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Is SiriusXM trying to undermine black 'Power'?

By Wade Simmons


WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013, 10:30 p.m. - My name is Wade Simmons. I currently serve as editor-at-large at Redding News Review. For over 13-years I have known Mr. Rob Redding. It has been my pleasure working with him at Redding News Review and as a journalist throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Mr. Redding is the most dynamic journalist that I have ever met during my career.

I am writing you to express my concerns about the changes that are being made to "SiriusXM 128 [formerly The Power] Urban View" (SIRI) and how these current changes at SiriusXM 128 convey a resonating trend that’s becoming commonplace in the media. Particularly, I am very concerned about program quality as it relates to content. Do program changes at SiriusXM 128 serve the best interest of the listening public?


From my knowledge, it has always been the programming attempt of The Power, when it was co-run by XM Radio and Radio One Inc. to provide programming content that was political in nature and analyzed with a black perspective. Even the connotation of “The Power,” outlines the intent of the channel—expressing black political muscle.

However, it seems that Sirius Radio (before merging with XM Radio) never had a black talk format. (See the attached link to Sirius Radio channel guide http://www.dogstarradio.com/SIRIUS_Channel_Guide.pdf) At closer glance Sirius Radio, prior to becoming SiriusXM, only black programming was in the area of Hip-Hop and R&B. Those channels were:

43 Backspin Hip-Hop/R&B Old Skool Rap

45 Shade 45 Hip-Hop/R&B Eminem’s Uncut Hip-Hop

50 Hot Jamz Hip-Hop/R&B Hits

51 Heart & Soul Hip-Hop/R&B R&B Hits

53 Soul Town Hip-Hop/R&B Classic Soul

Noticing this trend along with what has been revealed recently, I can only conclude that Sirius and SiriusXM never wanted or want to continue with a black talk radio format.


Recently, SiriusXM announced that "The Power" will now become "The Urban View." As you are aware, these programming changes took Redding News Review off the air from a prime-time spot and replaced it with “The B. Smith and ‘Thank You Dan’ Show.”  This move clearly demonstrates the unclear motives behind SiriusXM decisions. I restate, the Power is a political voice for the black community, surely placing programs that are not political in nature, on SiriusXM 128 transforms the entire dynamic of the channel, which would lead a good journalist to analyze why?

In no way should this communication be construed as an attempt to criticize B. Smith. Smith is an extraordinary black entrepreneur who has an interest in radio. However, it seems that placing a variety type program on what has been traditionally all political (black) talk format in the middle of the afternoon may be a clandestine attempt to remove black political talk radio out of the African-American community.   

Frankly, this change in programming is a slap in the face to the black community. It demonstrates that our interests are being communicated to us rather than being resonated by us.

I would also like to clear up some other misconceptions: Redding News Review is a news organization. Robert Redding, is a journalist/broadcaster not and announcer or talk host. Mr. Redding has assembled a team of top journalists who continuously present, analyze and address: issues, concerns, and viewpoints that impact the black community. Our jobs as journalists is not to say what people want to hear, however, to present the facts and reasoning behind facts, whether the viewpoint is popular or not. We have done this before the creation of SiriusXM and we will continue afterwards.

Also, another strange thing about this move to "The Urban View,” is that Sirius abated Rev. Al Sharpton by an hour. For me, the change from The Power to "The Urban View" could not be based on business. What business person would cutting Sharpton by an hour, a man who topped Wolf Blitzer on MSNBC, and No. 1 among blacks?  (See: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/friday-ratings-al-sharpton-tops-wolf-blitzer-in-demo-total-viewers/ and http://newsone.com/1444125/why-is-the-media-scared-of-rev-al-sharpton/) What's more, the decision appears to eliminate other shows from Kojo Nnamdi to GW on the Hill.

Last, it seems that this move was being plotted by SiriusXM long before, Liberty Media took over the controlling interest of the company this summer. On June 2, 2011, the Web site, the "UrbanBlog" reported that SiriusXM was making changes to 128 The Power, even calling 128 The Urban View almost two years in advance. (See: http://theurbanblogg.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/sirius-128-the-power-what-does-change-look-like-to-you/?replytocom=452#respond).

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Historical Facts, Relevant Citations and Points

Finally, I would like to just offer you a few facts about black media:

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism 2011 The State of the News Media: Annual Report on American Journalism described the black media as “resilient.”  Even the first line of the report stated that “ethnic media play an important role providing news about places and issues that are often absent from the mainstream media.”

There are two interesting points from NeilsonWire that I would like to share:

  • "The website reported that “African-Americans have interest and influence in upcoming elections; and
  • 81% of African-American believes that products that are advertise to them through black media 'is relevant to them.'”

This tells me that blacks are aware of their influence in politics and understand the nature of their buying power. Blacks want context that relates to them and their interests.

Black media, and media outlets have always been different from the mainstream media because of the aforementioned sentiment. Media sets a tone for what is covered. This is done through “framing.” Much research has been done on the differences how mainstream media and minority media may frame the same story.

In her dissertation "Racial Profiling in the Mainstream Media: Before and After September 11," Mia Nodeen Moody-Hall clearly describes how two different media views can be framed. Moody-Hall writes:

"Chicago Defender Executive Director Roland Martin provides an illustration of framing differences in black and mainstream newspapers in an Aug.16, 2005, article in which he explains how black press and mainstream media describe the same stories through different lenses. He writes, 'But just today, while looking at CNN, I came across the Associated Press’s report on the public viewing of Johnson [John H. Johnson]. They reported, hundreds of people filed past the Ebony and Jet founder’s casket on Sunday, six days after his death at age 87… In contrast to mainstream media’s coverage, the Chicago Defender’s Monday edition reported that more than 2,000 mourners."

Notice how the mainstream media describes the views as “hundreds of people.” In sharp contrast to the report from black media which reported that “more than 2000 mourner,” viewed the body of Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines.

Clearly there are historical voids as it relates to the context, content and analysis of the effective reporting of the news. Many of these issues cannot be handled effectively by the mainstream media, because they are unknown to so many, and simply a part of the subculture of the African-American experience.

In all, this open letter presents a compelling case for Mr. Redding and others to be returned to the air immediately and for SiriusXM to not change the format of 128 The Power. I am sure that Mr. Redding and your listeners would have much respect for SiriusXM for a quick response. Everyone makes blunders - recall “new Coke”. This ball is in your court.


Wade Simmons


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