got control of the stations, the formats were rapidly changed and the corporate programming became sponsor driven, rather than listener driven. Radio as we had know it previously was forever changed. They created cookie cutter formats all over the country. They also succesfully argued that the requirement that all stations operate news and public affairs programming should be relaxed, so most news departments in radio were disbanded. This is why the news and the radio formats are so corporately controlled with very few independent voices left to bring varying perspectives.
Well, I think it’s beyond time to bring this corporate monopoly stuff to come to a screeching halt!!
Fortunately technology has evolved to a point where other alternatives like internet radio has become viable for BoB’s to again enter the radio market. Satellite radio is another option that millions are listening to.
It’s time we take our radio stations and control of our music back from these corporate giants who have time and time again shown that they only see minority stations as cash cows designed to “milk” as much money as possible out of minority communities without providing them with well balanced news, public affairs, or other positive programming alternatives.
The proflieration of Hip Hop radio formats is where most of these corporate stations have taken the black community. They don’t care about improving the community, they just want to create revenue streams. Since deregulation, this has been what’s been going on.
I’m part of a new network of internet radio station owners who are seeking to break up this monopoly. I’m one of several new BoB’s who really are offering better radio alternatives that again focus on listener interests, rather than sponsor driven prigramming. While we may not have as much money for large marketing campaigns, know that there are a growing number of former broadcasters who are now on the internet providing great new stations and formats that are not beholding to any large corporation.
Over the next several months some of my collegues and I will be letting you know more about our stations and we hope that the public will help us by exploring our stations, learning who we are and what kinds of formats and programs we offer.
Yes we can also use your sponsorship and finacial support and it may take some getting used to listening to radio on the internet, but it’s really something that’s been a long time coming and these broadcasters are serious about taking radio back to the people and offering much improved programming.
In light of so much chaos going on these days, especially in minority communities nationwide, don’t you think it’s time that we more input in what gets presented to our communities through the media? It’s time again for our voices to get heard!!
Finally here’s a partial list of some of the new BoB’s web-based stations with R&B and Gospel formats that you may want to learn about. Please Forgive the shameless plugs for my two stations: www.1067thebridge.com and www.thegospelbridge.com, but I want you all to know we are here 24/7 working to bring you better quality radio than what you’ve been hearing from the corporations.
Here’s some additional stations for you to check out: www.southernsoulnetwork.com
There are many more internet stations that I don’t have room to list here. You can find more stations on an app called Tune In (www.tunein.com) you’ll literally find thousands of stations with all kinds of formats.
Please check these out and know that you no longer have to be stuck listening to mediocre corporate stations that really don’t have your communites best interests at heart.
John Hairston is a former WHUR and WMMJ On Air Personality in Washington, DC who currently owns and operates two online radio stations based in San Antonio, TX.