Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Review Of The Month: "I See Black People: The Rise and Fall of African American Owned Television and Radio" By: Kristal Brent Zook

A society that doesn't have a viable means of truthful communication isn't much of a society. Communication is what every form of human interaction and creation is about. A large majority of our technological advances focuses on making communication speedier and more efficient. The importance of communication makes the controllers of its distribution very powerful and influential.

Television and radio communicates messages that are subliminal and overt, to masses of people every nanosecond of the day. But, what happens when the ownership of the conduits of message relaying is in the hands of a few? The results of that stingy type of ownership is a feeding of myopic viewpoints to the general public, and a silencing of voices that don't have the means of widespread message-sending. What good is having the right to freedom of speech, if you don't have a noticeable platform on which to exercise that right? This is why the dearth of ownership of television and radio stations in the hands of African Americans is such a pertinent issue for the Black community.

In, "I See Black People: The Rise and Fall of African American Owned Television and Radio," the author, Kristal Brent Zook, explores the history of Black ownership of media corporations. She smartly does this via ten interviews with pioneering African American media moguls. These interviews are revelatory regarding what it takes to own and operate radio and television stations. The interviewees also address what it means to be an African American in the tight fisted, mostly closed shop realm of media ownership.

Through the book's subjects renderings of their sacrifices, tribulations and triumphs, the reader is able to relate to the moguls' passionate attempts to strive in a business that has been traditionally unwelcoming to minority ownership. The book leaves the reader aware of the many market niches that are ignored by the media big wigs. These niches are begging ti be catered to, or at the very least even acknowledged.

After reading this terse and enlightening tome, I was left contemplating what the future of African American ownership will be. With all of the digital transmissions being implemented for television and radio, will the FCC be wise enough to allow savvy moguls from various ethnic groups to have an opportunity to "sit at the big table?"

Including deserving experts from a multitude of cultures in the running of media outlets will help to benefit society by providing a balance of viewpoints. Plus, for all of the number-crunchers: It would help the bottom line too. Consumers need to demand that their voices are heard in this new, digital revolution.

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