Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Minority Radio Ownership at a Standstill

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Sunday, November 1, 2009
Chicago News Coop Pledges Staff, Board Diversity

Affirmative Action Setbacks, 1996 Law Continue Toll

In the last two years, the number of commercial radio stations grew from 10,506 to 11,249.

But minority radio ownership has remained virtually flat over that time. A report released Monday found that 815 of those stations, or 7.24 percent, were minority-owned. A similar study in 2007 put the figure at 7.76 percent.

The late singer Celia Cruz, popular on Spanish-language broadcasts, got her start on Cuban radio.The minority population of the United States is approximately 32 percent.

The study was conducted by Catherine Sandoval, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, partnering with Allen Hammond, also of the law school, and David Honig of the Washington-based Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which lobbies for minority broadcast ownership.

The study was undertaken to make recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission.

It urged the FCC to take the new figures into account when it reviews ownership rules next year. It wanted the agency to recognize that most owners of color obtained their stations before the Supreme Court restricted the FCC's ability to take race into account in awarding licenses and construction permits, and before the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which abolished limits on ownership of broadcast stations, squeezing out many smaller broadcasters.

The report noted that "74.7% of all minority-owned stations broadcasting programming air minority-oriented programming. This pattern refutes Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's assertion in Metro Broadcasting v. FCC (1990 . . .) that the proposition that minority ownership contributes to diversity is based on stereotypes. The correlation between minority radio ownership and diversity in program service is robust.

"The FCC should recognize minority broadcasters' contributions to our nation's democratic dialogue and analyze how its media ownership rules can ensure that minority broadcasters and the communities they serve thrive in the twenty-first century," it said.

Spanish was found to be the most popular format among minority commercial radio owners, airing on 291 or 35.7 percent of the 815 minority-owned radio stations.

Urban, African American targeted formats were broadcast on 135 minority-owned commercial stations. Six broadcast an 'Urban News/Talk' format, airing a News/Talk format addressing African American community concerns, the study said.

"Nine companies controlled by Native Americans and five Native American tribal governments operate commercial radio stations programmed in a 'General market' format, primarily Country," it continued, adding that "Programming in Country also makes these stations eligible for local, national, and regional buys targeted at Country audiences, a large market since it is the nation's second most popular format and was for decades the nation's number one radio format."

"The study found that 324 different minority owners control the 815 full-power stations, with 139 of those Hispanic and 129 African American. Sixty-one percent of those owners own a single station," RadioInk noted on Monday.

The FCC is holding three workshops this week as it begins a congressionally mandated quadrennial review of media-ownership rules. At the first session on Monday, Michael Copps was the only FCC commissioner in attendance, John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reported.

Copps said media consolidation was likely going to continue as soon as the economy picked up, Eggerton reported.

"Copps said that there was less diversity, competition, and localism because the 'tsunami of consolidation' had eroded the underpinnings of all three, thanks in part of sloppy FCC oversight."

Despite the benefits of minority ownership cited in Sandoval's report, many critics maintain that black-owned and Spanish-owned stations can also be negative influences, citing their cutbacks of news and public affairs programming and for some, a lack of social responsibility.

'We cannot count on the owners of commercial radio, Black or White, to do the right thing by the community,' Bruce Dixon, managing editor at, told the Final Call in May. 'I don't see how we can stop the bleeding in Black radio, because owners don't acknowledge our people-hood. They only see us as a vessel to sell something to.'

Losing Job's Bad Enough, Then He's Booted Off Plane

Dominic Carter's "Inside City Hall" was highly rated."Dominic Carter was booted off a Delta Air Lines flight on Saturday after a scuffle with a flight attendant, capping off a disastrous week for the embattled TV newsman," Alison Gendar, Kevin Deutsch and Christina Boyle wrote Sunday in the New York Daily News.

"The NY1 political anchor was escorted from the Kansas City-bound plane by cops shortly before it was scheduled to leave LaGuardia Airport.

"No charges were filed and cops later accused a Delta crew member of sparking the altercation.

"Carter and his wife, Marilyn, were rebooked on a later flight and arrived without incident in Kansas City.

"'The airline apologized to me,' Carter told The News Saturday night.

"The 45-year-old Carter . . . appeared in court last week to face domestic violence charges. He lost his NY1 job after it emerged he asked a judge to hush up the wife-beating charge, fearing it would ruin his career.

"Carter refused to say why he was jetting to Kansas City, although a relative said the couple wanted to 'get away.'

"Sources said Carter boarded the jet and walked down the aisle to use the bathroom before liftoff. As he bent over to tie his shoes he [accidentally] bumped into a flight attendant, who became enraged and said: 'This man deliberately slammed into me, I want him off the plane!'

"Three police officers were called to the plane, and Carter cooperated and voluntarily left with them."

Meanwhile, the New York Association of Black Journalists issued a statement Monday noting "there are only four African American journalists that cover politics on a regular basis and now; none are on TV." It said of Carter, "While we do not have enough information to take a formal position on the allegations, we hope that his departure from the airwaves does not become a pretext for the continued scarcity of high-profile minorities in New York broadcast media's political coverage."

"Inside City Hall," which was hosted by Carter, "is a highly rated political show watched by New York City political power brokers," said the statement, signed by vice presidents Katherine McKenzie and Zachary R. Dowdy.

"In a City with a majority minority population, with an active and mature Black political population Where an African American was pitted against a wealthy white male incumbent" for mayor, "it was abundantly clear that having minority voices reporting politics provides important insight and nuances that are a critical component for competent journalistic coverage. It should also be noted; the current economic crisis in the New York market has diminished the number of working journalists of color (especially veteran journalists) to unacceptable levels."

Memphis' Otis Sanford Heads AP Managing Editors

Otis L. Sanford"Otis L. Sanford, editor of opinion and editorials for The Commercial Appeal, is being named president of the Associated Press Managing Editors at the association's annual training conference, which began Wednesday and wraps up today in St. Louis," Roland Klose reported Friday in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

"APME was formed 76 years ago to monitor the services of The Associated Press. Among its various initiatives, APME provides training programs for member newspapers. It has tackled a variety of First Amendment and industry issues, ranging from obtaining sports credentials to dealing with anonymous online comments.

"As APME president, Sanford says he will build on the organization's signature newsroom training efforts and journalism credibility research, adopt new reporting projects, and pursue strategies to advance newsroom leadership development.

"And he plans to be a voice for the industry, making the case for newspapers and for journalism."

Sanford, who joined the APME leadership ladder in 2007, is the third African American editor to head the organization in its 76 years. The others were the late Robert McGruder, who became its first black president in 1995 as managing editor of the Detroit Free Press, and Caesar Andrews, then editor of Gannett News Service, who was elected to the post in 2002.

Sanford told Journal-isms he would "continue to place major emphasis on diversity issues particularly as they relate to getting more people of color involved in our internet and digital operations and in media management."

Closing of Japanese-American Paper Is End of Era

"Jon FunabikiThe recent closure of two bilingual Japanese-American newspapers reflects not only demographic shifts in the community, but also a time of reinvention for newspapers serving the Japanese-American community, according to ethnic media experts," Ngoc Nguyen, wrote Monday for New America Media.

"With its last issue on October 30, the Hokubei Mainichi became the second bilingual Japanese-American newspaper in Northern California to shut down in the last two months. Its competitor, the Nichi Bei Times, folded in September.

"In a statement published in the newspaper and on its Web site earlier in the week, Hokubei publisher and CEO Don Yamate said the newspaper will halt publication because of economic hardships. In another statement in its final issue, however, Yamate said the newspaper’s publication has been 'suspended' and will resume 'using a different format and publishing frequency,' and urged subscribers to continue their support.

"The closure of Hokubei Mainichi and Nichi Bei Times signals the end of an era, as the bilingual newspapers served to unify a 'distinct' and 'unique' generation of Japanese immigrants, according to Jon Funabiki, director of the Renaissance Journalism Center at San Francisco State University.

“'They are the remnants of the initial pioneering Japanese-American community that came at the turn of the century in the 1900’s,' said Funabiki. The immigrants bonded together at a time when anti-Asian immigration laws limited their numbers.

“'Contrast the Japanese-American population to the Mexican-American population,' Funabiki said, 'where there is ongoing immigration from Mexico to the United States that has caused a constant replenishment of the community, constant growth in the size of community, constant re-energizing of the culture and history of the community.'

“'[Young people] have many more interests. They are less bound to the newspaper and more accepting of other kinds of cultures and experiences,' he said. They want to experiment and have a much more globalized world view.'”

Columnists Debate Turns to Limits of Invective

Emerge magazine's November 1996 cover."Fox News Sunday" provided conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh a forum Sunday to denounce nearly every aspect of Barack Obama's presidency, but Limbaugh also prompted two African American columnists to engage in some friendly public sparring.

In the Washington Examiner on Thursday, Gregory Kane took to task George E. Curry and others who applauded the decision of potential owners of the NFL's St. Louis Rams to exclude Limbaugh from their partnership. The critics cited racially inflammatory statements attributed to the talk-show host. "But," Kane wrote, "have their standards about racist owners, racist comments and racist actions always been so high? I think not." 

For his part, Curry wrote in his syndicated column Sunday that Kane mischaracterized the covers on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that Curry produced as editor of the late Emerge magazine. One showed Thomas as a lawn jockey; the other depicted him with a handkerchief on his head "tied in an Aunt Jemima knot, to be specific," Curry wrote.

Curry called his fellow columnist confused about whether Kane supported Thomas, and defended his own Emerge covers. "By then, everyone except you and a few others of your ilk had realized that Clarence Thomas has been a disaster for people of color," Curry said of the 1993 handkerchief-head image.

Kane wrote back privately, "That was good stuff, George." He told Journal-isms that Curry would be speaking with his opinion writing class at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday.

"Black folks need to abandon the language of racial invective we hurl at each other," Kane continued. "That means terms like 'Uncle Tom,' 'Sambo,' 'handkerchiefhead,' 'house Negro' and 'house nigger' have to go. To me, they're every bit as offensive, if not more so, than the clearly racist things Limbaugh has said in the past. In George's piece he mentioned my mistake about the covers, that one was of Thomas as a lawn jockey instead of him shining Scalia's shoes. So that's BETTER? No, actually, it isn't." The reference is to Supreme Court Justice John Scalia.

"You, I and George are all old enough to remember how Muhammad Ali cruelly used this 'Uncle Tom' business against Joe Frazier. Whatever else Joe Frazier is or is not — and I think we can all agree he is one totally bad ass fighter, as Ali discovered through 41 grueling, punishing rounds — he is NOT an Uncle Tom. But the label stuck once Ali pinned it on him. Now if Joe had to carry that burden alone, it would have been bad enough. But his kids had to carry it as well. It is the case of Joe Frazier, more than anything, that makes me determined to bury the language of racial invective once and for all."

Chicago News Coop Pledges Staff, Board Diversity

Jim O'Shea, the former Chicago Tribune managing editor who last week announced the Chicago News Cooperative, a startup committed to providing "high quality, professionally edited news and commentary to the Chicago region on the Web, in print and over the airwaves," says he intends to have a diverse staff and board of directors.

O'Shea was taken to task Monday in a column by Laura S. Washington in the Chicago Sun-Times, who quoted "my brave friend Andrew Patner, the arts and culture critic and WFMT host.

"'So the all-white, all but one-male Chicago Tribune alumni club will start a "news and commentary service" to be overseen by an all-white, largely suburban board,' Patner wrote on his blog, The View From Here," Washington wrote.

Patner "nailed it," she said.

O'Shea told Journal-isms that "we are talking to diversity candidates for our board and for our own staff" and that his operation had "not been able to organize our own staff before we got going" because it had made a commitment to start providing pages of local news for a Chicago edition of the New York Times by Nov. 20.

The board comprises six people and will grow, and only four are on the paid staff, including himself, he said. O'Shea envisioned eventually having 20 to 25 staffers. "I am interviewing a candidate as we speak who will bring to us some diversity," he said.

Short Takes

  • MSNBC's Contessa Brewer, who two weeks ago introduced the Rev. Jesse Jackson as the Rev. Al Sharpton, plans to have dinner with Jackson to help smooth things over, Brewer told Journal-isms on Monday. MSNBC attributed the gaffe to "an unfortunate writing error." Brewer and Jackson were not in the same studio. "It's on the agenda," Brewer said of the meal. "He's been great, so kind and gracious."
  • "The death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah ‚Äî the Muslim leader shot dead Wednesday by FBI agents after he allegedly first opened fire ‚Äî was mourned and criticized today by some African-American Muslims in metro Detroit and across the U.S.," Niraj Warikoo wrote¬†Thursday for the Detroit Free Press. "And religious experts say his death was the first time the U.S. government has killed a religious leader since the 1993 death of David Koresh at the Branch Davidian ranch in Waco, Texas." The first Associated Press stories did not note that Abdullah was African American, but the incident prompted a story by AP race relations reporter Jesse Washington, "Blacks still drawn to Islam despite FBI raids."
  • "Just one week ago, Charles Pugh was poised to become not only Detroit's first openly gay elected official, but its city council president when voters here go to the polls Tuesday," Steven Gray wrote¬†Monday for Time. "But the flashy former television reporter has an unpleasant new distinction: Pugh recently acknowledged that his three-story home near downtown Detroit has been foreclosed, raising serious questions about his business acumen at a time when this city is on the brink of financial collapse."
  • Kathy Y. TimesIn an interview with Editorial Director David Hampton of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, Kathy Y. Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and an anchor at Jackson's WDBD-TV, has this advice for young journalists: "Don't let the state of the business scare you. Media companies are hiring young talent, but the competition is stiff. Master technology that is driving radical changes in storytelling. You must be a strong writer! Join NABJ and cultivate relationships with trailblazers. Be prepared, passionate and persistent. Carve out a niche early. Journalists don't make much money early in their careers. Learn a trade that can supplement your income. Master a foreign language. Spend some time abroad covering another nation. Every good journalist has a story to sell!"
  • The American Society of News Editors Monday joined others who have protested the decision by the Cook County, Ill., State‚Äôs Attorney‚Äôs Office to subpoena records relating to investigations made by journalism students at Northwestern University. The students' work was used by the Medill Innocence Project to assert the innocence of Anthony McKinney in a murder committed more than 30 years ago. "These subpoenas are a wide-ranging, unfounded sweep for information that we believe violates the Illinois reporter‚Äôs privilege statute and threatens key tenets of journalism and justice in this case, ASNE President Martin Kaiser wrote.
  • "Debt-burdened Freedom Communications is shutting the doors of the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., after no buyers placed acceptable bids to purchase the paper. Freedom is closing both the print and online editions at the end of the year," Editor & Publisher reported on Monday.
  • Journalist and talk-show host Robert "Rob" Redding Jr., who already operates the Redding News Review site, on Monday launched Black, the only Web site dedicated to covering the black talk media industry, he said. "The site covers nearly 30 Black Talk formatted radio stations, with its media directory; hundreds of TV and radio talk show hosts with its pair of media Talented 10 lists; and black talk media industry events with its front page section." Redding says he started the Web site because more than 20 percent of people who listen to talk radio are black and "Black talkers and their listeners are the most neglected in talk radio today."
  • In its 14 telecasts so far, CNN's "Latino in America" has reached 22.5 million viewers, CNN spokeswoman Jennifer Dargan told Journal-isms on Friday. The first showing of "The Garcias," reached 293,000 people in the key 25-54 age group; the second, "Chasing the Dream," shown the next night, reached 229,000 in that demographic.
  • On Public Radio International's "The World," Phillip Martin told the story¬†Friday of Sandra Laing, who grew up in South Africa in the 1960s and ‚Äô70s as the black daughter of white Afrikaners. "Skin: a youth under apartheid" is part of Martin's "Color Initiative" series and can be heard in an MP3 file on the Web site.
  • "For as long as most of us can remember, beat writers at the Denver Post have been allowed to make game predictions about teams they cover ‚Äî but no more, because of a decision by the paper's editor, Greg Moore," Michael Roberts wrote Monday for Westword, the Denver alternative newspaper.¬† "It is an ethical move. Sports writers are no different than other news-beat reporters. We would not have political reporters picking sides in a political contest," Moore told Westword by e-mail.
  • "On Thursday evening, on live TV, longtime WNBC-4 news anchor Sue Simmons made a somewhat surprising confession. Back in the '80s, she said, she would on occasion drink cocktails before anchoring the news. Eventually she stopped, she continued to explain, because she noticed the alcohol was making her eyes red," Felix Gillette reported¬†Monday in the New York Observer. "The admission came during an interview on WNBC-4's new 5 p.m. show LX New York, on which Ms. Simmons was making a guest appearance alongside Bravo executive-turned-night-show host Andy Cohen."
  • Harvard students will become the latest to be able to watch ‚ÄúThe Wire,‚Äù the critically acclaimed HBO series about the seamier side of West Baltimore,¬†for class credit next year, Stephanie B. Garlock reported¬†Friday for the Harvard Crimson. ‚Äú‚ÄòThe Wire‚Äô has done more to enhance our understanding of the systemic urban inequality that constrains the lives of the poor than any published study,' Sociology Professor William J. Wilson said. African American studies chair Professor Evelyn B. Higginbotham said that there would be a new course in which Wilson will use 'The Wire' as a case study for poverty in America."

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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minority radio ownership at a stand still, but is it really?

black radio? urban radio? whatever term u use wont matter when the owners of it only think profit first, then when they bleed they cry "we are black like u, so u must help keep us afloat!"

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