by Taki S. Raton
In response to the sudden demise of radio station 1290 WMCS, a community forum has been planned for Monday, March 11 at the Brotherhood of Firefighters Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Rd, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
A special tribute to TJ, 1290’s operations manager, is included in the evening’s agenda.
A panel of community stakeholders has also been convened to share views, opinions and concerns as to what this loss means and the moving forward options available to fill the void of broadcasting much needed news, information, and issue analysis of particular interest to and for Black Milwaukeeans.
Confirmed panelists to date include Sherwin Hughes, Dr. William Rogers, Homer Blow, and Nathaniel J. Stampley, Sr.
“My goal for organizing this gathering is to offer an opportunity for our community to respond with gratitude for the voice that 1290 has provided for over 20 years,” says Carmen C. Ray, President and C.E.O. of Rays Consulting and Training and co-author of “Raising Healthy Children in an Unhealthy World.”
As reported in the Milwaukee Community Journal’s February 27, 2013 edition, 1290 AM, “The Talk of the Town” was closed down on Tuesday, February 26 at precisely 10 a.m. The reason reported, according to the MCJ account, was “business, pure and simple.”
Quoting MCJ Publisher Patricia O. Pattillo upon being notified of such an unfortunate circumstance, she positioned that, whether it is print, television or radio, “This is still a business; and to run a business, to keep the doors open, you must make money.”
It was further cited in the MCJ editorial that what happened to WMCS “should serve as a reminder to our community that we must support our institutions with our dollars through supporting the businesses that advertise with Black media (print and broadcast) or if you’re a business owner, buying advertising from the various Black media that have accepted the responsibility of speaking truth-to-power on our behalf.”
The editorial adds that as freedom is not free, “Communication is not free.
There is a cost,” and that we must learn that economics is “the stabilizing force of our community” and we must spend with each other to keep our institutions alive.
MCJ encourages all to read the MCJ in print and/or online and that its website if updated daily.
In a message on her facebook page, TJ expressed that, “It is with great sadness that I say that 1290 WMCS as we have know it for over 30 years has changed. The days of ‘Talk of the Town’ are over. Thank you all who have supported the station.”
According to a March 2 MetroMilwaukee.org posting, the WMCS call letters will be changed to WZTI-AM thereby launching its “Martini Radio” programming featuring the “Rat Pack” era maladies of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin , Tony Bennett and modern artists to include Adele, Norah Jones, and Michael Buble.
“1290 WMCS provided us information so that we could empower ourselves and move our community forwards,” cites the MCJ editorial in its closing. “Its silence on the airwaves will be deafening, will be sorely missed, and hard to replace.”
The scheduled Monday gathering is free and open to the public. For any additional information on this event, please email Ray at: [email protected].
A caller to the newspaper Wednesday asked if it was true that 1290 WMCS AM, the radio station known as “The Talk of The Town” that gave our community a voice and educated us on issues important to Black Milwaukeeans, was no more?
When we told the caller yes, she became upset at the news of its demise, which took place Tuesday, Feb.26, at 10 a.m. on the dot.
The caller preceeded to vent her frustration, urging the community to do something to express its outrage that a radio station our community depended on to counter the perceived lies of the mainstream media was off the air.
The caller hinted 1290 might have been the victim of the “powers-that-be” (or as MCJ Columnist Mike Holt called in a recent column, “The Hand”) that pull the strings on everything going on in the city of Milwaukee politically, economically, as well as the direction of education–even in the Black community (compliments of some of us who have compromised their principles and side with the mainstream agenda over their people’s needs).
She theorized the radio station was targeted for having the audacity to speak the truth on issues those “powers” wanted us to remain ignorant about.
Truth be told, the reason for the jarring end to a Black radio era was business, pure and simple. Despite championing causes such as protests against police brutality, the importance of voting, education issues ranging from the high drop-out rate to the impact of School Choice and Charters, and the so-called political maliase in city and county goverment that has led to attempts by some in local corporate suites to suggest “blowing-up” county government, issues can never trump the almighty dollar.
MCJ Publisher Patricia O. Pattillo said it best when she heard the news: This–whether it be print, television or radio–is still a business; and to run a business, to keep the doors open, you must make money.
Sadly, despite co-owner Willie Davis’ best intentions and personal financial investment, he could no longer justify to his partners (and probably to himself in the end) continuing 1290s operation and much needed voice that countered the negative perceptions of the mainstream.
What happened to WMCS should serve as reminder to our community that we must support our institutions with our dollars through supporting the businesses that advertise in Black media (print and broadcast) or (if you’re a business owner) buying advertising from the various Black media that have accepted the responsibility of speaking truth-to-power on our behalf.
Communications is not free…as freedom is not free. There is a cost. We must–as a community–learn economics is the stablizing force of our community. We must spend with each other within our community to keep its institutions alive.
We encourage all to read the MCJ in print and/or online. Our website is updated daily. We also encourage you to forward your editorial concerns to us as well. We remain committed to sharing your concerns with our readership.
Comedian and activist Dick Gregory said it best: “Money is not power. Education is not power. Information is power.”
1290 WMCS provided us information so that we could empower ourselves and move our community forward. Its silence on the airwaves (if you don’t count Elvis Presley songs) is deafening, will be sorely missed, and hard to replace.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
by Perry Bacon, Jr., theGrio
Rumors of the demise of the Tea Party have been greatly exaggerated.
The victory of Mitt Romney in the GOP primaries over more conservative opponents, the resounding reelection of President Obama and defeat of Tea Party favorites like Florida’s Allen West suggested that the movement was much weaker than when it rose to power in 2010.
But the fiscal cliff debated has illustrated the enduring influence of the Tea Party and more broadly, the power of very conservative members of the Republican Party. It’s generally assumed in Washington that both President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell could easily reach a deal to resolve the fiscal cliff if just the three of them were negotiating.
Instead, Boehner in particular must constantly worry about appeasing the political right. Many of the 241 Republicans in House are very worried if they vote for a tax increase, or essentially any bill President Obama also supports, they will face a primary challenge from a more conservative candidate and potentially lose. Most House districts have been drawn so that they are either heavily-Democratic or heavily-Republican, so the easiest way for a Republican to remain in office is to placate conservatives at all times, as there is little chance in many of these districts for a Democrat to win. (Here’s the New York Times’ Nate Silver explaining that of the 435 House districts, about 125 are overwhelming conservative, while 117 heavily favor Democrats.)
This dynamic was illustrated very clearly when Boehner begged and pleaded with Republicans last week, but could not persuade them to back a tax increase on family income over $1 million, far about the $250,000 threshold President Obama is pushing for.
Obama does not face such political pressures from his base. He is pushing for a broader deficit reduction deal that could increase the age that people are eligible for Medicare from 65 to 67 and gradually reduce Social Security benefits. Liberal Democrats are unhappy about both of those ideas as well as Obama’s decision to accept the withdrawal of Susan Rice as a candidate for Secretary of State amid harsh criticism of her from John McCain and other Republicans.
But Democrats in Congress don’t have to worry about primary challenges like Republicans do, as the party’s base is unlikely to punish members for backing something that the Democratic president does.
Republicans in Congress don’t feel such confidence about supporting a policy just because their leaders do. And they shouldn’t. The last three years have seen Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate cast as too moderate and lose primaries because they supported bills like the 2008 Wall Street bailout that party leaders also voted for. Boehner can’t guarantee his members won’t face primary challenges from the right, so there is little surprise they won’t follow his lead.
And the influence of conservatives and the Tea Party will endure beyond the fiscal cliff. Most Republican strategists believe the GOP needs to move to the political left on some issues, particularly immigration and gay rights. They argue the overall Republican brand is very unpopular with minority and young voters in particular, and that makes it extremely hard to win presidential elections.
But individual House Republicans are more concerned about their own reelection than the party’s prospects in 2016. So if Obama pushes for a bill that makes it easier for undocumented workers to become citizens, House Republicans will face a similar quandary to what they are dealing with on the fiscal cliff. Backing the bill would prevent the overall Republican Party from being cast as obstructionist. But for individual members, such a vote would put them in danger of facing a primary challenge from a conservative Republican who casts such legislation as “amnesty.”