Black-owned radio has long been the cornerstone of black communities – not only a vital source of our music, but also a reflection of our culture, values ââand beliefs. Current events and historic events were announced as families and friends gathered to listen, speculate, celebrate and empathize. I vividly remember as a child learning of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through our local black radio station. Black radio has provided the soundtrack of life’s milestones, a voice for the dreams and priorities of our communities, and a conscience for a people striving to create equal space in our nation.
But given recent trends in the broadcasting industry that have reduced black ownership of radio stations, I fear that future generations will never share the wonderful legacy of black radio. While in Congress, my colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and I urged Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promote minority ownership of our broadcast airwaves. President BidenJoe Biden’s Vaccination Rise Includes Biggest Republican Gain Since April: Gallup Power grab? The Federal Reserve may soon be our only Ford bank asking salaried workers for PLUS vaccine status himself provided an important backdrop to the urgency of the FCC’s mission: on his first day in office, he issued an executive order directing federal agencies such as the FCC to “redress inequalities in their policies and programs that hinder equal opportunities â.
The good news is that many in the civil rights community are working with Congress and the FCC to reverse the decline of black-owned radio. The Multicultural Media, Telecommunications and Internet Council (MMTC) recently proposed seven racial justice initiatives to the FCC that would help black-owned radio stations raise capital, expand their advertising base and compete the large incumbent operators. One concrete and immediate step is to approve a new technology called radio geographic targeting, which is the ability to identify a user’s location and the content of equipment based on that. A geographic targeting proposal, currently awaiting FCC approval, would allow radio stations to provide specific geographic information on traffic, weather, public interest and advertising to their local communities.
This is not a particularly new idea. Today’s digital technology enables our devices to access news, information and personalized advertising in precise locations. The cable industry has been doing the same for years. And four years ago, the FCC put broadcasters on par with cable and the Internet’s ability to geographically target content. However, FCC rules do not yet allow radio stations to geo-target.
It is therefore time for the FCC to allow radios to use the technical innovation deployed by other media platforms. This would allow black-owned stations to innovate and provide listeners and businesses with a deeper and more engaged local experience. As advocated by the MMTC, along with 21 national public interest, civil rights and business organizations, geographic targeting is a technological solution that black radio needs to engage its listeners, expand minority ownership and reach underserved communities more effectively.
Geo-targeted content on the radio would provide more relevant emergency alert messages, hyper-local traffic reports, and more effective advertising. This last point is crucial in promoting minority ownership: radio is entirely dependent on advertising, and geographic targeting allows black-owned stations to sell advertising to small businesses – often also black-owned – in geographic blocks. smaller and more affordable. Geo-targeted ads can be more relevant, useful and effective for a radio station, its listeners and advertisers. This is why other media platforms are adopting them.
Unlike comments posted publicly by mega-broadcasters who are not inclined to compete fairly with small stations, geo-targeted content is not synonymous with âredliningâ. Only the opposite is true. Simply put, like local cable TV operations, radio geographic targeting would reserve a small segment of airtime for local advertising. Geo-targeted content encourages more advertising for âmom and popâ business owners with limited dollars, who are looking for an opportunity to connect with a geographically specific audience.
Additionally, thanks to MMTC and others, it has long been FCC policy that broadcasters, upon license renewal, certify that their advertisements and sales contracts are non-discriminatory. In short, this technology would serve black-owned radio stations, their advertisers and their listeners.
There are many proposals put forward by MMTC and others to promote black radio. But a big step in the right direction to increase the number of minority-owned radio stations – and to provide a platform for small minority-owned businesses to afford to advertise on the radio – would be d ” approve the geographic targeting rule currently before the FCC.
William Clay LaceWilliam (Lacy) Lacy Clay Cori Bush is making her way by being inspired by the former representative of the world of activist lobbying. Clay joins Pillsbury PLUS law and lobbying firm Jr. served as the US Representative for the 1st Congressional District of Missouri from 2001 to 2021. He was a second generation member of the Congressional Black Caucus.