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Atlanta Black radio stations unite to promote voting, registration, census

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Most key Atlanta radio stations targeting Black audiences have united for an initiative to encourage listeners to vote.

They plan to mobilize voter registration and educate listeners about the voting process in advance of the November 2020 election. They are also encouraging citizens to take part in the 2020 Census.

The initiative, dubbed Black Radio United for the Vote, features nine radio stations: Hot 107.9, V-103, Majic 107.5/97.5, Classix 102.9, Kiss 104.1, 1380/WAOK-AM, Streetz 94.5, OG 97.9 and Praise 102.5.

Hip/hop and R&B station V-103 and news/talk station WAOK are owned by Entercom. R&B station Kiss is owned by Cox Media Group. R&B station Majic, gospel station Praise, classic R&B station Classix and hip-hop station Hot are owned by Radio One. Hip-hop station Streetz is owned by Steve Hegwood’s Core Radio Group.

Classic hip-hop station OG 97.9, which isn’t on the original logo but said it’s going to participate, is owned by Cumulus Media.

Each station will dedicate three specific days focused on voting over the next three months. The first day will be July 23, with days set for August and September as well. They also plan to use social media and their websites to spread the word as well.

They are also partnering with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and its affiliates.

“This is a first for Black radio in Atlanta,” said Terri Avery, director of branding and programming for Kiss. “I’m excited about uniting with these heritage stations for the common goal of serving our communities.”

She said she came up with the idea after hearing from Andrew Young, the civil rights leader and former Atlanta mayor, who recalled that there was just one station for Black listeners in town in the 1960s. That made her think the only way to have a comparable impact now is to team up as many of the local stations as possible.

“We simply want to answer people’s questions and get people registered to vote,” she said.

Her usual rivals, she said, embraced the idea.

Atlanta has one of the most competitive and crowded markets for stations seeking Black listeners.

“Our goal is to put aside our competitive drive and put our energy into bringing our community together as one unified voice,” said Streetz owner Steve Hegwood.

Reggie Rouse, V-103 and WAOK program director, in a press release, noted how “radio plays a central role in the communities it serves.”

In this day of streaming and podcasts, traditional AM/FM radio remains a popular go-to place for Black listeners.

The coalition had not reached out to iHeartRadio, which owns hip-hop station The Beat at 105.3 and the new Black Information Network news station at 640/WBIN-AM. Emails to Dan Hunt, program director, and his boss Justin Schaflander, have not been returned.

Atlanta TV stations also placed competition on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic this spring. Gov. Brian Kemp held a town hall about the coronavirus hosted by anchors from all four local TV stations and simulcast on all the stations.

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