Sunday, January 10, 2010

Black Radio Pimp History

Black radio owners and some announcers have made historical decisions that have now come back to bite them. For years it was the norm for artists and record labels to pay for play and a lot of money was paid to announcers, music directors and program directors.

Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, told me a story of how he was called to the offices of a certain record label in New York City. While in the office of the president he was given 4 different artists records to listen to and asked to make sure these particular records got airplay throughout the United States. After listening to the music the president of the label got up from his desk, told Jack to sit there and get what he needed from a desk drawer. The president left the room, Jack sat at the desk opened the drawer and saw it was filled with money. Needless to say he filled not only his pockets, but stuffed money inside his underwear and shirt.

His next move was to travel the country, making stops at major Black radio stations, personally delivering records, making preparations for station promotions and of course leaving money. Most radio program and music directors were not only the most popular on air announcers, but also the biggest Black club promoters in their city. This worked well for artist, record label, radio station, record store and club owner while establishing a great experience for those particular cities listeners.

What changed this great system?

Many different contributing factors including technology but the first factor was jealousy and greed. Where the program director was NOT the #1 jock at the station the rules were changed so that the relationship between record label and announcer became limited. Certain PD’s were cynical, sarcastic and downright nasty whenever the name of another announcer came up. Station owners mismanaged their businesses, underpaying announcers, not repairing equipment and using questionable accounting principles. One of the more interesting abuses of power by owners came with the concept of the owners receiving a percentage of the artists’ shows within their city in return for increased advertising and increased music airplay.

Not all Black owned radio stations adhered to these ideas but remember that most Black music stations were not Black owned (they are still not). During my days as a record promoter in the Southern United States I came upon a station owner that would occasionally pay his jocks and if they complained about their money he would fire them and take over their air shift. He called himself BIG BOSS MAN on air and he thought that he was the best “passing for colored” DJ in the nation.

Unfortunately this industry allowed the practices of greed; mismanagement and corruption to become the norm and not the exception. Today’s urban youth feel that you must “pay for play”, cheat the club owner, deceive the public and ultimately get someone else to make their career happen. Pimping is not new; only newly abused once again.

2010 is the year that the world will change. In fact every year is that year, however this is the only time we’ll get to change the world this time.

Stop Pimping, Start Living

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