This Week on Blog Talk Radio: Wayne Hicks/Electronic Village & Vanessa Byers/Vanessa Unplugged

The Bloggers Roundup segment has been wildly popular, and more people are listening to the Shawn P. Williams Show than ever before. Kristin and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the guests that we’ve had, including our two heavy hitters joining us this week.

Click here to listen to an archive of last week’s show.

Thursday April 30th – Bloggers Roundup
Guests:  Wayne Hicks, Electronic Village & Vanessa Byers Vanessa: Unplugged! , on the black hand side and others.

Topics:  H1N1 Virus (swine flu), Obama’s 1st 100 Days

Time:  9PM Central and 10 PM Eastern

Call in # – (347) 215-9337
Join in online and stop by the chat room which has been really jumping.

Bloggers Roundup debuts on The Shawn P. Williams Show starting this Thursday

I’ll be talking a lot about “the new media reality” over the next few weeks. In the new media space, we will see more newspapers going out of business, more newsrooms announcing layoffs, gaps in coverage. All of this impacts people of color exponentially.

Shwan P. and Carmen D.

Shawn P. and Carmen D.

A couple of weeks ago NPR’s News and Notes, a program geared towards African-Americans, recorded their last show. News and Notes formerly aired a segment called Bloggers Roundtable that was a source of pride among black bloggers. Twice a week, Farai Chideya and then Tony Cox invited bloggers from around the country to discuss a wide range of issues on the show.

I was on the segment with Kevin Ross (The Kevin Ross Show) the day that it was announced that News and Notes was going off the air. The cancellation leaves a void in the public discussion among black folks. You can look at the forums on many shows like This Week or Jim Lehrer and see there . In the new media age rather than begging others to provide the coverage, we have to do it ourselves.

Blog Talk Radio gives us an opportunity to continue this meeting of the minds on a weekly basis. This week on The Shawn P. Williams Show, Kristin and I will host our first Bloggers Roundup on Thursday April 2nd. Our guest will be L.N. Rock aka African American Political Pundit from his site of the same name and Carmen D. from the blog All About Race. I’ve contacted a representative at NPR and Farai to let them know we plan to “take care” of the concept until they bring it back.

Spread the word

Thursday on Shawn P. Williams Show: Is 2009 the end of media as we know it?

Join Kristin and I Thursday night as we talk about the state of media in general and what that means for Black Media in particular. Kevin Ross broached the subject on Dallas South and after spending a week at the Poynter Institute with some of the top minds in new media, I think we need to  explore the topic on  Blog Talk Radio.

Link to Shawn P. Williams Show

Check us out tonight at 9 PM Central.

Shawn P. Williams Show revisits “Black Males in America” Thursday at 9PM on Blog Talk Radio

Join Kristin and I tonight on The Shawn P. Williams Show as we talk about solutions as it relates to “Black Males in America.”  We will also discuss AIG and the fallout surrounding their executives receiving millions of dollars in bonuses.

Last weeks show was one of our best yet, and the chat room was going off with people weighing in on everything to male responsibility, excuse making, and what women do to help and hurt the situation.

Click here to listen to the show Thursday night a 9 PM.   Also, check out last weeks show by clicking here.

Blog Talk Radio Show -The Shawn P. Williams Show- returns Thursday March 12th

After a couple of weeks off the air, Kristin and I are bringing back a new and improved version of our Blog Talk Radio Show. Thursday night at 9 p.m. we’re back on the air with a show focusing on the latest news from the Obama Administration, the RNC upheaval over Rush Limbaugh, and the state of the Black Male in America.

The show has a new title -The Shawn P. Williams Show- and new address www.blogtalkradio.com/shawnpwilliamsshow .

Our guest on Thursday night will be community advocate and mentor Ski Chills. Make sure to tune and and spread the word.

Kevin Ross: Internet Radio to the Rescue (Part 5 of 5)

INTERNET RADIO TO THE RESCUE

By Kevin Ross

No wonder bloggers and specifically the black blogosphere have become the go-to folks for bringing issues such as these to the forefront. And for many, sites like Blogtalkradio are assisting in that effort. One of several online stations that have come on the scene in the last few years, Blogtalkradio allows anyone with a phone and a computer to host and podcast their own Internet radio program for free.

Last year the social networking site saw exponential growth with hundreds of hosts from all racial and ethnic groups. In November 2008, some 3.8 million listeners tuned in to Blogtalkradio, nearly 750,000 or 16% of which were African-American alone. These folks clearly have something to say and are finding an audience, albeit small, eager to hear it.

Obviously these hosts are playing in the minors while superstars like Limbaugh reign supreme in the big league.

“I have a very simple philosophy … put the very best product you can on the air, regardless of origin,” says Gabe Hobbs, a senior vice president for programming at Clear Channel for twenty-five years.

Hobbs was among those recently laid off at the San Antonio, TX based company as a result of low ad sales.

In 2010, blacks are estimated to spend $1 trillion dollars. Hispanics are on tap to exceed $1.2 trillion by 2011.

Both groups listen to talk, yet unanswered text messages to radio execs are saying loud and clear, “I’m just not into you.”

“These hiring authorities, in contrast to their reputations for being visionaries and innovative programmers, don’t appear to be as either visionary or innovative; but, rather, they seem awkward or clueless, oblivious or insensitive about their responsibility for inclusive hiring. This lack of inclusiveness appears to be a failure of leadership rather than as outright racism or the intentional exclusion of minorities,” says Meyers.

Meyers goes on to point out that the widely-held perception that mainstream, majority-owned AM Talk Radio stations are broadcasting mostly or only Caucasian talk show hosts daily is accurate. “This is a problem of defacto racial segregation that is both easily recognizable and easily fixed. It is a challenge to the stations’ executives– people of good-will, to a person, we are sure– for prompt, corrective action,” Meyers concludes.

These were the identical words he used in 2000. Eight years later, News/Talk became the number one format in terrestrial radio.

Sound check one-two, one-two! Is this thing on?

There’s a saying that goes “I can’t hear you, because your actions are speaking too loudly.” Well, for radio companies such as Cumulus, Westwood One, Citadel, CBS, Premiere, Cox, Salem and Clear Channel, the silence of minority voices is most certainly not golden. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

To the point of being deafening. John &

Kevin Ross is president and CEO of strategic marketing firm 3BAAS Media Group. A former talent on KABC, he currently hosts his own show on Blogtalkradio and blogs at 3 Brothers And A Sister.

Kevin Ross: Don Imus/Fairness Doctrine 2.0 (Part 4 of 5)

Don Imus Was Gone… And Then POOF, He Was THERE AGAIN

BY KEVIN ROSS

When acerbic radio personality Don Imus created the “nappy-headed ho’” firestorm after his 2007 comments about Rutgers women’s basketball team sparked universal outrage, mainstream media was suddenly looking for insight from self-appointed and elected black leaders. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who himself has a syndicated program, mentioned that political talk shows don’t have minorities as their main hosts, (para) “It’s all white… all night.”

Those partial comments came on the heels of MSNBC snatching Imus from his morning cable show and then teeing up possible replacements. KABC’s Elder was given the opportunity to “tryout” for a week.

Afterwards, no other African American was afforded the courtesy of auditioning to be a talking head. Not one.

Ultimately congressman turned media personality Joe Scarborough got the gig (along with Bill O’Reilly’s old slot on KABC) and black screenwriter John Riley became part of the morning team briefly before quickly fading off the scene.

As for Imus, he was back on the air after a year with an undisclosed financial settlement from CBS. KABC is the current radio home for the cantankerous sexagenarian, who has seen his clout and his national ratings only slightly diminish since the incident.

The upside is Imus now has two African American as part of his morning crew. Bravo, considering in all likelihood they would be collecting unemployment benefits alongside other black hosts who know first-hand how tough it is to land a gig in the current climate.

Even at stations where non-whites are employed as talk show hosts, tokenism seems to triumph. Meyers reports states, “There may be ‘a’ black talk show host, but seldom blacks, and Latinos, and Asians among the talk show host line-ups on the stations that broadcast all-day and into the night and even into the wee hours of the morning. Whether commercially-sponsored or listener, corporate funded, these AM radio stations possibly perceive minority talk show hosts either as hard to find or not available– or as not “as qualified” or “as entertaining” as the Caucasians they consistently employ.”

That argument is also being advanced in sports talk, where athletes of color in fields including basketball, football, baseball and soccer take center stage. For better or worse, these shows talk about these athletes, but rarely are minorities leading the discussion. Two notable exceptions are The Michael Irvin Show, hosted by the former Dallas Cowboy star, and The 2 Live Stews, featuring Doug and Ryan Stewart. Both are intent on muscling their way onto the scene with impressive results. But these developments may not do enough to placate talk radio junkies fired up with “Yes We Can” audacity.

And their discontent will only become increasingly impolite as the simmering battle playing out between President Barack Obama and Limbaugh, gathers steam.

fAIRNESS DOCTRINE 2.0

Radio personality Bill Press has opined that the ongoing Commander in Chief versus the King of Talk slugfest is Exhibit A why Congress should re-enact the Fairness Doctrine, the federal ruling to insure that different voices are able to speak with equal force and influence on matters of public discourse. Having recently lost his syndicated spot on OBAMA AM 1260 AM in Washington D.C., here’s a recent exchange between Press and US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI):

PRESS: Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?

STABENOW: I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.

PRESS: Can we count on you to push for some hearings in the United States Senate this year, to bring these owners in and hold them accountable?

STABENOW: I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen.

Yep.

Locally, Press broadcasts on KTLK AM 1150 with comedian Stephanie Miller, Randy Rhodes, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The Clear Channel station – to their credit – has the most women on the L.A. airwaves. And we’re not talking sidekicks.

And yet KTLK’s “left leaning” ideology doesn’t square up with their hosts daily diatribes about how the Republican Party is this “bastion of out-of-touch white men” when everyone at KTLK Monday through Friday is also white.

So for all the hand-wringing Press engages in over the Fairness Doctrine, his angst completely obfuscates the issue that even “liberal” talk outlets can’t reconcile.

Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that traditional radio should not be regulated is actually a sound argument. The Fairness Doctrine would negatively impact an already challenged industry in tuned to what its audience wants. The real issue is one of opportunities missed, and industry leaders having enough foresight and introspection to not only say “What are we doing?” but “Why are we continuing to do it?”

Look at Sirius XM, a satellite company whose stock is trading at 12 cents a share, is potentially facing a hostile takeover, and likely will file bankruptcy because of an inability to pay a $175 million debt payment due on February 17. What will this mean for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and friends and other shows featuring minorities? Don’t look to the NAACP, in the midst of their centennial celebration, for answers.


Even Radio One, the largest radio broadcast company targeting African Americans and urban listeners, just dropped Reverend Al Sharpton and Warren Ballentine from their roster as they pair down. Within the last 18 months, Radio One has gone from owning 70 stations to 52 in 16 markets.

Kevin Ross is noted Republican who hosts The Kevin Ross Show, a conservative political show on Blog Talk Radio and blogs at Three Brothers and a Sister. This post is part of a five part series exploring the lack of diversity in radio.

Kevin Ross Part 3 – Blame it on the economy

BLAME IT ON THE ECONOMY

By Kevin Ross

Per 2008 revenues, terrestrial radio is a $15 billion dollar a year hustle. And yet for many, radio is a bad business to be in right now. The industry has suffered its worst year since 1954, the eighth consecutive “struggling” year.

ABC News puts it all in context. “The radio industry, just like newspapers and books and other forms of media, is facing an unprecedented financial crunch. Radio advertising revenue dropped by 9 percent in the third quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in the previous year, and many radio companies are saddled with huge amounts of debt. As a result, more stations are turning to syndicated programming. Radio stations typically can broadcast syndicated shows at no cost; they just have to allow a distributor to sell some of the commercials on the show. In some cases, it’s cheaper for a station to air syndicated programming than to hire a local talk show host.”

That may be a wise strategy, but a heavy focus on national shows creates another problem: The next generations of KGIL Laura Ingraham’s or Michael Savage’s won’t have the opportunity to learn their craft at radio stations if there are no on-air shifts for them to take.

Media giant Clear Channel Communications, which owns more than 1,200 US radio stations including KFI, is actually down-sizing. The company recently laid-off 9 percent of its employees. Of those 1,850 workers, comprised of radio personalities and executives, few will be able to find jobs in an industry that will likely see even deeper cuts unless the economy rebounds by the third quarter of 2009. At a 52-week high of $25.69, Clear Channel’s shares are currently hovering around $5.00.

Other radio stocks are also performing horribly. Regent Communications sank 94% to 9 cents last year and Citadel dropping 92% to 16 cents a share. According to Reuters, the rest of the carnage looks like this: Emmis Communications down 91%, Entercom off 90%, Salem Communications down 89%, Radio One off 81%, Cumulus Media down 79%, Saga Communications down 72%, Beasley Broadcast off 64% and Cox Radio down 51%.

Then there’s the matter of precedent. Radio stations have never really embraced diversity. And without much sustained outcry from civil rights groups or the Federal Communications Commission, these outlets have absolutely no incentive to do so now.

In California, for instance, Tavis Smiley is the only minority in the state with an English language nationally syndicated talk radio show. Smiley, a popular African American author and PBS television personality who is also a KABC alum, lives in Los Angeles along with his contemporaries such as Larry King of KGIL and CNN, and Adam Corolla of KLSX. Despite the odds, Smiley broke through and is succeeding with aplomb.

This racial gerrymandering is not simply limited to on-air talent. The only discernible nonwhite employee in KFI’s news department, judging by the station’s web page, is Asian anchor Ginger Chan and Latina Editor Karla Marquez. The rest of the 15 member crew is completely white, with 6 of them being female. While producer Ray Lopez of the John and Ken show is Latino, there are likely few, if any, other minority producers employed. Veteran radio talent Mark Austin Thomas, who is African American, was recently added to helm the on-air news department at KABC.

For most, particularly women of color, the glass ceiling is showing no signs of breaking. The recent cancellation of LA based NPR’s News & Notes with Farai Chideya (a black female national host) due to financial constraints was one small crack that was quickly sealed. That leaves Dominique DiPrima of the Stevie Wonder owned Adult Contemporary station 102.3 FM KJLH. DiPrima offers up daily talk from 4:30-6:00 am before the all music format kicks in.

With that pretty much being as good as it gets, as is it any wonder why the political commentary or pop culture discussions that play out on cable news or the Sunday political shows tends to reflect the views of the majority?

Kevin Ross is noted Republican who hosts The Kevin Ross Show, a conservative political show on Blog Talk Radio and blogs at Three Brothers and a Sister. This post is part of a five part series exploring the lack of diversity in radio.

Kevin Ross Part 2 – All White All the Time

ALL WHITE, ALL THE TIME

By Kevin Ross


This “preference for white” in Los Angeles, the second largest media market in the country behind New York, is nothing new. With Elder’s absence, however, the racial disparities now go beyond jarring. Of the six talk outlets, not one has an Asian, Native American, Latino, or African American holding court on the dial during the week.

There are 48 individuals being given incredible opportunities to make hordes of cash and hold sway over public opinions on the issues facing the nation. Of the cast of characters, 38 are white men, mostly over 40, and frequently accused of demagoguery. White women make up the rest, equally split in terms of their political ideology and two not sharing top billing with their male co-host.

Among the six, only CBS owned KLSX 97.1 is on the FM dial. While more entertainment focused with the likes of child actor turned train wreck Danny Bonaduce, or the outrageous Tom Leykis, the absence of non-white lead talent is still glaringly apparent. In that sense, listening to KLSX is like watching eleven seasons of ABC’s The Bachelor or Bachelorette series.

When President Barack Obama talked change coming to America on the campaign trial, was this one of the examples he was referring to?

Most answers come hastily with a resounding yes.

But this issue is not just a West Coast phenomenon. Across the country, public financed and privately held stations are banishing minorities to the unemployment line in favor of nationally syndicated hosts like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. According to the blog Urban Radio Nation, the only black talk radio stations in the United States are WVON Chicago; WURD Philadelphia; CBS Radio’s WAOK in Atlanta and Radio One’s WOL in DC, WOLB in Baltimore and WERE in Cleveland.

Journalist Michael Meyers, Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, actually began tabulating and analyzing radio stations’ managers’ responses to an employment survey of non-white talk show hosts in the Big Apple eight years ago. “The facts are that AM Talk radio stations all around the country have and continue to broadcast only whites,” asserted Meyers.

“The results of the survey surprised us,” he continued, “because of the stated and/or assumed emphasis on diversity in other media such as TV and newspapers. There are, for example, non-white journalists, columnists and editorial staff/ board members at every daily newspaper in New York; and there are non-white talk show hosts, anchors, and commentators on TV.”

Well, that was until the Tribune’s, McClatchy’s and News Corps’ started letting these individuals go as they attempt to weather bankruptcy, or write-downs of $21.7 million and $6.4 billion respectively.

Is it any wonder then that Meyers’ findings continue to fall on deaf ears? Flagrant discrimination based on race on the airwaves still exists even as America pats itself on the back for electing the nation’s first African American president.

Moreover, on-air diversity is actually receding, with many in the industry concluding that it doesn’t matter if the ring leader rocking the mic is of the same gender and race time and time again.

But others are now pointing to signs that terrestrial radio’s undisputed reign may be waning, especially in a fast-changing world full of rivals like iPods, satellite radio and the ever burgeoning Internet radio outlets such as Blogtalkradio.

Kevin Ross is noted Republican who hosts The Kevin Ross Show, a conservative political show on Blog Talk Radio and blogs at Three Brothers and a Sister. This post is part of a five part series exploring the lack of diversity in radio.

Kevin Ross: Talk Radio’s Segregated Airwaves

Dallas South is excited to welcome current blogger and former municipal judge Kevin Ross in for a guest blogging spot this week. The noted Republican hosts The Kevin Ross Show, a conservative political show on Blog Talk Radio and blogs at Three Brothers and a Sister.

I met Kevin at last year’s Blogging While Brown Conference, and while our political views often differ we’ve developed a pretty good working relationship. Kevin and I have appeared on NPR’s News and Notes together three times, including the day that it was announced that the show was canceled.

Many thanks to Boss Ross for sharing his opinion on African-Americans in radio with us this week. This is part one of a five-part, week-long series where Kevin details the plight of talk radio in Los Angeles which mirrors the reality all over the nation.

By Kevin Ross

On KRLA AM 870, a Salem Network talk station broadcasting from Glendale, the day kicks off with Bill Bennett, followed by Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Dennis Miller. Kevin James, perhaps best known for the intellectual beat down from host Chris Matthews when he appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball”, rounds out the evening.

Bill Bennett

Aside from the fact that each of these individuals is unabashedly conservative, they also have something else in common. All of them are men. White men!

Switch over to Southern California’s number one talk station, powerhouse KFI AM 640, and the Monday through Friday line-up is slightly more balanced. George Noury begins at midnight. Next up is Bill Handel’s morning drive, the political musings of Rush Limbaugh, followed by in-your-face, no-nonsense advice from Dr. Laura Schlesinger. John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou pick up the torch during afternoon drive before former MTV personality Kennedy and Brian Suits close it out.

Although all the personalities are Caucasian, two women – Dr. Laura and Kennedy – are prominently featured on the roster.

But travel across town to rival KABC AM 790 and it’s back to business as usual. The L.A. station that invented the all-talk radio format almost fifty years ago now has a white male weekday lead host in every one of its time slots. Up until last year, The Citadel owned outlet was home to nationally syndicated host Larry Elder.

Larry Elder

Known as the “Sage of South Central”, Elder’s conservative Libertarian opinions were espoused three and sometimes four hours a day on the station for 15 years. In fact KABC, which also owned KMPC AM 710 The Zone before it became Radio Disney and later ESPN, had at one point six black talk show hosts on two stations as part of its line-up in the late 90’s.

Elder was among them. He was not only the most successful, but also the most controversial for what many believed were “anti-black” views.

Today, only civil rights attorney Leo Terrell is on the air. His show relegated to Sunday afternoons.