Small Missouri radio station’s live stream from Ferguson goes viral

Ferguson goes viral

The images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri have left many riveted, but a small, volunteer-run radio station has been key in helping to make that happen.

The volatile scene that has unfolded since the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown has been broadcast online through a live stream by KARG Argus Radio, a small urban station based in Maplewood, Missouri, not far from Ferguson.  The station is quickly becoming the eyes and ears of what’s happening in Ferguson for tens of thousands of people.

KARG launched one year ago. Its video equipment was meant to live stream concerts, but they started to use it last week to cover the protests in Ferguson when there were concerns about the ability of other media outlets to do so.  One person operates the KARG camera alone on foot.  They’re able to maneuver around police roadblocks, getting ground-level footage that other TV stations and major cable networks haven’t been able to get.

The broadcast has been dubbed “I am Mike Brown Live from Ferguson, Missouri,” and KARG’s Mustafa Hussein says its because that is the sentiment of the community.  He vows KARG will keep broadcasting even if it’s at their own peril so that the truth can be seen and heard.

KARG’s camera was damaged during one of the protests.  They have been using a borrowed camera, and are looking for donations for a new one.

By Maureen Umeh, FOX 5 Reporter & Anchor -

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Efforts to launch first gospel radio station in Cypress underway

First gospel radio station in Cypress

A retired Christian Rap Artist, who is a local minister and U.S. Marine Corps veteran is working to launch the first urban gospel FM radio station in Cypress.

In February, the Federal Communications Commission granted Rhema Gospel Radio, Inc., a non-profit Christian Internet station, a construction permit to build a 100-watt low-power FM radio station in Cypress to be heard on frequency 101.5 FM. The call letters are KOER-LP.

Benard Russett aka S.O.G. (Servant of God), Cypress resident and president of Rhema Gospel Radio, Inc., says, “It is our sincere belief that we are in God’s will concerning this larger platform for Christian radio broadcasting. With over 11 years of broadcasting as an Internet-only radio station, we are closer to seeing this vision become a reality than ever before. We’ve come this far by faith, and our faith assures us that we will build our new FM radio station in the name of Christ Jesus. We’re grateful for our supporters.”

Rhema Gospel, formerly, signed on the air as an Internet-only radio station on June 2, 2003, based in Tomball.

Russett said, “ was born out of my heart’s desire to offer young Christians an alternative to secular radio stations and the type of music they play.”

Originally offering Christian rap, holy hip-hop, and R&P (rhythm & praise), changed its name to Rhema Gospel in July 2011 and its format to a wider variety of urban Christian music to reach a larger, more diverse audience.

Rhema Gospel Radio is accepting donations on its website,

For more information, visit

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Are reporters becoming too involved in Ferguson, Mo., coverage?

Ferguson media get into the story…

The line between news reporting and opinion is blurring in Ferguson, Missouri, as some national journalists inject their perspective and even themselves into the story.

The conduct of a few prominent members of the press on the ground at the site of the police shooting of Michael Brown has drawn the attention of media observers and prompted the wrath of conservatives who see an anti-law enforcement bias in the Fourth Estate.

On Monday night, CNN’s Jake Tapper blasted the authorities’ heavy-handed response to the demonstrations, which he deemed nonsensical. Wesley Lowery, the Washington Post reporter who was arrested last week along with Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, has called police conduct “militarized” and “aggressive.” Don Lemon, on the air for CNN, even offered personal assistance to the parents of Brown. “If any of you ever need anything, you know how to get in touch with me personally,” he told them during an interview.

“To me that was a line that was very clearly crossed,” said Amy Simons, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. “He had gone from being an independent journalist to clearly advocating and making it known which side of this issues he’s on at the moment.”

Lemon and Tapper both declined to be interviewed, CNN said.

Lowery has given several media interviews since his arrest and engaged in public battles with his detractors, including MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who suggested that Lowery should have been more compliant with the demands of law enforcement.

“I would invite Joe Scarborough to come down to Ferguson and get out of 30 Rock where he’s sitting sipping his Starbucks smugly,” Lowery told CNN last week.

Lowery did not respond to a request for an interview, but he has made his feelings known on Twitter. On Tuesday, he tweeted, “No journalist … should be getting arrested for doing their jobs.” Asked by one user if there was “a danger of putting journalists capricious arrests above other capricious arrests [of protesters],” Lowery replied: “No.”

Even in the age of digital media, where Twitter has allowed for excessive commenting on every news development, the injection of media narratives into the Ferguson story — MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had rocks thrown at him by protesters, Lemon was pushed around by a police officer, etc. — has drawn notice and, in some cases, criticism.

The loudest condemnations from conservatives: In a post for Hot Air on Tuesday, Noah Rothman argued that “the press is no longer serving as objective chroniclers of the proceedings.”

“In many ways, the media appears to believe that it is an active participant in the events in Missouri. What’s more, the press appears to be relishing this role,” Rothman wrote.

“During the cable news networks’ live broadcast of events in Ferguson last night, in which reporters filled the hours with increasingly frenetic prognoses about the worsening situation in Ferguson, it was impossible for the media to not become part of — if not central to — the story in Missouri,” he continued.

Matt Lewis, a blogger at The Daily Caller, agreed with Rothman and also wondered about the careerist motivations that might drive some journalists’ coverage.

“[I]f you were an overly-ambitious, and perhaps quixotic, young reporter or blogger,” he wrote, “wouldn’t it make sense to intentionally become part of this sort of story — especially if you thought the risk-reward ratio was favorable.”

To be sure, there are cases in which it is all but impossible for a journalist to avoid becoming part of the story.

Ryan Devereaux, a reporter for The Intercept, is one of several journalists whose arrest has garnered national attention. But as the site’s editor John Cook explained, Devereaux “wasn’t inserting himself into anything, or drawing attention to himself or anything else at the moment he was arrested.”

“He was trying to get back to his rental car so he could go to his hotel after a long night of covering unambiguously newsworthy civil unrest when members of a St. Louis County Police Department tactical team shot him in the back with what he believes to be a rubber bullet, handcuffed him, arrested him, and detained him overnight in county jail,” Cook said in an interview. “Any suggestion that his conduct was inappropriate, that he was to blame for the law enforcement assault on him, or that his very presence on the streets of Ferguson was somehow navel-gazing or self-involved is preposterous and false.”

“When you are on the scene, sometimes it’s kind of hard not to become part of the story,” said Sandy Davidson, a professor of communications and media law at the University of Missouri.

“When you have a photographer who is overcome with tear gas and then, of course, you have other journalists from CNN, who are there to record it, journalists are getting swept up in it, and journalists are a part of the story, I do believe, in part because it’s a story of journalists feeling unduly restricted to report on a matter of very public interest,” she added. “I compare it to Gaza; it is like a war scene.”

Reilly, the Huffington Post reporter, also noted that the media have a tendency to “protect [their] own,” which can result in disproportional coverage of journalists. Media personalities are also better known than the average citizen, and readers have the expectation that they can be trusted, he said.

“I definitely didn’t come down here planning on becoming a part of this story — I would have been much happier staying out of it. But that wasn’t really a choice I had, because I was locked up,” said Reilly. “As a reporter, you’re in the midst of it, and your presence is obviously going to have an impact.”

He added, “It’s tough to imagine how much worse the treatment must be for those who aren’t in the media, who don’t have that platform that we in the media do. Obviously, our story doesn’t compare to what other people have gone through.”


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Michael Erickson has succumbed to cancer

Gone to soon….

Press Release from Service Broadcasting:

Dallas, Texas (August 19, 2014)

Yesterday our organization, Service Broadcasting, the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Bay Area communities, and the radio world at-large lost one of our elite leaders, Michael Erickson. Michael was a proven winner whose passion for developing people and ideas was simply unmatched. Over the years, Michael transformed our business and made all of our team better broadcasters and better human beings, as he did with everyone he touched throughout his career. We will miss his boundless energy, laughter in the hallways and his endless insights about radio and life. As we endeavor to go forward, we are all so grateful for the moments we shared with Michael. He always gave freely of his time and knowledge to anyone ready to be enlightened, from interns to CEOs. To his credit, he was one of the best communicators and collaborators one could ever hope to work for and with. He was elegant at the art of execution and remained focused, engaged, and committed to every goal he set for himself until his last breath. Our hearts go out to the loved ones he has left behind, especially his dedicated wife Patti, daughter Katie and the entire Erickson family. Geo Cook quotes: “Michael was a great mentor, fierce competitor and compassionate friend. He made an impact on me personally and professionally that I cannot totally express in words. I will miss him and his presence dearly..”RADIO INTERVIEW OF THEN DJ, MICHAEL ERICKSON FROM THE 90′S ON KMEL:

Michael Erickson radio interview from KMEL in San Francisco from the 90′s

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Don Pardo, the Voice of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Dies at 96

Don Pardo, the Voice of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Dies at 96

Don Pardo, who literally introduced television viewers to some of America’s biggest stars and soon-to-be-stars as the longtime announcer for “Saturday Night Live,” died Monday in Tucson. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Dona Pardo.

Mr. Pardo, whose career began in the radio age, continued through the end of last season’s “SNL” in May, when he performed the introductions on the finale, hosted by Andy Samberg.

Mr. Pardo was with “SNL” from the show’s first episode in October 1975, and performed the introductions for 38 seasons, missing only Season 7. For many viewers, the names of scores of stars — from Chevy Chase to Eddie Murphy to Tina Fey — were first heard in his sonorous baritone, which announced the cast each week at the end of the opening skit.

“Every year the new cast couldn’t wait to hear their name said by him,” said Lorne Michaels, the show’s creator, who hired Mr. Pardo in 1975.

But for an older generation, Mr. Pardo was familiar long before Mr. Michaels started “Saturday Night Live.” He was the announcer for an assortment of widely watched game shows, including two of the most popular television has ever seen, “The Price Is Right” and “Jeopardy!

Don Pardo introduces the cast for last season’s final episode of “Saturday Night Live” on May 17.

While not many people knew his face, practically every American for a span of more than half a century knew his voice. And for the long line of budding stars who came out of “SNL,” that voice was validation. As Maya Rudolph told Mr. Pardo in a video tribute when he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2010, “The moment you said my name was the height of my career.”

Dominick George Pardo was born on Feb. 22, 1918, in Westfield, Mass. (It was George Washington’s birthday, the source of his middle name.) His father, also named Dominick, a bakery owner, and his mother, Viola, were immigrants from Poland. Mr. Pardo’s eventual first name was the result of a several-step process to distinguish himself from his father.

“They used to call me Nicky, and I didn’t like that,” he said in an oral historyhe recorded in 2006 for the Archive of American Television. “So when I got into radio, I took up Dom.” That, though, didn’t stick. “People would always say ‘Don,’ ” Mr. Pardo continued. “I said, the heck with it; I’ll be Don.”

Mr. Pardo had become interested in oratory and theater while a student at Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut, and in 1938, while living in Providence, R.I., he began working with local theater troupes, among them the 20th Century Players, which sometimes performed on WJAR, the NBCaffiliate in Providence. After about a year, the station manager there, impressed with Mr. Pardo’s voice, offered him a job as an announcer for $30 a week — a pay cut from his job at Brown & Sharpe, a machine tool manufacturer, but his new bride, Catherine Lyons, told him to take it anyway.

In 1944, he and a friend, Hal Simms, who would also become a top radio and TV announcer, made a fateful weekend trip to New York, visiting the NBC studios to watch some of their smooth-voiced heroes at work. When Mr. Pardo stopped by to thank Patrick J. Kelly, the supervisor of announcers, for arranging the tour, he ended up with a job offer. He started at NBC in New York on June 15, 1944.

“I was put on the night staff, naturally, 6 to signoff,” Mr. Pardo recalled. “Signoff was 2 a.m.”

Mr. Pardo in 1945. He began his career at NBC a year earlier, first as a radio announcer.CreditNBCUniversal

As a staff announcer, he did more than introduce shows and read commercials. The announcer also played the role of engineer, getting the radio programs going and cuing up the right bits at the right time. If you could not do those chores, he said, you would not last as a radio announcer.

But Mr. Pardo had joined the network just as NBC was experimenting with programming in a new medium, television, so he quickly found himself out of his radio comfort zone. One day in 1946, the boss came in and asked if he knew anything about baseball. He and another announcer wound up calling three televised baseball games.

Mr. Pardo called the games as a radio announcer would, following the maxim never to allow any dead air, which proved a poor mix with a medium in which viewers could see the action. In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he recalled that one reviewer dismissed his efforts with this phrase: “He doesn’t know the game, and he wouldn’t shut his mouth.”

Mr. Pardo found himself shuttling between radio and television, but the newer medium increasingly took up his time; he was assigned to a variety of programs, including “The Colgate Comedy Hour” and some early game shows. An assignment he received in 1956 proved to be a keeper: the original “Price Is Right,” hosted by Bill Cullen. The show’s popularity made his voice famous, and the occasional on-air mention by Mr. Cullen began to attach a name to that voice. (He even filled in for Mr. Cullen once. “I was terrified,” he recalled in the oral history.)

Mr. Pardo said the way “The Price Is Right” was shot led him to develop his peculiar elongated delivery. “The cameras are moving so slowly, and that’s the way I had to describe it: slowly,” he said of the merchandise on the show, which he would describe before contestants tried to guess its price. “Those cameras were large then. You want to make sure you describe what the camera is on.”

The show, based in New York, switched to ABC in 1963, but Mr. Pardo chose to stay with NBC. He was still a staff announcer, which meant he had other duties besides “The Price Is Right.” He was, for instance, the first to tell viewers of WNBC, the network’s flagship station, that President John F. Kennedy had been shot, breaking into a “Bachelor Father” episode to do it.

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Hip-hop station gives a voice to Ferguson

HOT 104.1 FM in St. Louis put the music on hold and opened up the phone lines after killing of unarmed Missouri teen…

ST. LOUIS – The phone calls started Saturday and have yet to slow down.

Following the death of 18-year-old Mike Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer, HOT 104.1 FM, a St. Louis-area hip-hop and R&B radio station, has turned into a platform for Ferguson residents to air their frustrations, grievances, and emotions amidst the national media feeding frenzy that has consumed their community.

For the personalities manning the phones and speaking into the microphone, it’s about giving a voice to a community that they feel is quickly losing that opportunity as images of tear gas, SWAT teams, and unrest are broadcast around the world. To them, those images and the events behind them are not telling the whole story of what is going on in St. Louis these days, and are distracting from the real issues at hand.

“Ferguson, call and tell us what we can do to get your neighborhood back,” DJ Boogie D said on the radio Thursday morning. “We are turning this radio station over to the people of Ferguson. The calls are flooding in.”

And they haven’t stopped.

“We stopped playing music on Saturday [when Mike Brown was killed,]” Boogie D, also the station’s operations manager, said in between segments. “This is not the first time we’ve allowed the radio station to stop, but this is an unprecedented stoppage.”

He rubbed his temples and wiped his eyes. Every few minutes he took another call, talked to the person on the other end, then turned to the computer screen to edit it down to a time he can broadcast. He started his show an hour earlier than normal on Thursday.

Boogie D gave time for those in the community to promote their efforts to do just that. One community member calls in and says there’s going to be a community barbeque at the Canfield Apartments, where Brown was killed, the following day.

The station has also brought in guests to talk on the radio, including Mike Brown’s first cousin, Missouri state Senator Jamilah Nasheed, and St. Louis native musician Nelly. The station also broadcast President Obama’s statement on Ferguson live on Thursday afternoon.

“It affects our lives as well,” said DJ Sir Thurl, who lives ten minutes from where most of the unrest has taken place. “You have to be involved.”

The switchboard lights lit up again.

“We live here,” Boogie D said. “We can’t just entertain and have fun.”

He opened a phone line.

“This is Hot 104.1.”

by    @RyanSchuessler1

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KCOH Radio and Houston Forward Times

A Powerful Combination That’s All About The Community

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that “our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

For decades, the Black media has been a consistent voice for Black America and continues to speak up about the things that matter all across this country, especially on Almeda Road in the historic Third Ward area of Houston, Texas, where two historic institutions have joined forces to make their voices even louder and more impactful in the Greater Houston area.

KCOH Radio, whose call letters have been said to stand for “City of Houston,” was acquired in 1953, defining it as the first Black-centered radio station in Texas, third in the nation and the second-oldest AM station in Houston to keep its original call letters. For 61 years, they have been a consistent voice about the things that matter in Houston.

In late 2012, the former owners of KCOH sold their 1430 AM signal to an investment group and when the station appeared to be gone forever, businessman Jesse Dunn was able to negotiate a lease purchase option with the ownership of KQUE 1230 AM as well as solidify a lease to occupy the building that housed the studios of KCOH. Doing this helped position Dunn to continue broadcasting under the KCOH radio brand name. With that deal, the KCOH call letters and programming moved to the ‘all-new’ KCOH, which debuted on 1230 AM in March 2013.

The Houston Forward Times newspaper is a weekly Black newspaper that is on historical record with the Texas State Historical Association as being one of the few Black newspapers in the country to print its own publication and is the largest Black-owned and independently published newspaper in the South. For 54 years, they have been a consistent voice about the things that matter in Houston.

The Houston Forward Times was first published in 1960 by its founder Julius Carter and was subsequently owned and operated by Lenora “Doll” Carter after her husband’s death in 1971. After the untimely death of her mother in 2010 and after nearly thirty years of being an integral part of the family business, Karen Carter Richards took over daily operations and immediately reinvented the Houston Forward Times into a multi-media company to ensure it remains the strongest and most trusted voice for African Americans in the city of Houston.

Between the two of them, KCOH Radio and the Houston Forward Times have a combined 115 years of delivering critical information to the African American community. Dunn and Carter Richards met with one another in June to talk about ways in which the two entities could work together. From that meeting, the common denominator between them and the thing that stood out as their primary focus was – community.

With the recent announcement of their new partnership, they both plan to take the delivery of information to the African American community to an entirely new level.

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with the Houston Forward Times,” said Dunn. “We recognize the Houston Forward Times as a strong community newspaper and we know the listeners of KCOH radio will benefit greatly because of the award-winning information they deliver to the listeners every month and through our partnership together as a whole.”

With this newly established partnership, KCOH and the Houston Forward Times have agreed to work collaboratively on many initiatives such as Let’s Talk Politics; the Black Dollar Project; voter awareness and education; hard-hitting issues; advertising disparities; and many other community-based initiatives.

“KCOH and the Houston Forward Times are right down the street from each other so it makes perfect sense for us to build a more solid partnership and work with each other,” said Carter Richards. “Establishing strategic partnerships with KCOH allows us to connect with the community on a much deeper level. Their listeners are our readers and our readers are their listeners. This specific partnership will help both parties get information straight to the community, strengthen our brands and increase our ability to generate revenue.”

There is no question that the historic and iconic attributes of KCOH and the Houston Forward Times are invaluable to the African American community, which is why both owners believe that having the ongoing support of the community and businesses helps preserve that history.

The broadening of the platform of KCOH to become more relevant by offering ongoing dialogue that addresses topics that are of deep concern to the African American community has been key to their current success. This has been accomplished through the various talk shows they have brought forth to ensure the community has a voice. The Houston Forward Times has also deepened their roots in the community by partnering with the community to offer a voice to the over sixty Civic clubs, homeowner associations and neighborhoods that participate at the Quarterly Community Partnership Exchange Breakfasts across the Greater Houston area.

If you look across the country, you see that many Black-owned and operated media outlets, particularly AM radio stations, have closed their doors or are facing financial challenges. In order to survive, many commercial Black-owned and operated radio stations have borrowed from the playbook of public radio stations by asking for donations and hosting fundraising events. Without increased and dedicated advertising from businesses and the community, embracing fresh and innovative approaches is what every media outlet must to do continue providing the quality product that the community expects on a daily basis. Radio stations like KCOH have reached out to the community to keep its voice not its relevancy.

Over the past two years, KCOH has fought extremely hard to reposition itself in the market. They have been able to position the station as the #1 Urban Radio Station on the AM dial and is continuously improving. As a part of this image change, Dunn has made some major improvements to the building; a building that Dunn says the station no longer leasers, but now proudly owns.

At the ‘all-new’ KCOH building, they offer more than the ‘looking-glass studio’ and a fresh coat of paint. Dunn has created an environment that offers more access to the community by use of its spacious KCOH Training Center and their upgraded technology. They have developed a stronger online presence through the KCOH Mobile App that can be downloaded by going to application store on any mobile device.

Dunn has also created an on-air initiative called ‘A Circle of Friends’ (Tuesdays from 9-10 a.m.) aimed at including business owners and community leaders, who are interesting in working together to keep the radio station economically stable. Dunn has also provided the Houston Forward Times with a monthly program, ‘Moving Forward with the Houston Forward Times’, which airs on the 3rd Sunday of every month from 2-3 pm.

The entire programming lineup includes: a fresh daily morning show called Show Biz and Company (5am-8am), hosted by Michael Mosley and Lady BG. The show offers listeners the music they grew up with, news, call-ins, sports, weather and traffic; Starting Point (8am-10 am) features hosts Paris Eley and Carmen Watkins as they take a very in depth look at current world and local topics; Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney (10am-11am) offers a hard-hitting and insightful look at local issues that affect our community; In The Mix (11am-Noon) offers a platform for small businesses to promote their products and services; The legendary Michael Harris brings you Person to Person (Noon-2pm) where he offers a voice to those who are interested in education and local government and its impact on the community; The award-winning music show Memories and More (2pm-5pm) with Don Sam offers a variety of music genres that includes various music genres such as Motown sounds, Zydeco and his uniquely-designed and celebrated ‘Friday Showdown’ every Friday; Sports legend Ralph Cooper brings you Sports Rap (5pm-7pm) where he offers listeners a call-in format for sports fans to express themselves and brings you fresh conversations with live interviews and panel discussions with various sports figures; Rhythm After Dark (7pm–Midnight) with Chris Tucker brings you into the night with music, interviews and much more; Larry Payne offers a weekly show called Interchange each Monday from 7pm-8pm; through his show he intellectually dissects local and state wide issues that affect our community; the weekend is hosted by various on-air personalities such as Les Holmes, Eric Robinson, Melanie Morris, Lascelles Hurd, Amber Shaw, Joseph Vaughns and many more contributors.

As we look at the current state of Black America, we see that if there ever was a need for African Americans to be educated, equipped and empowered – it is now.

These two institutions, KCOH and the Houston Forward Times, have been catalysts behind advancing the causes of African Americans in the Greater Houston area for a long time and have been critical assets in providing a much-needed forum for the community to discuss important community issues and the challenges they face. KCOH and the Houston Forward Times have always been on the side of right and on the side of justice, and as major community issues concerning African Americans rear their ugly head, these two institutions will continue to be on the frontlines in the Greater Houston area together.

In order for future generations of African American leaders in the Greater Houston area to become better equipped and have a sense of hope, they must be in tune with reading and receiving information that helps them better understand how to use their voice and power. That can only happen with the increased and continued support of these two storied institutions by the community as a whole.

Young people still have to learn their true history and not solely rely on blogs, social media and Internet web sites for facts and their information. The importance of these two important Black media institutions is still significant when it comes to spreading news by us, for us and about us.

If you currently aren’t, support KCOH Radio and the Houston Forward Times – today!


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Jay Dixon Named PD Of Hot 97/NYC

Jay Dixon Named PD Of Hot 97/NYC

Emmis New York keeps it in the family and promotes Jay Dixon into the PD chair at WQHT (Hot 97)/New York. Dixon has served as Interim PD of Hot 97 since Ebro Darden vacated the position back in March to focus on hosting Ebro in the Morning. “Jay’s extensive knowledge of radio broadcasting and ratings, as well as his familiarity with the Emmis brand, makes him the perfect fit for WQHT,” said Deon Levingston, GM of Emmis New York. “Over the past few months, Dixon has initiated innovative and creative ideas to the Hot 97 platform, further demonstrating his capabilities of leading and continuing to expand the global presence Hot 97 has in Hip Hop and music. We are thrilled to welcome him back to the Emmis family.”
Dixon began his radio career while still in high school, reporting for the legendary WILD/Boston. Over the course of his career, Dixon has worked in multiple formats and held various positions with Cox Media as OM/PD of  WBHK/Birmingham, AL and WALR/Atlanta. He also worked for Emmis New York at the former WRKS (98.7 Kiss FM), serving as both Production/Creative Services Director and PD during his tenure. “I’m excited to be back with Emmis and to continue my work with WQHT,” Dixon said. “I’d like to thank Rick CummingsJimmy Steal, Deon Levingston, Ebro Darden and the entire Emmis community for this opportunity. Look out of big things ahead for WQHT, Hip Hop, and New York!”

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The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style By Nelson George

Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style

 The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style


Excerpted from The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style by Nelson George. Published by © HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reprinted, reproduced, posted on another website or distributed by any means without the written permission of the publisher.


Chapter 1 Windy City


One of the problems during the period when we started Soul Train was the lack of opportunity for black talent on television. I’m talking the sixties and part of the seventies. It was a medium that didn’t feature minorities as much as it could have. And it was a medium that didn’t feature minorities in a positive way as opposed to a negative way … it bothered me personally and that’s kind of why I wanted to get a spot on television. So that maybe I could do something about presenting black people in particular in a positive way. —Don Cornelius , 2009

THE LANDSCAPE of black images on television and in film in the mid-1960s was pretty barren. I’m not sure anyone who came of age in the 1980s or beyond will ever understand how absent “negro” faces were once on television in America. There was no Winfrey network. No Steve Harvey talk show. No argumentative sportscasters like Stephen A. Smith. The news broadcasts were when a dark face could be seen protesting, or an angry Malcolm X or an inspiring Dr. King or a local civil rights activist being interviewed about “the negro problem.”

But as far as entertainment went, Sammy Davis Jr. was one of the few blacks who was a regular on network variety shows, largely because he was part of Frank Sinatra’s revered Rat Pack. An act from Berry Gordy’s Motown Records stable, like the Supremes, the Temptations, or the Four Tops, popped up on American Bandstand, Shindig, or other teen-appeal music shows singing “the sound of young America” and executing exquisite choreography. Crossover comic Bill Cosby costarred on the NBC series I Spy for several years in the mid-1960s, the foundation of his long successful TV career.

The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style

Nelson George

(HarperCollins; US: Mar 2014)

In September 1968 the lovely Diahann Carroll was made the lead in Julia, a half-hour NBC sitcom in which she portrayed a single mother and nurse. While its existence was groundbreaking, the show’s writing and plotting was bland. Moreover, during all of the show’s eighty-six episodes, the team behind Julia was as lily-white as the rest of America’s big three networks. At the time Julia was cautiously opening the network TV door, Donald Cortez Cornelius was already on his journey toward pop-culture immortality. Unlike a lot of prominent black figures who emerged in the civil rights years, Cornelius wasn’t a southern immigrant to the north, but a native son of one of America’s biggest cities. He was born on September 27, 1936, in Chicago’s Bronzeville, a densely packed, segregation-created black community on the city’s South Side. Two of the greatest works of postwar black literature were set on these same tough streets: Richard Wright’sNative Son (1940), which features a restless young man named Bigger Thomas whose life ended tragically, and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun(1959), which featured a restless young man named Walter Lee Younger who made mistakes in search of a better life for his family. Wright’s bestseller was draped in despair, while Hansberry saw a brighter future in the face of racism. Perhaps the difference between the two characters is the difference between America in 1940 and 1959.

Don was twenty-three years old in 1959 when Hansberry’s play first appeared. He must have shared its optimism and, thankfully, was way more Walter Lee than Bigger. He attended one of the city’s most important black high schools, DuSable (named after the black trader who founded Chicago), and after graduation he joined the Marine Corps and served in Korea for eighteen months. He married Delores Harrison in 1956 and quickly had two sons, Anthony and Raymond. His personal ambition can be seen in the jobs he worked prior to moving into media: he sold tires and automobiles, briefly was a policeman, and dabbled in insurance—a rapid journey from blue to white collar in the space of a few years.

He was tall and handsome, and it wasn’t long before that foghorn voice gave him the idea of doing radio. In 1966 he took a three-month radio course, and a year later he landed a job at Chicago’s WVON, one of the greatest of the rhythm and blues radio stations that were the backbone of black music and the communities they served.

These are the early biographical details of Don Cornelius, but we can’t introduce him without also discussing the quasi-mystical, midcentury quality popularly known as “cool.” Professor Robert Farris Thompson, a historian of West African culture, traces the concept of “cool” to Yoruba and Igbo civilizations. Thompson has argued that “The telling point is that the ‘mask’ of coolness is worn not only in times of stress, but also but in times of pleasure … I have come to term the attitude ‘an aesthetic of the cool’ in the sense of a deeply and completely motivated, consciously artistic interweaving of elements serious and pleasurable, of responsibility and play.”

Whatever its roots in Africa, among black Americans, “cool” signified a certain elegant restraint, a control of facial expression, posture, and gesture, that projected danger as well as grace. Behind this outer calm, rivers of deep emotion and passion might be felt, but the exterior projected a laid-back hardness that intimidated men and seduced women. Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis gave musical expression to this ethos with his exquisite suits, red sports car, and musical mastery. With the 1957 release of his album Birth of the Cool, he became the poster child for cool. Cool wasn’t limited to black folks. (White movie idol Steve McQueen definitely possessed the required chill.) Nor could every black person achieve it. For many black big-city brothers, cool was an elusive prize. In their strident attempts to achieve cool, many became self-conscious parodies of the persona. Trying too hard to be cool was not cool. Cool was a way of being, not a goal to achieve. You were cool when others perceived you as such. It was not something you could declare yourself. Truly cool people are anointed by those around them and baptized by the appreciation of others.

Don remembered overhearing two girls in high school talking: “‘You know, Don Cornelius thinks he’s cool, doesn’t he?’ And the other girl said, ‘No, honey. He is cool.’ That’s just something, for whatever it’s worth and for whatever it means, that’s something that’s just born in me.”

In the Chicago of his young manhood, cool was a currency that drew people to you, garnered respect, and made upward mobility easier. Cornelius’s cool would help him impress authority figures, whether they were advertising executives, radio station personnel, or record-business gatekeepers. Cool was the intangible element in Don’s rise that would be much commented on in later years but, in this early part of his career, it was the unspoken element that gave others confidence in him.

Now, to understand the heritage of WVON and why it was such a crucial stop in Cornelius’s journey, we have to go back to the post– World War II period when, for the first time, black radio announcers with ethnic voices began appearing on the nation’s airwaves. Black announcers had been on the radio before the war, but usually they’d been instructed to lose any black accent and cleanse their vocabulary of slang.

Arthur Bernard Leaner, aka Al Benson, a onetime vaudeville performer and sometime storefront preacher from Jackson, Mississippi, would break the mold and, in a number of ways, set the stage for Soul Train. At the time, there were no stations dedicated to serving black listeners in the Chicago market. (In 1947, Memphis’s WDIA became the first “negro”-oriented station; in 1949 the first to be black owned, WERD, opened in Atlanta.)

When Arthur debuted in Chicago radio in 1945, he hosted a fifteen-minute Sunday-night show during which he preached the gospel while a choir sang in the background. He’d expected to get underwriting from local advertisers, but a dispute with station management led Arthur to revamp his persona. Out went the preaching and the choir. In its place he became Al Benson, “the Ole Swingmaster,” and he began playing blues, swing, and the emerging style of dance music eventually labeled rhythm and blues. By 1947 he was broadcasting twenty hours a week on two different stations and garnering advertising support from businesses around the city.

By 1948 the Chicago Tribune had declared Benson the most popular disc jockey in Chicago, white or black. Key to Benson’s popularity was what he called “native talk,” meaning that on the air he spoke with a southern black accent, used current slang, and referred to the struggles black immigrants from the South were confronting in the Windy City. By playing electrified urban blues or rhythm and blues, sounds then being released exclusively by independent labels like Chicago’s Chess, Benson established a template for how black DJs could compete with their white counterparts and, eventually, for the sound and style of black radio that continued into the soul era and endures today in hip-hop radio.

With radio as his power base, Benson staged shows at the Regal Theater, Chicago’s answer to New York’s Apollo, and he started his own record label, Parrot Records. In 1951, a year before the debut of American Bandstand, Benson hosted his own variety show on a local station, making him the first black DJ in Chicago to do so (perhaps the first in the country). So Don Cornelius grew up with Al Benson as a huge, innovative figure in his world.

Benson’s business acumen was very much in keeping with the energy of black Chicago, which, more than any other American metropolis, was home to some of the most important black businesses of the postwar era. John H. Sengstacke’s weekly Chicago Defender was a force championing civil rights and the integration of the armed forces and encouraging southern blacks to move North. John Johnson founded Ebony, a monthly black version of Life magazine, in 1945 and followed up with the pocket-size Jet in 1951, both of which remain staples in black households. Black hair-care companies based in the city prospered as well, with Fred Luster’s Luster Products, founded in 1957, and George Johnson’s Johnson Products, started in 1954, both generating millions in profits and thousands of jobs in factories and beauty salons nationwide. And Chicagoan S. B. Fuller was one of the slickest black businessmen ever. He started selling products for a white company—soap and deodorant—door to door to South Side blacks in the 1920s. By 1939 he’d made enough money to open his own factory, and almost ten years later Fuller purchased the company of his white distributor (while wisely keeping his black identity secret). During the 1950s Fuller was likely the richest black man in America.

It was in this context that WVON, which arrived on air in 1963, made an immediate impact by serving as an outlet for black entrepreneurs to advertise products to a growing consumer market using an on-air delivery and music that Benson pioneered. The station was owned by Leonard and Phil Chess, two Polish brothers who ran Chess and Checker Records, home of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, and countless other legends. While WVON’s location at the far end of the AM dial and tiny 250-watt signal meant it couldn’t be heard all over the city, the station still squarely hit its target—the city’s densely packed black neighborhoods in South and West Side Chicago.

Though the radio scene had changed considerably since Al Benson’s heyday, his stamp was still felt at WVON. He had sponsored contests for prospective DJs around the city and gave them airtime, inaugurating many of their careers, including those of Sid McCoy (who’d later be the voice of Soul Train) and Herb “the Cool Gent” Kent.

By the time Cornelius reached WVON in 1966, Benson was no longer a force, although he thrived through the voices of on-air personalities Kent, Pervis “the Blues Man” Spann, Wesley South, and news director Roy Wood, who guided the station’s civil rights coverage. WVON’s playlist was filled with music made in the city itself. Blues stars like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were starting to lose their hold on black listeners, but an exciting generation of local soul singers led by singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield and including Jerry Butler, the Impressions, Gene Chandler, Fontella Bass, and Tyrone Davis were starting to deliver consistent hits and strong ratings.

Given the station’s pedigree and power, it’s not surprising that Don never landed a regular on-air slot playing music. Instead he was given the job of news reader and street reporter during one of the most tumultuous periods in Chicago history. In January 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. relocated to a Chicago housing project to dramatize the de facto segregation in real estate practices in the “liberal” North. King would face resistance from political boss Mayor Richard Daley, be confounded by nefarious dealings with black elected officials who were puppets of the local Democratic machine, and endure brutal harassment from Chicago’s white residents during public marches. A photograph from this period shows a young Don with microphone in hand, covering the civil rights movement for WVON, walking down a Chicago street with King.

Don also covered the riots in the wake of King’s assassination in April 4, 1968, and the violent events of that June’s Democratic Convention that left demonstrators bloody in the city’s streets. The Black Panthers organized successfully in Chicago under the leadership of Fred Hampton, who was then murdered in a one-sided shoot-out with the city’s police, another story Cornelius and WVON reported.

During this intense period in Chicago’s history, Cornelius made his television debut, hosting a show on local UHF station WCIU called A Black View of the News, just one of scores of public-interest shows that were popping up around the country in response to the civil rights movement. Most had names as on the nose as the one Cornelius hosted, names that unintentionally suggested that “the black view” remained not merely segregated but exotic, even foreign, to the American mainstream.

Today the UHF broadcast band is used primarily for mobile phones and two-way radio. But in the 1960s UHF stations, which broadcast on a higher frequency than the standard VHF stations of commercial TV, were an alternative viewing experience. The signals had limited coverage and performed as a precursor to public-access TV years before cable’s introduction. And this relationship with WCIU, initially based on Cornelius’s news experience, led to the birth of Soul Train. The idea of doing a dance show was far from original. Aside from Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, which aired nationally on ABC, there were local dance shows all around the country that catered to teenagers and, to varying degrees, included black singers and dancers. Almost none of the shows I’m aware of from the period placed soul, or “black music,” so front and center: most of them used teen appeal to keep local advertisers and TV programmers comfortable. Don’s genius was seeing that the time was right for a more explicitly “soul”—that is, black—show.

Nelson George is an author and filmmaker who specializes in documenting and celebrating African American culture. He has written several classic black music histories, includingWhere Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound, The Death of Rhythm & Blues, and Hip Hop America. He also coedited The James Brown Reader: 50 Years of Writing About the Godfather of Soul. His most recent novel is The Plot Against Hip Hop. He has also contributed major articles on the films The Help, Pariah, and12 Years a Slave to the New York Times. George directed the HBO film Life Support as well as the VH1 documentaryFinding the Funk.

By: Mike Love   -  In: Review   -  0   Comments

Westwood One Pacts With NextRadio

Westwood One Pacts With NextRadio

By Al Peterson

Cumulus Media-owned Westwood One has announced an agreement with NextRadio that will enable all U.S. radio stations to use advertising inventory to fund the industry’s payments to Sprint. Over the past year, broadcasters have been asked to commit dollars and/or inventory to fund the Sprint NextRadio Initiative, which plans to sell at least 30 million FM receiver-enabled smartphones in the next three years. Broadcasters can now meet their commitment by providing two minutes per station per day (Mon-Sun/ 6am-midnight) that Westwood One will sell on NextRadio’s behalf to pay the proceeds to Sprint. “We are confident that NextRadio is a game-changer for the radio industry and will reignite growth,” said Jeff Smulyan, Chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications – and the driving force behind NextRadio. “The addition of Westwood One to focus on the sales effort will allow companies to use ROS inventory to fulfill their pledges instead of writing checks. This gives every company an option.”


By: Mike Love   -  In: Radio News   -  0   Comments

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