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Monday, November 26, 2012
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Time to Play Radio Race Card

I am not without sin but will cast this stone. What follows was written on November 13, then shelved. I chose not to publish it because it was off the beaten path of where my radio industry writings usually go.

On November 19, news broke about a morning show host at WNWS-FM posting his thoughts on Facebook about President Obama, his wife, and daughters. The words "...a pimp walking prez married to cheetahs daughter..." are all the context you need to see bigotry. Yet the radio industry allows this man a position of responsibility as the mouthpiece of the station! All we've heard from General Manager Larry Woods is this: "...Bill is taking a few days off."

I thought again about publishing what follows but refrained.

This morning we are all treated to the story of "Tyrone the Black Christmas Fairy." This story even has an employee who spoke up with "Ah, isnít that kind of racially insensitive to drag a black man behind a tow truck, be it in good spirits or not?"

I've had enough! Today my story gets printed.

It's time to talk about a topic nobody in the radio industry wants to discuss, i.e., why there are so few black people working in it. Why is it that I can scan through five leading online radio publications and find that out of 106 pictures of people in the radio industry (with a few from the labels) 101 are of Caucasians; three pictures are of blacks; two pictures are of non-whites (FCC commissioner Ajit Pai and Geraldo Rivera).

I did a recount this morning (November 26). The tally? Of 90 pictures, two were of blacks: Steve Harvey and "Tyrone" hanging from a tow truck.

Today I added 4 more radio industry publications that were not in the original count; of their 55 pictures, only 1 was of a black man.

(View your typical "staff" page for the radio industry, courtesy of the above-mentioned WNWS-FM.)

"While you're at it, how about giving some of this power to YOUNG black men and women..." Why are none of the radio industry trades asking why there are so few African-Americans working in radio?

(Notice that - as of 11am this morning - the story about the Raleigh NC Clear Channel radio station and "Tyrone" is not reported in Clear Channel-owned Inside Radio.)

Let me drop a quote from the (RTNDA) "2012 TV and Radio News Staffing and Profitability Survey": "In the last 22 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 10.4%; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 3.7%, and the minority workforce in radio is up 0.9%." And we're only talking about "news" department staffing here, a place where 88.3% of the radio staff are - yep - Caucasians. And 91.3% of "News Directors" are Caucasian.

We've heard rumors that the radio industry is nothing but an old white boys club, and that few of these old men - they are nearly all men - understand enough about this great radio migration to digital to lead. We're also learning how they do not understand that minorities are a growing portion of the population. (Given that most of these old white men are Republican, you'd think this last election drove that point home.)

So why is it that we have more diversity in the population yet so little in what's creating a mass media's content, like a radio?

"Arbitron Black Radio Today 2012 finds that about 93% of Black consumers aged 12 years and over listened to the radio in an average week during the Fall 2011 survey period. Black men and women in the key demographic of 35-54 listened in even greater numbers." You have nearly the entire African-American population tuning into radio. How is an old white man going to know what's best for this community? (Radio One is acknowledged.)

It's time to play the race card and demand that radio, as a mass media, have a more proportionate number of blacks in leadership positions. While you're at it, how about giving some of this power to YOUNG black men and women. The executive suites need to be culled of the older white males who aren't doing too much anyway.

...Late breaking bit of news: View RAB's "Why Radio." It's full of pictures with black people - posing as radio listeners.

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