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Buzz Off! It’s my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it!

As long as I can remember, we’ve always counted on our favorite radio station to keep us groovin’ and in-the-know with what’s goin’ on. Even in the internet age, lots of people still turn to radio for their daily dose of entertainment and information. For a lot of us, radio is the first thing we reach for after we turn on the car and buckle our seat belt. The radio is always there… in many of us the radio is more than an acquaintance it’s our friend and a primary source of news and viewpoints.

In many urban communities, the radio has the additional responsibility of providing a voice to the voiceless. We call in to the talk and public service shows and share our opinions, express outrage and listen to the hosts as they explain the pros and cons of the news that affects our community.  Urban radio not only talks to us, but engages us to become interactive. So for the life of me I can’t understand why an urban programmed station would not open up the phones lines and invite their listeners to engage in meaningful discussion at a time when those listeners desperately wanted to talk.

The response to the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder of Trayvon Martin has all of America talking, especially folks in Black communities. We want to vent, we need to share our frustrations, calm our fears and find comfort in like-minded people .  In America, the FFC states that radio stations are licensed to serve in the public’s interest, and in a time when radio listenership is eroding, that’s especially true for urban radio. If your listeners, your customers, want to talk, then it’s your responsibility to engage them with discussion. That’s serving in the public’s interest. A station’s obligation to its community should be a commitment to entertainment, information and education.  That goes beyond playing booty shakin’ music… all the time. Even in the current hyper constrained PPM influenced environment, where talk and non-music content is limited or produced and presented in tiny tasty morsels, we still have to make a connection with our listeners. Isn’t that what are radio stations are supposed to do? Making a meaningful connection with our listeners?

So, when is it in a station’s best interest to not do what its listeners want them to do? When a broadcast owner is willing to “cut off his nose to spite his face”; when it’s more important to him to keep the audience finger poppin’ and apathetic, rather than to inform and educate them. You know it’s bad when your owner will pass up revenue and or ratings to control the station’s narrative… or lack thereof.  That’s what happens when we don’t control the media and messages in our own communities. We get the message that the powers that be want us to receive, not necessarily the message that’s meant for our greater good.

Let’s face it, there’re many broadcast companies that benefit from our business while at the same time could care less about our well being. We have to be smarter about how we conduct our business. Tighten up your social media game; get out of your stations and get in the streets. Remember community outreach? Make friends and fans by visiting churches, schools, clubs and work places. Get closer to your listeners by making a difference in their lives; make them the advocates of your mission. Make your job meaningful to the community you serve. The stronger you are in your community the more power you and your station will have.

It’s time we break the chains that are holding us back.

I could be wrong but I doubt it!

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