For years I’ve tried to explain why there’s nothing like live radio, black live radio in particular.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t live in the dark ages. I still listen to commercial radio music but I also love satellite, my iPad, Pandora and all the other technology that has allowed us to hear exactly what we want to hear when we want to hear it.
But just as when we lost Luther, Gerald, Teena Marie, Michael Jackson, Whitney, Nelson Mandela and now Maya Angelou, I’m reinvigorated by the power of Black radio and what we can and continue to provide for our audience.
When a family has a loss, nothing is more soothing than hearing from other family and close friends who are going through the same thing. That shared experience bonds us closer and that’s what black radio does in good times and bad.
Twenty minutes before were able to go on air with the story, members of the Text Tom Club in the Winston-Salem area began sending word that Maya Angelou had passed away. And even though our texters have been caught up in false reports of celebrity deaths before, these texts just seemed to ring true. Something in my gut told me we had lost this great voice, mind and soul.
My Senior Producer Nikki, Sybil and my digital content producer went to work looking for confirmation of the story and the second they got it, I brought it to you all. A full 30 minutes later, CNN went live with the story as well.
Off air, we all shared personal stories of Maya Angelou that we’d laughed about for years, even the one about her “going there” with Sybil for asking her if she dated younger men. Sybil never forget that lesson and neither did the audience, and especially not J. Anthony Brown. It only seemed fitting that we remembered those good times because she was a woman who loved to laugh, loved to be flattered, loved to have a good time and loved being a woman.
Our Facebook page and I’m sure yours as well, is filling up with stories about how she or her writings touched your lives. I’m pretty sure for many, the Tom Joyner Morning Show played a part in getting to know Maya Angelou as well as you did in a way you never would have, if it weren’t for black radio and that makes me proud.
We meet all kinds of fascinating people working in radio and sometimes we take it for granted. We talk to stars, dignitaries even presidents as though they’ll be around forever.
For years Maya Angelou promised to cook for me and for years I thought I ‘d have the chance to take her up on her generous offer. I wish I had.
Tomorrow, we’ll do what we do best and what no other medium can do quite like live Black radio can. Our black history fact will chronicle her role in the Civil Rights movement, we’ll have music mixes and tributes and news–all paying tribute to the remarkable icon that she was.
But most of all, we’ll talk, like family to 8 million people who, like the Tom Joyner Morning Show, lost a family member too.
She will be greatly missed.