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The Future of Black Radio Advanced Radio Production Professor Reginald Franklin Tony Jordan Summer 2012

The Future of Black Radio

Abstract Although radio stations depend on advertisements to remain stable, African American radio personalities like Rudy Rush, George Willborn, Steve Harvey, Dede McGuire, Doug Banks, and Tom Joyner, who is defined as the Godfather of syndicated radio, have implemented humor, storytelling, original game show ideas, and politics into their live radio broadcast. These are important components to the future of African American radio because the structure of the shows does not have to rely solely on advertisement for revenue. For instance, African American radio personality Shirley Strawberry, of the Steve Harvey Show, has the strawberry letter. The strawberry letter is when a listener writes the show about a personal issue, and seeks advice from the cast. Also, African American syndicated shows utilize celebrity interviewing, comedy skits, and other popular additions like Nephew Tommy’s Prank Calls, to attract listeners and compete as radio industry powerhouses without the threat of being discontinued as a result of decreased revenue through lack of advertisement.

The Future of Black Radio The History Mass media is the world’s informant. Currently, media entities such as Sirius XM Radio and Cumulus Clear Channel, employ and engage audiences of all cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities. In regards to African American radio personalities, the market prevailed from Washington, DC’s WINX radio station owner swearing to Hal Jackson in the 1930’s, who is the forefather of black radio, that no nigger would ever grace the presence of his radio station, to the prominent rise of African American radio personalities like Michael Baisden, MC Lyte, Tavis Smiley, and Hip-hop’s king of radio, Fatman Scoop. With the nation’s history of segregation, African American pioneers like Jack L. Cooper, who was the first African American voice on the radio, and Hal Jackson, who became employed at WINX one week following the owner’s racially charged prediction, had become the primary voice for WINX in the 1930’s. Hal Jackson continued his succession in the world of radio, by becoming the first African American to host his own show on WABC, and brokered an unprecedented deal with Percy Sutton Broadcasting, to become the first black owner of a highly competitive AM/FM combined radio station in the 1970’s. “Over the years, Jackson was a music host, a talk show host, a sportscaster, a TV host, a live show emcee, and a historian of black music and radio. What really mattered to him were the people he touched and the ability to pass on the business and personal lessons he learned.” (Hinckley, 2012).

The Future of Black Radio Because of the racial barriers broken by African American radio pioneers like Jack Cooper, Hal Jackson, and Al-Benson, the foundation for African Americans to thrive in the arena of radio is poised for unlimited potential and success. For instance, in 1928, Jack L. Cooper was the most famous voice entering homes in Chicago, while streaming live from radio station WSBC. Mr. Cooper was also the first radio personality to play music on the radio on his phonograph. “There has been debate about weather he or Al Jarvis, in California started playing records first. It was almost simultaneous. He was the first to start it here in Chicago.” (Walton, 2007). Jack L. Cooper’s reign over the Chicago air waves lasted from 1929 to 1961. The Future The 20th and 21st Century African American radio personality has been, and continues to be the informant for African American culture since Jack Cooper implemented music with talk radio. Forefathers of black radio such as Hal Jackson and Dewey Hughes set the standard for present and future prominent African American radio dignitaries like Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley, Tom Joyner, Wendy Williams, Jamie Foxx, and Big Tigger. These pioneers envisioned the need for...
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