Federal agents shut down an unlicensed radio station in Boston Thursday, sending “shockwaves through Boston’s African-American community, where the station filled a vacuum on the airwaves after the station WILD-AM was sold,” Meghan E. Irons reported Friday for the Boston Globe.
Gov. Deval Patrick sharply criticized federal agents for the shutdown, and said he tried to dissuade them, Irons and Michael Levenson reported Friday for the Globe.
Patrick, the state’s first African American governor, said he had received advance warning from the U.S. attorney’s office about the raid and urged the office not to proceed. “But US marshals and agents from the Federal Communications Commission went to the Grove Hall station Thursday and shut it down.”
” ‘I’m incredibly disappointed,’ Patrick said. ‘I understand what the legal basis is, but you’d like to think of their bringing more of a problem-solving approach. Touch is a pretty important voice in the community. I’ve been on it many times and have tremendous respect for the team over there.’ “
The shutdown took place amid a national decline in African American-owned radio stations.
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters said in August, “In radio, within the past year, no less than 20 radio stations that were owned by African Americans were forced into bankruptcy by their lenders and have subsequently been sold to non-minority purchasers. The failure of these lenders to reach out to minority purchasers, particularly in light of the anemic pace for sales to minorities in general, suggests that radio has regressed back to the pre-1978 days, when minorities were never given an opportunity to participate as station owners. The potential impact on the African American community cannot be overstated. We are losing our voices, sale by sale. . . . “
The Boston station’s founder, Charles L. Clemons Jr., protested that Touch 106.1 FM was providing a needed service for Boston’s black community. “We don’t have a positive voice,” he said outside the station. “A radio station that’s profanity-free . . . that inspires and educates.”
However, authorities confirmed that they had received a complaint that Clemons was using his station to promote his unsuccessful 2013 mayoral bid, the Globe reported.
In Boston, WILD-AM was a local, black-owned station from 1973, when it was acquired by the late Kendall Nash, until 1999, when his widow Bernadine Nash sold the station to Radio One. In 2011, Radio One leased 1090 AM to China Radio International, a Beijing-based, Chinese government-sponsored medium aimed at fostering better understanding between the people of China and the rest of the world.