Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Death of Public Affairs

If you are from the ol' School, you can remember the now extinct creature called public affairs programming. Thanks to the Black Power era, radio and television stations used to have shows that catered to the black community serving as forums to discuss issues. Even the white owned stations used to give up at least 30 minutes every weekend to discuss so called "minority issues." Part of that was public service, part was marketing and part was just a way to see what black folks were talking about, just in case they were planning a riot, the power structure would have a heads up.

But that was then, this is now. FCC regulations that once required a certain amount of public programming began to fade, as well as rules against mega corporations owning multiple stations in a single market. Also, since the '70's, the black community began to become less angry and after the '92 LA rebellion, public outrage became almost nonexistant. So the demand for public affairs programming began to fade.

Fast forward to 2008, an election year which is, auguably , one of the most important times in a post Katrina, post Imus, post Jena 6, black America.

In North Carolina, the major "urban "radio stations are owned by Radio One out of DC/Maryland; WQOK and WFXC. WFXC similcasts on frequencies 104.3 and 107.1 FM which gives them the ability to reach almost every black person in darn near the entire state.
Yet, between the two stations, they only have two "public affairs" programs for one hour, "Talk Back" and "Connections," which alternate between Sundays on 104.3 and 107.1 Out of the two, only Talk Back actually takes call ins and talks about what is happenin' in tha 'hood.

"Connections" is a different story.

The program, which consists of one or two hosts, mostly , talking about what's good with the Democrats and what's bad with the Republicans, stopped taking call ins about a year ago. Now it is just an hour long monologue, every other Sunday.

Who wants to hear someone give their opinions on politics for a solid hour, no matter how valid or invalid they may be?

If I just want to hear someone's opinion, I'll just go down to the corner and rap to Mr. Willie, the wino.

In a way, to, I guess, appease the haters, the host did announce on the air, today, that they will have a book signing at a resturant in Raleigh where listeners can come and discuss the issues that they have been monologuing about.

Here's the kicker....

They "may" just tape your comments and play them back on a future show...

Big whoop...

So, let's get this straight. In order for me to take an active part in the so called public affairs program, I have to get in my car, drive 20 miles to the next city, go to a resturant and listen to Mister Monologue radio host hawk his book ?

Call it what you want...But that ain't public affairs. The reason that it is allowed to pose as "public affairs" is that we, as a community, have not raised the issue, especially when it gets close to FCC license renewal time.

We will never get better, until we demand better...

Until then as Jay Z said ,

I guess we can't "knock tha hustle."

Min. Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283