FCC Opens FM Stations to Community Groups
Is the radio regulatory organization looking to open its doors to diversity?
"Coincidences in Washington? Try this. Just when the Federal Communications Commission is circulating a draft order to loosen media ownership rules, it voted today to take final steps to create lower-power FM radio, a new class of noncommercial radio stations aimed at increasing diversity on the radio airwaves," Katy Bachman reported Friday for Adweek.
"While the two FCC actions may seem unrelated, they are connected by a long-standing debate in Washington about whether there is adequate ownership diversity among the nation's airwaves. Recent data from the FCC shows it is lacking, with people of color owning just 3.6 percent of full-power TV stations and 8 percent of radio stations.
"On the one hand, lower-power radio promises to increase diversity on the airwaves by allowing communities and organizations to operate hundreds of low-power, noncommercial radio stations. But the media ownership order being circulated, critics argue, would have the opposite effect by lifting the cross-ownership ban on owning radio and newspapers in all markets and TV and newspaper in the top 20 markets.
". . . Even though the procedures voted on by the FCC would pave the way to process more than 6,000 applications from communities and minority groups sitting at the agency, it will not divert criticism of the draft media ownership order that blasts the agency for offering what's basically a giveaway to big media owners."
The Prometheus Radio Project added, ". . . for the first time in more than a decade, community groups nationwide will soon be able to start small, local radio stations.
"Nonprofit organizations, schools, Indian Tribes and public safety agencies can apply for Low Power FM (LPFM) stations in October 2013. For the first time ever, the agency will allow these noncommercial stations in urban areas.
"The news is long-awaited by the Prometheus Radio Project and its supporters, who led the grassroots coalition that pushed Congress to pass the Local Community Radio Act of 2010. The law expanded community radio by directing the FCC to make more channels available nationwide, reversing an earlier law that relegated stations to rural settings. The FCC implemented the law by creating more flexible rules on where new stations can be located."
Not everyone in an urban area has waited for the FCC's authorization to start a low-power radio station.
On Thursday, Rachel Otwell of WUIS at the University of Illinois in Springfield broadcast a story on Mbanna Kantako, a blind activist who has been dubbed the "Godfather of Low-Power Radio."
The WUIS piece was promoted this way: "Human Rights Radio turned 25 years old this month. That's a quarter century of illegal broadcasting. The low-power Springfield station focuses on African American issues with a radical slant. And at its heart, is a man named Mbanna Kantako."
Mike Townsend, a retired social work professor, says in the story that although the signal went out only about two blocks, 3,000 people lived within the signal's reach.
Otwell quoted from an earlier NPR report:
"It was all, and still is, very much illegal. But Kantako has never paid any fines handed down from the Federal Communications Commission. His equipment has been confiscated, but he was never deterred. His broadcasts carry only a short distance, mostly the north side of Springfield, and show up at 105.9 on the dial.
"Kantako has become somewhat of a legend in a world where social activism and radio waves merge. . . . "
Brandy Doyle, New America Media: Expansion of Community Radio Means More Opportunities for Ethnic Media
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: FCC Approves Diversity-Enhancing Item
Justin Ellis, Nieman Journalism Lab: Why an expansion of low-power radio stations could mean good things for community news (2011)
Luis Carlos López, Hispanic Link News Service: Civil Rights Groups Oppose FCC's Proposal to Lift Ban on Multiple Media Ownership
"Bad cops, good cops, whatcha going to do, whatcha going to do when they're recording you?" Ruben Rosario wrote Thursday for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn.
"Well, if police are smart, the last thing they want to do is make a bogus arrest that could cost their department or city some dough after a decision this week by the nation's highest court.
"By refusing to hear an Illinois case, the Supreme Court let stand an appellate court ruling that concluded members of the public have a constitutional right to film, photograph or audiotape police officers doing their jobs in public. Similar rulings have been made by other courts.
". . . No one likes to be photographed or recorded without his or her consent or while working. But there is no longer any expectation of privacy in public for anyone. There are police surveillance and private cameras recording our every move on some streets and inside malls, shops and workplaces.
"Yet it seems that YouTube and online watchdog sites are uploaded daily with videos of blatant police misconduct or intimidation against camera-clicking civilians and, in some cases, working journalists."
American Civil Liberties Union: ACLU Calls on Maryland Transit Authority to Cease Unconstitutional Harassment of Photographers (2011)
Steve Silverman, Reason: 7 Rules for Recording Police (April 5)
Jim Walton, current president of CNN Worldwide, all but said last year that the on-air journalists of color it employs are not ready for prime time, and deployed Mark Whitaker, the highest-ranking person of color at the network, to talk with the National Association of Black Journalists about finding more suitable ones.
No prime-time anchor of color has surfaced.
When Walton announced in July that he was stepping down, Manuel De La Rosa, then vice president/broadcast of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, told Journal-isms, "CNN has talked a good game about developing Latinos and covering the issues in our community, but when you look at their product, it's not as impressive. They are not committed to Latinos and coverage of our issues."
CNN named Walton's successor on Thursday: Jeff Zucker, former president of NBC Entertainment, former president of the NBC Entertainment, News & Cable group and former president and CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group.
In an introductory conference call Thursday with the nation's media reporters, none of the questions concerned diversity.
So Journal-isms posed this question to Zucker afterward through CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson:
"How long does he think it will be before there is a weekday, prime-time anchor of color: African American, Hispanic, Asian American or Native American?"
The answer: "I hope you understand that it would be premature to engage on any programming or talent decisions at this time. I'm sure you gathered that from the call today."
Zucker was one of the NBC executives who accepted a Best Practices Award from NABJ two years ago.
"NBC News and its owned and operated stations nationwide have done tremendous work promoting diversity in its management positions as well as in its coverage. NABJ has championed such issues in news for 35 years," said then-NABJ President Kathy Times.
Philip I. Kent, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., CNN's parent company, did say during the call that Zucker's expertise in morning television was a "wonderful byproduct" of his hiring. The multiracial Soledad O'Brien hosts the CNN morning show, "Starting Point With Soledad O'Brien."
"Both executives said CNN was likely to redesign the network's morning program to make it more competitive with its cable rivals and the morning shows on the broadcast networks," Bill Carter and Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.
Ed Bark, Uncle Barky's Blog: Zucker is CNN's new leading man after long up-and-down career at NBC
Bill Cromwell, medialifemagazine.com: Five things Jeff Zucker must do to revive CNN
Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Ex-NBC executive Jeff Zucker announced as head of CNN Worldwide, vows to broaden definition of news
Edmund Lee and Andy Fixmer, Bloomberg: Zucker Vows Program Shakeup at CNN Stressing News Roots
R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News: Zucker: CNN Won't Become a Partisan News Service
Alex Weprin, TVNewser: Jeff Zucker's Vision For CNN: 'Broaden The Definition Of What News Is'
WPFW-FM veteran Tom Porter speaks with other protesters in front of the station's offices Friday. (Credit: voxunion.com) (Video)
Addressing angry listeners, John Hughes, general manager of Pacifica-owned WPFW-FM, Washington's community radio station, apologized Friday for "what is perceived as an unfair, unjust or unprofessional" shakeup of the station's programming that has meant cancellation of many of the station's shows. More than a dozen of the station's on-air programmers are being let go.
"It was not my nor Pacifica's intent to diss anyone," Hughes said on the air. "Choosing to grow isn't easy. Any format change presents a potential powder keg." But, he said, listenership is dwindling, the station is "reeling under economic conditions" and needs to "be smarter about what we put on the air."
The apology did not appear to quiet the anger, as show hosts joined listeners on the air in discussing what they called Hughes' lack of transparency and betrayal of the station's principles. A protest was scheduled in front of the station's offices Friday, and two meetings with community members were planned on Saturday. (The second is at 6 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, 5301 North Capitol St. NE.)
As reported on Wednesday, the changes eliminate much of the station's music programming in favor of syndicated talk, including the Tavis Smiley radio show; Smiley's "Smiley and West," with activist Cornel West; and Michel Martin's "Tell Me More," which airs on public radio's WAMU-FM, from NPR.
To some at the station, part of a five-city chain founded by founded by conscientious objectors in 1949, the very soul of the station was at stake.
Previous battles within the chain have been "one white left group vs. another white left group for ideological control of the network," said Tom Porter, a veteran at the station who left recently. Porter spoke Friday on the "Superfunky Soul Power Hour," hosted half an hour after Hughes' remarks by Jared Ball, an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University.
"This is the only station in the entire African world that has the ability to allow African people to speak on anything in the world," Porter said. "It speaks for and to people of color. The problem in the white left is they think they are immune to racism."
The imported programming comes with corporate underwriting, which Pacifica does not accept, the dissenters said. "We're supposed to be ideologically different from Cornel West and Michel Martin," Ball said. "The difference is essential."
Paul Farhi reported for Saturday's editions of the Washington Post that the "average age of WPFW's listeners is over 55, and there are fewer of them every year. Among all area stations, WPFW ranked 28th in the most recent radio ratings." Tony Norman, chairman of the community board that oversees the station, told Farhi the station is facing its third consecutive deficit, this time $150,000 to $200,000.
The dissenting programmers faulted management for a failure to market the station properly.
"We don't know what's going to happen to the station," Jay Winter told a listener to his Native American-themed "The NightWolf Show" Friday. "But if you don't let your voices be heard, they'll do whatever they want to do."
Producer Tony Regusters emailed Journal-isms Friday night: "I was just phoned and informed tonight by program director Bobby Hill, acting on behalf of GM John Hughes that my long running program: 'Sounds of Brazil' has been cancelled . . . and that this Sunday's 10:00 to 12:00 midnight program would be [my] co-host Ilheuma Zezeh and my last show @ WPFW.
"This is clearly a retaliation for publicly standing up to decry John Hughes' illegal and unjust management of WPFW and disrespect shown to the community and the station's volunteer programmers."
On ESPN's "First Take" [audio] on Friday, Stephen A. Smith named the news organizations where he had worked and offered advice to young African Americans.
"The New York Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, CNN, Fox Sports and then ultimately ESPN, the employers that I've run across, I'm here to tell you right now," Smith said, "if I rolled up in there with tattoos all over my body and my face and my head, I would not be sitting right here with you today doing this show."
Smith was reacting to a controversy prompted by a column Wednesday by David Whitley of AOL FanHouse, a site that is now part of the Sporting News. The column began:
"San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big-time NFL quarterback. That must make the guys in San Quentin happy. . . ."
Because Kaepernick is biracial, race entered the conversation. Jason McIntyre reacted Thursday on the Big Lead sports blog, which he runs.
"David Whitley, a columnist at AOL [FanHouse] -- which, I guess, is still a website -- is a racist. How else can you explain this lede to his truly awful, unbelievably lazy Colin Kaepernick column?" McIntyre began. He later filed an "update": "Bad job by me. Poor wording. I thought Whitley wrote a racist column. Having never met him, I should not have called him a racist."
Smith argued on "First Take" that race is part of the story for a different reason: because athletes influence the impressionable. Though young people of all races are tattooing themselves, African Americans are still "relatively disenfranchised in some people's eyes," and "when you add additional challenges to your life, that's just making the road to success that much harder. Everybody can't be a rapper. Everybody can't be a multimillion dollar athlete," Smith said.
Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, the parents who adopted Kaepernick as a baby, joined the discussion in an interview with USA Today's Robert Klemko. They said they objected to Whitley's characterization of their son, saying he was a 4.0 high school student who has never been arrested and that he chose to have Bible verses inscribed on his biceps, Klemko wrote Friday.
On Friday night, Garry D. Howard, editor-in-chief of the Sporting News and a black journalist, acknowledged that he "could have done more, in retrospect," to be sure his columnist's message did not get lost.
"Still, the overriding point of the column was there and one nationally televised discussion, in particular -- on 'First Take' with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless -- did a great job of explaining that the column was indeed more generational in tone and that tattoos in today's society are not necessarily a great thing for young, prospective job candidates of all races.
". . . we should be able to -- in this day and time -- have a discussion on the subject of tattoos without it morphing into a race debate when in fact, it was about a new generation doing things in a fresh and different manner."
Mike Cole, Fox Sports: Writer defends tattoo criticism of QB
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Colin Kaepernick's parents dismiss tattoo criticism
Sixty-four percent of smartphone owners -- and 37 percent of all adult cell owners -- use their phone to get news online [PDF], the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported on Friday. The figures were not significantly different for whites, blacks and Hispanics, though there were significant differences in other aspects of smartphone use.
While only 7 percent of white, non-Hispanics used their cell phones to access Twitter, for example, the figure was 17 percent for black non-Hispanics and 12 percent for Hispanics.
"What cell owners like most about their phones: convenience, connecting with friends and family, and getting help in an emergency," Aaron Smith, research associate with the Pew Internet Project, wrote in introducing the report. "What they like least: always being reachable, paying the bill, and poor reception. More owners say the phone is a time saver than a time waster, and many are devoted to their devices."
The survey found other differences among the ethnic groups:
"African American cell owners are more likely than whites (by a 15% to 8% margin) to say that using the internet, email, or apps is the thing they like most about their cell phone, as well as to say (by a 21% to 14% margin) that the cost of cell ownership is the thing they like least," the report said.
Also, "Witnessing poor cell phone etiquette is relatively common across a wide range of demographic groups . . . whites are more likely to have experienced it than non-whites. . . ."
In other findings, the percentage of cell phone owners who use their phone to:
Use social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+: white, non-Hispanic, 36; black, non-Hispanic, 48; Hispanic, 49.
Watch movies or TV shows through a paid subscription service such as Netflix or Hulu Plus: white, non-Hispanic, 6; black, non-Hispanic, 18.
Listen to an online radio or music service, such as Pandora or Spotify: white, non-Hispanic, 27; black, non-Hispanic, 34.
Play games: white, non-Hispanic, 36; black, non-Hispanic, 43.
Check weather reports and forecasts: white, non-Hispanic, 43; black, non-Hispanic, 51.
Navigate turn by turn or provide directions while driving: white, non-Hispanic, 34; black, non-Hispanic, 40.
Upload photos online so that others can see them: white, non-Hispanic, 30; black, non-Hispanic, 39.
Get news online: white, non-Hispanic, 36; black non-Hispanic, 37; Hispanic, 40.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a basketball Hall of Famer and business magnate, is the subject of a new book by Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press sports columnist. Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley wrote Sunday of "Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge," "Fair or not, a legacy is at stake. And those who are grateful that Bing stepped up are still rooting for him to win."
"Reynaldo Mena has been tapped to take over La Opinión's top editor job," Veronica Villafañe reported for her Media Moves site, citing "multiple inside sources" at the Spanish-language newspaper based in Los Angeles. "Reynaldo joins La Opinión from Hoy newspaper, Tribune's Spanish-language weekly in Los Angeles. . . ."
"On Tuesday, Glenn Beck focused his unique brand of criticism on the world of classical and modern art" on his Blaze TV program, Noah Rothman reported Wednesday for mediaite. "In an effort to criticize political art while emphasizing the freedom of artists to express their beliefs and values, Beck put a President Barack Obama figurine in a jar of urine." eBay on Wednesday took down the auction, Alex Fitzpatrick reported for Mashable, adding that beer served as a stand-in for Beck’s urine.
"Plain Dealer newsroom employees learned on Thursday the company is planning layoffs after January 31, 2013. That's when the contract prohibition against staff reductions expires," Cleveland writer Afi-Odelia Scruggs reported on her blog. An email from the Newspaper Guild "seems to confirm suspicions the Plain Dealer will become a three-day-a-week publication."
"On Wednesday, The New York Times's LGBT employee affinity group commemorated a cover story about the paper that ran in the Advocate 20 years ago," Jennifer Vanasco reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. . . . the article, by Michelangelo Signorile, explored the terror gay staffers felt when A.M. 'Abe' Rosenthal was executive editor -- until his 1986 retirement, the word 'gay' was forbidden in the paper -- and the significant changes made in both the coverage of gay issues and the quality of life of gay journalists after his successor took over."
A. Peter Bailey, an associate of Malcolm X who is a columnist in the black press, is critical of Ebony magazine's choices for the "100 Most Influential African Americans" in its December-January issue. Bailey writes in a column, ". . . It is next to impossible to believe that [the choices] are more influential than Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who all year long has been delivering powerful, perceptive, solutions-oriented speeches and sermons at churches throughout the country, or than attorney Faya Rose Sanders, founder of the [National Voting Rights Museum and Institute] in Selma, Alabama and leader of a campaign against honoring with a statue Nathan Bedford Forrest, the former Confederate general who ordered the cold-blooded murder of 300 captured Black Union soldiers during the Civil War and who also founded the [Ku] Klux Klan, a terrorist organization. . . ."
Documentarian Paul Grant has produced "The Gospel of Healing, Volume One: Black Churches respond to HIV/AIDS," which is to be screened in Memphis, Tenn., Saturday as part of World AIDS Day observances, Wendi C. Thomas wrote Wednesday in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis.
The CBS Sports Radio network will be launching Jan. 2, Joe Lucia reported Thursday for awfulannouncing.com, "and the talent lineup the network has put together for its four core three-hour shows is veteran-laden and impressive. The morning show from 6 to 9 AM just recently announced this week will be hosted by Tiki Barber, Dana Jacobson, and Brandon Tierney. Barber, the former New York Giants running back and failed Football Night in America analyst, steps back into the spotlight after leaving NBC in May 2010 surrounded by a cloud of controversy. . . ."
Irvin Harrell, a former assistant business editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is joining the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., as Suburban Team editor, editors announced to the Virginian-Pilot staff.
"An online petition is demanding New York Times critic Ken Johnson acknowledge racist and sexist language in his recent writings, HuffPost BlackVoices reported Thursday. "The art critic's review of 'Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles' and November's preview of 'The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World' are being called out for their generalizations of black and female artists."
"Steve Nunez has joined KSWT as news director," Kevin Eck reported for TVSpy on Thursday. "Nunez confirmed with TVSpy he started at the Yuma, AZ, CBS affiliate last week. The former KGUN morning anchor was let go from the Tucson ABC affiliate in September after one year on the desk."
"The International Press Institute (IPI) today demanded an investigation into the death of a Colombian journalist who police say suffered fatal head injuries after falling from a police vehicle -- despite claims from family and colleagues that the journalist was instead beaten and violently thrown from the truck," Scott Griffen reported for the press-freedom group. "Guillermo Quiroz Delgado died in a hospital in the northern Colombian city of Sincelejo after having been in intensive care since Nov. 20, when the disputed incident occurred."
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.