This weekend we’ll be celebrating Dr Martin Luther King‘s birthday and in doing so we should all be mindful of the power of his words. We should be mindful of King’s words as we continue to dialogue about what sort of responsibility those who speak to the public have especially via broadcast medium especially with respect to Black Radio..We thought we’d take a walk down memory lane and listen to what King had to say about the role BLACK RADIO played in furthering the Civil Rights struggle..It was a speech given in August of 1967 in Atlanta, Ga to NATRA (National Association of TV and Radio Announcers )
In this rare speech which can be heard in its entirety by clicking the link above..King talks about how Black radio has been a transformative tool. He notes that Black radio is the primary source of information in the Black community and is more powerful medium than even Television which he says was made for the benefit of white people.
King notes that Black radio deejays are important ‘opinion makers’ who made integration easier, through the language of universal language of soul music. He praised Black radio deejays for helping unite people and Black radio deejays through presenting this music was able to conquer the hearts and minds of people in ways that surpassed Alexander the Great..
Check out this entire article at: http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/dr-martin-luther-king-the-power-of-soul-music-the-importance-of-black-radio/
The other thing to keep in mind about Dr King was his shrewd understanding of media in particular radio and what a powerful tool it was. many do not talk about the special relationship King had with Jack ‘Jack tha Rapper Gibson (I used to fly to Atlanta from LA to attend Jack the Rapper) Atlanta was so Fun back then!!!! and the nations first Black owned radio station WERD founded in 1949 which was housed in the same building as King’s SCLC headquarters on Auburn street in Atlanta.
Gibson is credited with being the first to broadcast King and other Civil Rights leaders on public airwaves. There are stories about how when rallies and special events were unfolding, King would bang on the ceiling with a broom to the studio housed above him, the disc jockey would lower the boom mic and King would speak to the people via radio.
In this 1967 NATRA speech Dr King delivered the members of this important African American organization were very appreciative as King laid out the indispensable role Black radio had played in shaping and furthering the Civil Rights struggle. King names off some of the key unsung radio heroes who he says there would not have been a Civil Rights movement had they not reflected the mood of the people and brought critical information to the masses. We hear about Georgie Woods, Pervis Spahn, Magnificent Montague and Tall Paul White to name a few.
King also talks about how radio is the most important and predominant medium in the Black community. It has far more reach and influence than television. He also talks about how the music these Black radio announcers played. King asserted that it helped united people. King pointed out how Blacks and Whites were listening to the same songs and doing the same dances and that the Soul Music these disc jockey’s played had served as an important cultural bridge.