Photo by zapdragon via Flickr
Look. I don't listen to the radio much. I have an iPod, lotsa podcasts and books on top of that. But from time to time, I like to find out what's poppin in the mainstream media world, so I'll turn on the radio. I learned back in 1995, when I moved here, that "Jammin" 94.5FM wasn't. There was an AM station called WILD, but me and my friends joked that it was "solar powered" because the signal died at night.
Then, something strange happened. I believe it was in 1999 or 2000. I was rollin down the street with some of my boys, headin to a club. We found a new station. It was 97.7FM, and it played Tone Loc's "Funky Cold Medina" "Wild Thing" ON A LOOP WITH NO DJs, NO COMMERCIALS, NO NOTHIN.
It was the strangest thing. A while later, we found out that there was a new black radio station in town, and they were pretty damn good. At least they gave JAM'N 94.5 some kind of competition.
After my summer in Chicago (a city with multiple Spanish language and multiple black radio stations), I turned on 97.7 and heard classic rock. Yes, CLASSIC ROCK. I thought it was a mistake, but today I read Adrian Walker's September 4th column (registration required). WILD (the solar powered AM station also owned 97.7FM) had sold the station. What's being broadcast now is a simulcast of WAAF which also holds 107.3FM.
This is some bullshit! From Adrian's column:
The sale was another reminder that a so-called minority-majority city seldom feels like one when money and power come into play.
As far as WILD is concerned, the Jimmy Myers show was a casualty of the sale, as well as syndicated shows hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Michael Eric Dyson, a popular academic. At least the Radio One people had the judgment to shift the Tom Joyner Show, which has millions of listeners nationwide, to the AM dial. Boston shouldn't be the only major city where you can't find Joyner on the dial.
What's done is done. But there is a large community in this city clamoring for ownership and a larger voice that it can call its own.
Without those kinds of changes, the ``New Boston" will never be anything more than an empty slogan.
Here's the deal. Boston has Negro Retention issues.
When I left DC to come to college here, black people at home told me, "Boston is the most racist city in America." When I got here, black people told me they couldn't wait to leave. Now that they have left, when I tell them I live in Boston, they say, simply, "Why?" It's as if I'm friggin crazy to be here.
One of my closest friends was just the sort of guy the Boston area wants to keep. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he worked for a firm downtown and clerked for a judge. He did volunteer and advocacy work. He partied. He left, for several reasons:
- Almost all of his friends had left
- He and his wife couldn't come close to affording a home anywhere within reasonable distance
- He had family in Philadelphia
The third reason is out of control, but the exodus of black people drives further exodus. The high rent and housing costs drive anyone out of the city, and unless you want to live in Worcester, that means out of Massachusetts altogether. My boy got a three story home with five bedrooms for about $400K. That's how much a three bedroom CONDO goes for up here.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the black folk are all stashed away down in Roxbury and Dorchester. Out of sight and out of mind. There's no black nightclubs in the main areas of Boston. No substantial black political power. Never even had a black mayor.
And now we lost a radio station. Tell me this. How do you lose an "urban" format station in America 2006??? Hip Hop is the hottest selling thing since guillotines during the French Revolution, yet it lost to Classic Rock??
This is weak, yall. A city that can't keep it's young people is destined to fail. A city that can't keep its young black people is just sad.