February 23, 2012
In my column of July 2010 I asked “are the black radio and television stations today forward-thinking and positive? Black media outlets can provide valuable input and should be realistic, operational, inspirational, motivational, informative, and even emotional, and should be reassessed on a regular basis by the public that it serves.”
After an assessment I am regretful to say that nothing has changed. And the emergence and resurgence of hate radio and right-wing show hosts such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, who has tirelessly worked to undermine the accomplishments of the Obama administrations, will continue to play a crucial role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans.
As a result of the overwhelming media focus on crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior among African-Americans, right wing and mass media have fostered a distorted and malicious public perception of African-Americans and Black radio is doing nothing to correct these images.
The Bush administration plunged us into the worst economic crisis in the history of the United States yet the right wing’s flawed understandings of the Constitution and how its foundational values should be applied is relentless in their attacks on President Obama and the Black radio stations are sitting idly by and continue to amuse.
In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr wrote from the Birmingham Jail: I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” so how can Black radio stations continue to entertain and not be a voice for transformation?
The Right has perfected the habit of giving unto themselves the title of being the “only true patriots”. And having done so they embark on carrying out attacks on Black People and the president with an air of impunity from law and accepted norms of human rights, while we boogie and tell jokes.
Black people must agree to increase the pressure on hate radio mongers as well as our leaders, elected representatives, government officials and broadcasters to take clear stands on the issue of fairness and truth. Black radio station owners and personalities too needs to be told in no uncertain terms that it has to give up its growing weakness for good times and become a vehicle for positive change.
We need independent, full-service radio outlets, offering news and formats that incorporate thought-provoking talk and music programming, and recognize and address the needs of the communities and families they serve.
We need a nationwide outreach campaign, with leaders who are concerned about the truths that still influence life in Black America and understand that race has become an institutional part of American society.
We need announcers and talk show hosts that understand that we must find opportunities and provide for African-Americans in the areas of education, science, engineering, and the arts. The accomplishments of African-Americans should be at the forefront of popular culture in America’s battle for racial equality and our media outlets should reflect the history of African-Americans struggle against oppression and discrimination. The media have played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to our continuing status as second-class citizens, and it is time for a change.
We must make our media outlets accountable. We must strengthen diversity among the leadership of our community with meaningful programming, digital formats, news and information services, to reach millions of listeners around the country. It is not about having fun anymore. It is a matter of survival.
Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am and 4 pm on WGNU-920 AM, or live on the Web @ www.wgnu920am.com.
And please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am and Sunday Evenings at 5:30 pm on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.
I can be reached by fax at (314) 837-3369 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be Ever Wonderful!