Urban One, Inc. – History Maker — August 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 14th, 2017

“History, when presented well, is transformative; it defines and interprets reality, it gives people hope, it makes us better. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History and Culture.”

Urban One, Inc. is the largest African American-owned broadcasting company in the U.S., and the largest radio broadcaster targeting Black listeners. Urban One, Inc., with holdings in radio, cable television, and digital media, owns and operates fifty-five radio stations in sixteen U.S. markets. Founder, Cathy Hughes, is the first Black woman to own a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Urban One ranked #9 on the 2016 Black Enterprise 100.

So why is Urban One not included in the National Museum for African American History and Culture? Before writing this article, I called the museum to ask Mr. Lonnie Bunch III that question but was unable to speak with him. I don’t know if he has a plan to include Urban One or not, but I truly hope he does. Meanwhile, many concerned listeners of the popular and highly acclaimed Carl Nelson Radio Show (1450AM WOL in Washington D.C. and www.woldcnews.com) have made calls and sent e-mails to Mr. Bunch to inquire about this glaring omission to Black History.

To be sure, this is not just about Urban One and Black history; this is about “Black business history” as well, for which I have advocated and taught for many years. Our young people and older ones too should know our entrepreneurial history. Black people in this country have been entrepreneurs since the 1700’s, despite the hardships they faced, and there are few things in our history that are more important than that.

Additionally, Black media have played such an important role in Black history. We have John Russwurm’s Journalism, David Walker’s Appeal, Frederick Douglass’ North Star Newspaper, Garvey’s Negro World, to Muhammad Speaks and The Final Call. Names such as Abbott, Sengstacke, Bogle, and John Johnson in print media, to radio stations like WDIA in Memphis, WCIN in Cincinnati, WERD in Atlanta, and radio personalities like Jack Cooper, Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, Dyanna Williams, Bob Law, and Gary Byrd, just to name a few. These media outlets are where many Black people actually learned our history.

Since the first “Black” radio station in 1948, to the first “Black-owned” radio station in 1949, we have seen many positive developments in Black media, not the least of which is Cathy Hughes’ rise to the pinnacle of her beloved industry. Determination, perseverance, tenacity, boldness, and sacrifice remain hallmarks of her journey toward continued success. She is a vital part of our history and is making even more history as we speak.

Howard University recently announced a multi-million dollar gift to its School of Communications from Alfred C. Liggins III, son of Cathy Hughes and President/CEO of Radio One, Inc., which led to the school being named in honor of Ms. Hughes, a former Howard University staff member. The “School of C,” from which my daughter graduated in 2015, is now the “Cathy Hughes School of Communications.” That accomplishment alone is an excellent reason for Urban One to be included in the National Museum for African American History and Culture.

Cathy Hughes has been and still is a “Quiet Storm” personified, in keeping with her radio show theme song early in her career. She has not been boisterous, self-aggrandizing, or selfish; she just went about her work building a business and preparing to leave a legacy rather than trying to be a legend. Her example is reflective of the “hope” in Mr. Lonnie Bunch’s quote at the beginning of this article. When visiting the museum our young entrepreneurs can derive “hope” from the Cathy Hughes chronicle. They will be buoyed by the strides Ms. Hughes made, in spite of the hardships, and some will take up the gauntlet to continue her legacy of excellence in business.

So why was Urban One omitted from the museum even after, as I was told, generously contributing to that edifice? I don’t know the answer, but I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Bunch for not including them in the inaugural year. However, the second year is upon us, and September must not arrive without Urban One having a prominent spot in the National “Black” museum.

As Mr. Lonnie Bunch said, “History, when ‘presented’ well, is transformative.” Cathy Hughes and Urban One have “transformed” the media landscape in this country, and Ms. Hughes has “presented” her history quite well. As the Curator of the museum—a Steward of Black history, Mr. Bunch should do whatever he can to “present” Urban One to the world.

If you want to help get Urban One included in the museum, please call Mr. Lonnie Bunch III, at (202)633-4751 and/or email him at NMAAHC-Director@SI.edu.



Under the Big Top – Featuring the Trump-pets — August 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 5th, 2017

The latest political circus is indeed the “Greatest Show on Earth.” Come one, come all! See the trained elephants, dancing, marching in perfect order, and balancing on relatively tiny stools, staying there until the ringmaster directs them to step down. There are monkeys doing all sorts of tricks, raging tigers that are made docile the moment the ringmaster puts his hand up. The fiercest among all the animals is one by the name of “Scary Moochie,” a roaring lion, always ready to tear someone’s head off. But even he has been tamed to slither off into a corner when ordered. What a circus!

The magician is amazing! Her name is Sarah “Huckster” Sanders; she makes facts disappear quicker than the eye can discern. Her talents are unlimited as she takes what the ringmaster says and turns it into something completely different, all the while saying she is “always honest” which, if that is true, means the ringmaster is lying. She performs exclusively in a small standing-room-only tent filled with reporters whom she treats like third-graders. She can tell them anything in answer to their questions, ignore them as she pleases, threaten them, and disappear in a heartbeat by abruptly walking out of the room, always leaving them wanting more. They never applaud for her performance though.

Then there are the cabinet clowns; they are so funny. They convened under the big top and made the entire world laugh by taking their individual turns to praise, laud, glorify, and thank the ringmaster for “blessing” them with the privilege and honor of being in his circus. Now that was really funny, strange but funny.

The trained dogs are especially hilarious. They jump through flaming hoops, run around in circles, jump on the back of the dog in front, and bark on command. They can push large heavy balls uphill on a narrow plank, and stand on their hind legs to beg the ringmaster for a treat. There is Spicer the Toy Poodle Lap Dog, Priebus the “blessed” Chiwawa, Conway the “alternative fact” Pit Bull, and Pence the Christian Bull Dog, who refuses to allow his professed morality stop him from salivating in response to his real “master,” Trump, otherwise known as Pavlov.

The dancing bears, Don Jr., Eric, and the Kushner’s are so cute and lovable, but upon closer observation the audience can see their ferocity, avarice, and their treacherous willingness to attack anyone on behalf of their “Trump-pet master.” Nothing is out of bounds for them; nothing is off the table. If they see something they want they take it, either by portraying their cuddly side or by activating their ferocious side.

The tightrope walkers and trapeze acts, comprising sycophants who just want to be in camera shot, even if it means falling, perform without safety nets; the trained seals do their balancing acts as well. They will lie, cheat, and distort reality right before our eyes; the main culprit in that group is Corey “…I have no clients whatsoever [in Ohio]” Lewandowski. It is a full-blown, three-ring circus, folks, whose purpose is to keep us amused and diverted from the important issues of our time.

The Trump circus characters have mad skills. Instead of a fire-eater there is a fire-breather named Stephen Miller. There are two court jesters to defend the ringmaster on CNN: Jeffery Lord, who has a Ronald Reagan séance each time he is on TV, and “Smiling Jack” Kingston, the former Congressman who cracks himself up trying to defend the indefensible. There are several strong men the ringmaster calls “My Generals,” an organ grinder and a dancing monkey named Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, a Trump-hater turned Trump-lover, named Nimrata “Nikki” Haley, who performs before the entire world, and there’s Chief of Security, Wayne LaPierre, just in case anyone in the audience gets too close to the performers.

The ringmaster, Donald Trump, is the Jim Henson of politics. Henson had his Muppets; Trump has his Trump-pets. He orchestrates his political circus with the aplomb of a master showman, reaching even into the hinterlands to entertain his Trump-pets in the remote corners of this nation. There are shows on a daily basis, and there is no admission fee.

Now let me give my disclaimer. I don’t have love for either political party, so please don’t think this is dump on Trump article. I’d write the same thing if Obama had carried on this way. Besides, I love a good circus every now and then. But I say Black people should follow the example of the UniverSoul Circus and establish our own political party and, thus, our own circus featuring our own performers. What say you? Meanwhile, watch my seat; I’m going to get some more cotton candy.



Contributing to one another — July 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 31st, 2017

What is so hard about sharing our money with one another? And when we do share, it’s for a moment; it’s not sustained. Any person who is relatively aware of how things get done in this world knows that whatever our goals, missions, or objectives, somewhere down the line it will take money to bring them to fruition. Understanding that, it is perplexing that many of us refuse to contribute to one another’s causes in any sustained manner as well as in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, many of us who give a few dollars, say $10.00 or $20.00, are the first ones who want a full report on what is being done with our money. And some who don’t give at all have the nerve to want the same information—from Black causes, of course. Yet they contribute to traditional organizations or causes and never ask for any accountability.

Immediately after the Million Man March in 1995, folks who didn’t even attend, were asking for an accounting of the funds we collected there. Can you imagine that?

Some say it’s a lack of trust for one another; I don’t know if I believe that entirely. I think it’s simply jealousy and/or that old bugaboo, “If I am not leading it, I am not going to help it.” What’s the issue with giving a few dollars to help your own people and ultimately to help yourself? As much money as we waste every day and spend willy-nilly with other groups, even if the cause to which we contribute is not fulfilled we won’t go broke. For me, it’s good to know that I did my part.

We are so good at counting the “potential” of our collective dollars. You have heard the various scenarios before, “If 10,000 people would give $100.00…” or “If one thousand people gave $1,000.00 each…” The biggest word in those prescriptions for our success is the smallest word: “If.”

I made one of those “if” statements in 2004 after visiting Piney Woods School in Mississippi. While there I heard that in 1954 Ralph Edwards, host of the TV show, “This is our life,” after interviewing Dr. Laurence Jones, Founder of Piney Woods, was so impressed that he asked his viewers to send at least $1.00 to the school. They raised $750,000!

Then here comes naïve Jim Clingman, saying if that much could be raised in 1954, we should be able to raise a million dollars in 2004. Silly me. I actually thought the 200,000 readers of my column would send $5.00 each, directly to Piney Woods, thus raising $1 million. I issued the call. We managed to raise a few thousand dollars but nowhere near a million.

Thereafter, I pressed forward with the goal of 200,000 persons to sign up as members of what I called the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club (BMDC), simply by adding their e-mail addresses to the BMDC Mail List on the my website and subscribe, at no charge, to the mailing list called “The Whirlwind.” Five times per year members would be asked to recommend recipients to which each member would send at least $5.00. It was just that simple; maybe it was too simple. No middleman, no administrative costs, just a postage stamp and a check.

All funds – let me say that again for all of you doubters and for those who are still fighting against the power of self-denial, all funds were sent directly to the recipient, not to me. One of our members even set up an online channel for making BMDC donations. What could be simpler and easier for those who were serious about supporting our own organizations and initiatives?

Most of the members sent far more than $5.00, (one sent $1,000.00 to a school we selected) even though that was all we asked for, $25.00 per year, brothers and sisters. How can we allow those “other” organizations to take money out of our paychecks before we see it and yet refuse to support our own organizations?

The BMDC never reached 200,000 members or $1 million dollar contributions, but we assisted several African-centered schools across the country, and one in Nigeria. We donated to the Haitian Relief Fund, the William Mayo Defense Fund, the D’zert Club, and various Black museums such as the Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee and the Harriet Tubman Museum and Home in Cambridge, Maryland and Auburn, New York, respectively.

Here’s the application. Two goals of “THE One Million” (see: www.iamoneofthemillion.com) are to help fund the initiatives of other conscious brothers and sisters and to create more “Conscious Millionaires.” If we could move beyond the silly barriers that prevent us from believing in our righteous causes and put a little money up, we could fund anything we want and move to full economic empowerment. See video (2007) on BMDC below.



Reciprocity in the Marketplace — July 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 22nd, 2017

We hear a great deal of discussion about the percentage of money Blacks spend with Black businesses versus how much we spend with White businesses—and others as well. It is said that 90%+ of Black dollars are spent at non-Black businesses. Obviously, that leaves about 10% for our businesses. What are we getting for that 90%? Blacks must drastically change our spending habits and/or leverage what we do spend.

The average annual revenue (sales) for Black owned businesses without employees is $58,000 and for those with paid employees it is $948,000, both of which are much lower than other so-called “Minority Groups.”

A report published by the U.S. Small Business Administration, titled, “Minority Business Ownership: Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners” by Michael McManus, Regulatory Economist, had this to say about Sales Disparities:

“Evaluating disparities using per-firm sales average shows the stark difference between minority and nonminority firms. It also highlights key variations between minority groups. For example, [Black]-owned firms average about $58,000 in sales per firm, while Hispanic firms generate two and a half times this amount; Asian-owned firms, 6 times as much; and nonminority-owned firms over 9 times this amount.”

One can reasonably extrapolate a couple of things from that point: Black businesses must grow to the point of being able to hire employees; and Black businesses need a great deal more support—from Black consumers as well as other consumers—to reach parity.

One other point of consideration is the industry in which we choose to start a business.
The report states, “While the number of minority-owned businesses is growing rapidly, disproportionate amounts are in the lowest 20 industries in terms of sales. In aggregate almost 58.9% of all African American-owned businesses are in the 20 lowest sales-generating industries…”

Finally, as I have cited many times, of the more than 2.6 million Black businesses only 111,000 have employees. Do the math and see why we must grow our businesses in order to make them more viable in the marketplace. In order to have more of our $1.2 trillion flowing through Black businesses we must have larger ones in more profitable industries. Make sense?

Now here’s the rub against us as consumers of Black products and services from Black entrepreneurs. Paradoxically, while we must have more sustained growth and we must venture into more scalable business ventures, many Black consumers are buying from other groups and some are even refusing to do business with Black firms, for one reason or another. Add that reality to the fact that other groups do not support our businesses to any great degree, which could be due in part to the industries we select, and Black business is stuck on a treadmill, expending a lot of energy without moving forward, multiplying but never growing.

Top all of this off with the fact that we hold our entrepreneurs to a higher standard than we hold others. We want reciprocity from them, and we want them to “give back,” which is quite reasonable and appropriate. However, we do not demand the same level of reciprocity from the other businesses that we support virtually every day. Don’t agree? Then tell me, where is the balance of our $1.2 “trillion” annual income when we deduct the $188 “billion” in annual revenues earned by Black businesses, not all of which comes from Black consumers?

Let’s face it, Black consumers could never spend all of our $1.2 trillion with Black owned businesses; we do not have enough businesses for that ideal to become a reality. We can certainly increase the amount we currently spend, but until we establish and grow more businesses, which will take at least a generation if we concentrate on it, we will continue to spend vast sums of money with businesses other than our own. So why are we not seeking reciprocity from them?

We must use collective leverage that can be given or withdrawn at a moment’s notice. Understanding that Black consumers cannot get around spending dollars with non-Black companies, the Collective Banking Group of Maryland, http://www.collectiveempowermentgroup.org/Partners.html and its local chapters, work with White owned and other companies, in mutually beneficial strategic partnerships, to obtain reciprocity. Banks, furniture stores, carpet stores, automobile companies, restaurants, movie theaters, supermarkets, and many other companies that profit from the Black dollar should reciprocate to their Black customers beyond sponsoring a dinner or a youth baseball team.

If we are going to spend tremendous sums of money with White owned, Indian owned, Chinese owned, and Arabic owned businesses, then it’s up to us to initiate and negotiate reciprocal agreements that benefit both groups. One side of that equation is already complete: We benefit them. Since we inevitably will keep spending our money with them, don’t you think we should complete the equation by getting some benefit ourselves?