For some perspective on the tragic death of George Floyd, and the protests that followed, we turned to several of Radio Ink’s 2020 Future African American Leaders in Radio. We also asked them for their thoughts on the protests taking place and what they believe radio’s role moving forward should be.
Demarcus Jones is General Sales Manager for Cumulus in Baton Rouge. “As a citizen of this great country, it saddened me to see the brutal murder of a man at the hands of a group of rogue police officers. Sadly, it shed light on a bigger issue in this country which is the invisible racial divide which exists. I support the wonderful men and women in Police Departments who do their jobs daily with love and compassion in their hearts. I equally condemn the officers with hidden agendas and hateful motives. They are not officers; they are criminals.
“Protesting is a part of every American’s constitutional rights and kudos to everyone and anyone who decides to use their voice. Looting is something totally different. Protesters don’t loot. Criminals loot. Protesters protest. I believe there are two separate groups of people like everything else, good and bad; and it is our responsibility as people to continue to remember that while these protest are happening. I support the protesters and condemn the looters.
“Radio is and continues to be the mass medium most used by consumers. As this is true, I believe radio stations have a duty to continue to support people’s individual rights to protest while continuing to help keep the communities and businesses they serve safe. Messaging such as “the proper ways to protest” and calming messaging from community leaders in each market should become a fabric of most stations going forward as we need to spread more positivity and love across our great nation via radio’s wonderful airwaves!
Zipporah Mondy is the Assistant General Manager for KJIW-FM and KCAT-AM in Memphis. “I could barely watch the video of George Floyd. My stomach was turning and I kept looking away from the screen feeling queasy and angry. That was beyond tragic and my heart grieves for his family!
“When we don’t address problems, those problems grow and come back up later as bigger problems than before, and sometimes get out of control. That’s what we’re seeing here.
“Racism is appalling, yet I think the issue at hand goes deeper than race alone. We have a broken justice system. I personally experienced it back in 2013 when my dad was shot in a “Good Samaritan” gang robbery and my family had to fight for justice to keep the four guys arrested (who were repeated offenders) from being released. Despite our efforts, some of the four were released and later raped a teenage girl. Victims of crimes should not have to fight for justice, ever. I want to see a reformed justice system of integrity in which people in authority are held accountable and in no way above the law, and criminals can’t work the system to get around the law.
“Despite my frustrations, I’m trying hard to process everything as objectively as I can.
“Social media has been a platform infiltrated with mourning and some good things but also ruthless arguments, false information, orchestrated lies, peer pressure, manipulation, disturbing images, and even bullying. This is contributing to pinned up emotions that were already building up from the quarantine.
“And even with news media, I’m seeing so much bias and spinning, out-of-context quotes, angles, politics, narratives, and sensationalizing that contribute to division in our nation.
“The key journalism principles of truth, accuracy, and objectivity have been lost in our opinion-saturated information-overload society.
“Therefore radio has a big role to play. Radio is an influential medium that is connected to listeners. We should use our platform to present the most accurate information and help people to cope and process objectively. We should discourage apathy and encourage empathy to strategically bring change and accountability.
“Peaceful protests are good and speaking out is necessary; however, violence, rioting, destruction, looting, and disrespect for authority are wrong and counterproductive. Grandma always said, “two wrongs don’t make a right!” We can have righteous anger for wrongdoing, but we need to channel our anger toward effective action.
Isaiah Bryant is the Director of Advertising Sales, Marketing & Promotions for American Urban Radio Networks. “The video of George Floyd pleading for help is chilling and shakes me to my core. The protests across this country represent a legitimate and honest frustration over a failure to reform our criminal justice system. Most participants have been peaceful with organizers calling for restraint, peace and educating crowds on safety. The protests I have joined in even offered extra masks and hand sanitizer. The minority of participants who have resorted to violence put others at risk, often the most vulnerable. When I see coverage of a small business owner’s shop destroyed it distracts from the greater cause. I say this also understanding the biased coverage our community receives and knowing there are perpetrators who attend these protests with their own agenda to deliberately undermine the cause.
“Urban radio as a trusted voice has a responsibility to their community. With another tragedy, another name, our community feels this pain hardest. Urban radio can authentically inform listeners what is happening in our communities; ways to keep themselves and others safe; discuss de-escalation efforts; provide information and offer resources to those who need help.”
This story continues in our Wednesday morning headlines.