THE CONNECTION: Don't Just Let it Happen... MAKE IT HAPPEN

  • As the calendar turns another year, a disturbing milestone has crossed us in the realm of Black Media.  An article in the New Pittsburgh Courier indicates that the last Black-owned television stations have been sold, leaving us with no representation in the most influential medium in this country.  Well, its only influential if you allow your mind to just think that regular, over-the-air TV is the answer to everything.  The explosion of video technology on the Internet proves this notion otherwise, but you wouldn't know it consider how popular programs like "Love and Hip-Hop" and "Scandal" are.  Yes, Blacks populate the scene in front of the camera, but who's controlling the message?  Yes, a Black woman may have written "Scandal", but where is the influence coming from in the script or whatever version makes it to TV? 

    Controlling what goes over the airwaves is important to portraying the so-called 'positive images' many in our community have been clamoring for in the past two generations, but if we don't control the means to control the message, then we are fed whatever someone else's image of us is... and more often than not, it isn't very flattering.  What does that mean for you as an African-American sportscaster?  It means now more than ever, not only do you have to sharpen the skills that make you who you are, but you also have to find ways to market yourself OUTSIDE of the traditional realm of opportunities.  Most professionals in the field today are starting out with their own local entities, whether it is play by play of local high schools or their own Internet-based talk show.  The common denominator is that they OWN THE MESSAGE: no one directs them to fit a certain style or audience.  Their message is what it is and whoever likes it, likes it.  Don't expect to be picked up by the majors right away if you go this route, but the rewards in being your own outlet can be very rewarding.  I should know: I've helped run an outlet the past 18 years that has garnered the respect of major media in Chicago.  But I've also stayed true to our mission: to help those who want to play the game at the next level do so.  Have Derek Rose, Kelvyn Hayden, Amanda Thompson and Cappie Pondexter thank me later.

    Before closing, I'd like to take this time to invite you to join our Heritage Sportscasting Exchange group on LinkedIn.  If you haven't already signed up for a LinkedIn account, do so and search 'Heritage Sportscasting Exchange', or just join and search for me, link up with me and I'll send you a personal invite.  The website for the HSE talent service for African-American sportscasters officially opens January 20.  If you missed the previous edition of the connection, click here to see archives of previous columns.

    Until we meet again, always remember that YOU are the connection to the next generation of greatness.

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