Local activist wants R. Kelly concert nixed, music dropped from Atlanta radio

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

This was posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

After a blockbuster enterprise piece in Buzzfeed alleged that R&B star R Kelly has been keeping women as sex slaves in a "cult," a local woman began pressuring Atlanta radio stations to stop playing his music and Wolf Creek Amphitheater to cancel his upcoming concert.

As part of a #MuteRKelly campaign, the petition notes: "We are INCENSED--given Atlanta's place as the  SEX TRAFFICKING CAPITAL OF THE US-- that the Fulton County Board of Commissioners Office   would issue a contract with promoter, Live Nation, to host R. Kelly at the Wolf Amphitheater on August 25, 2017!"

The petition has attracted about 800 names as of Tuesday, August 1. Another petition pressuring Sony to drop him from its label has collected nearly 35,000 names.

Oronike Odeleye, managing director of Atlanta arts organization Creative Currents Artist Collaborative, said there have been allegations and accusations against R. Kelly regarding young women for many years.  He married 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994, but the marriage was quickly annulled. Years, later he was indicted on child pornography charges but was found not guilty by a jury.

"The courts haven't been able to do anything," Odeleye said. "It really kind of came to me. If we are going to shut this man down, we're going to have to take things into our own hands."

So far, Odeleye has had no luck getting the Atlanta concert nixed, but the R&B singer has cancelled at least four concerts without explanation: Los Angeles, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La., and Dallas. TMZ said ticket sales were slow, and a recent Virginia Beach concert was barely half full.

Three local radio stations -- Kiss 104.1, V-103 and Majic 107.5/97.5 -- played R. Kelly songs over the past week, according to Mediabase 24/7, which tracks radio airplay.

Fifteen songs featuring R. Kelly were spun, including "Happy People" eight times, "Step in the Name of Love" and "It Seems Like You're ready" both six times and "Ignition" five times. Kiss played him 19 times, Majic 18 times and V-103 five times. In total, you could hear him about once every four hours on Atlanta radio.

Majic program director Derek Harper said as long as Kelly hasn't been convicted of anything, he didn't feel right pulling R. Kelly's songs. "If and once he's convicted, then we'd have a different conversation," he said in an interview with me. He was the only program director to speak to Odeleye directly.

Tony Kidd, who oversees Kiss, declined to comment. He responded to Odeleye: "Thank you for the email. We will keep an eye on this situation."

Reggie Rouse , program director at V-103, didn't respond to my inquiry but did send Odeleye this note acknowledging that the station has talked about the R. Kelly issue extensively but has no plans to boycott his music:

Thank you for your email. We respect your organization's position on this topic and appreciate you sharing your viewpoint. As a local radio station, one of our goals is to play the music our listeners want to hear, however, doing so does not mean that we endorse or support any individual's actions or decisions. As it relates to covering the news and updates of urban music and artists, we present the stories and encourage listeners to decide for themselves what they listen to, watch, read, whom they support and whom they don't. To that end, our coverage of this story has included an interview with the Savage family on V103.

Kiss 104.1 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both part of Cox Media Group.