View From Here: Media in New York

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Gil Noble’s Like It Is was the institutional memory of African-American people. Noble had a Pan-African understanding of the world and worked tirelessly for the education and uplifting of African people, particularly those here in the States. Since Noble’s illness, The Walt Disney-owned WABC-TV has substituted something they call Here and Now. The last segment I saw was of a white lady gushing about her venture to bring pajamas to the underprivileged children. Not having a remote, I bolted from the couch to change the channel as quickly as possible rather than witness what that warm and certain timeslot had become.
This is not a problem that ABC-TV is likely to fix on its own.
If the show is to be about African-Americans, then African-Americans have to have creative control and when we say African-Americans we don’t just mean people “of color,” who have a European-centered mindset.
This battle was waged before in 1968 on the set of NET’s Black Journal, one of the earliest black-produced newsmagazines on television. After the first episode aired, the black staff went on strike and demanded all black senior staff. They succeeded in their efforts and William Greaves was named executive producer and the show went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for a Newsmagazine.
The thought of any similar show of racial solidarity in the face of what is happening at WABC-TV today is so foreign a concept that it might as well be expressed in Swahili to the white-vetted series of hosts being tried for the right fit. And if they find one that “works”, what topics or lines of thought will they frown on, because the one they chose for the job, will never give them cause to frown.
If WABC-TV were really interested in their bottom-line for this time slot and using the public airwaves to serve a diverse public, they would make the smart move and agree with the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive To African People (CEMOTAP) to hire the legendary radio presence Imhotep Gary Byrd and the producers he selects.
Then they would have a program to be proud of instead of the embarrassment they have on now.
Byrd would bring what none of the other hosts can claim, a large constituency that would not only watch, but aggressively spread the word that instead of the Euro-centered commentary on local, national and world affairs that is seen everywhere else, there is an Afro-centric perspective on-air. The Walt Disney Company promotes diversity in attracting customers to their theme parks, why not at WABC-TV? Whatever it is about an Afro-centric perspective that is found disturbing, they have to get over it in 2012.

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