Both A Party ... And Seriousness ... At NABOB
March 20, 2009 at 5:14 AM (PT)
The reunited '70s trio LABELLE and seven others were honored at the MARRIOTT WARDMAN PARK HOTEL at NABOB's 25th annual gala, reports THE WASHINGTON POST. The glam event was a kind of all-African-American KENNEDY CENTER Honors, only without the TV special, the president or the funny medallions. With the exception of the still-very-current COLE, the recipients were honored for a lifetime of achievement, a la the KenCen awards.
Despite the air of celebration, there were some sobering notes. Several people noted the parlous state of black-owned radio and TV stations, which often struggle even when there isn't a recession. NABOB, founded in 1976, has lost 45% of its membership since the mid-1990s, as old-line owners have sold out to mainstream companies or merged into other black-owned companies. The organization's members now own 245 radio stations (LANHAM-based RADIO ONE is the largest black-owned broadcaster in the nation) and just 13 TV stations.
"There's an old saying that when white AMERICA catches a cold, we get pneumonia," NABOB Exec. Dir. JIM WINSTON said.
But actor-comedian-radio personality STEVE HARVEY, who emceed the event, suggested in an interview that any station targeting black listeners had a greater responsibility. "Radio has to be far more than playing the hits," HARVEY said before the show. "We're not just a boogie-down format. That doesn't move anyone's life forward. We have to dispense information, not just dispense a bunch of songs."