“Open Line”: What’s Going On?


By Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
           On April 26, 2012, ESPN agreed to lease the radio license of WRKS-FM and to offer Spanish sports programming to the Latino community. Any transaction under FCC law must be in the “public interest”. Under a lease, WRKS-FM is forbidden from assigning its duties to ESPN. Public affairs programming is a duty of WRKS-FM. It continues throughout the duration of the lease.
The news media set off a false alarm when it reported last week that WRKS-FM was closing its curtains commencing on April 30, 2012. This would shut down “Open Line”, a public affairs program. I waited until Sunday morning, April 29, to hear from the “Open Line Team”: Bob Slade, Judge Bob Pickett and James Mtume. They could only say, “We don’t know”. This was so sad.
“Open Line” is in cement with the FCC until at least June 1, 2014. This is predetermined and it is FCC law. It should have been known to Slade, Pickett and Mtume on April 29. Week-in-Review should also be set in cement except that Rev. Al Sharpton has decided that no one should host a radio program that is critical of him. This is why Rev. Sharpton’s satellite radio program is on a delayed timer in New York.
He fears that the truth about him will be heard nationwide. No one in the tri-state area can call in and criticize him. Of course, you can subscribe to the satellite radio program. His actions should be of great concern to the FCC. Censorship is outlawed. It is more important for him to protect his modus operandi than it is for the public to hear the truth.
I personally knew that the news reports of WRKS-FM’s death were false.
Slade, Pickett and Mtume, on the other hand, are still unaware of the workings of the FCC. They should have cleared up this false claim about “Open Line” on April 29. They did not. The blind is leading the blind.
Unless Blacks can attend legal seminars “free” and eat “free”, they prefer to remain ignorant. Any costs of the legal seminar and any costs for breakfast and space should be paid by the sponsor. Any person who is working against white supremacy should pay all costs.
If a Black legal genius is teaching the media seminar and a white moronic lawyer is teaching a similar seminar, Blacks prefer to be taught by the white man. This is a serious problem. Hon. Elijah Muhammad said it best”: “If they will not treat you right, why do you think they will teach you right?
         If Slade, Pickett and Mtume had been attending the monthly, media seminars at the Cotton Club, they would have known that no one can terminate “Open Line” before June 1, 2014 and it will take a good shot in June 2014 to take “Open Line” out. The FCC grants a broadcast license for a definitive period of time.
         With “Open Line” still airborne, we should brace for a rough landing. The problem is WBLS-FM. It is on a life support system and it has thrown out a lifeline to Spanish programming for financial help. WBLS-FM is not obligated by the FCC to air “Open Line”. It has its own public affairs responsibilities.
Since Blacks refuse to finance their own media rights, “Open Line” is now partnering with WBLS-FM which is flirting with bankruptcy. The FCC should review this entire transaction. This leasing transaction is not in the “public interest”. A media rights organization for Blacks with standing and legal resources should oppose it.
            I humbly believe that my letter to Emmis Communications saved the day. Its management had assumed that if the “Open Line Team” is dumb, it is reasonable to assume that the Black community is no different mentally.EMMIS was ready to pull the plug on “Open Line”. This reminds me of the African Burial Ground. If I had not been in New York, there would have been no memorial today for our revered ancestors.
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