Do Black Radio Personalities Speak For You?


Earlier this month, Don Lemon hosted a discussion on CNN posing the question “are today’s black radio personalities black america’s new civil rights leaders?” He went on to explore with his guests, April Ryan, Bev Smith and Warren Ballentine, whether or not they spoke for or represented the voice of the “people”….black people. While no one actually claimed the titled of civil rights leader they did agree that it is through their broadcast that the issues most pertinent to black people get discussed, exposed and dealt with.

It’s certainly true that black radio personalities very often cover topics not necessarily addressed in the mainstream media. Its also very true that back in the day, black radio was a powerful force during the civil rights movement to mobilize the black community around common goals. Even still, I couldn’t help but scratch my head at the mere allusion to black radio personalities being the “voice” of all black people and the next generation of civil rights leaders. This would mean that some how Tom Joyner, Michael Baisden, Brian McKnight, Steve Harvey, MoNique and Roland Martin all speak for me? Rarely, if ever, is there an assumption that white radio personalities speak on behalf of all white people. Is it me or hasn’t our diversity of thought and experience as black people, outgrown the ability for a chosen few with a mic to be able to speak on behalf of all black people? Moreover, do we as “minorities” undermine our impact and reduce our reach when we allow our radio personalities, television personalities, etc. to speak as if there is only one “black view point?”

Vyne readers, tell us what you think: Do black radio/media personalities speak for you?

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1 Comment

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One response to “Do Black Radio Personalities Speak For You?

  1. griffin

    most of the names mentioned in this article are syndicated, and that right there is the danger that exists today in radio stations serving americas black communities, it has a narrow focus, not somuch that they are the defacto voices for us and we walk blindly to their drum, but the danger is the narrow focus that will supress and has been supressing the local focuses in our commumities for far too long, that then shows us radio is the problem I also notice a good 3 or so names work for black headed companies, but those companies are run no different than their white owned counterparts that also service black communities in many cities around america. And it is an insult ti think that because their black syndicated talk shows and a dirth of local black talks that well ok so since we have national shows then they our voice and to me that is an insult, but the newer jacks they have to speak up on this more. And not only worry about the pay check at the end of the day either.

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