Pres. Obama talks to V-103's Ryan Cameron to drum up the vote

Ryan Cameron and Wanda Smith at "For Sisters Only" earlier this month. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Pres. Barack Obama may be a pariah on the election trail for many political candidates given his low approval ratings. (Senatorial hopeful Michelle Nunn isn't avoiding Obama compared to a lot of her Democratic brethren, but Republican opponent David Perdue is running copious ads trying to besmirch her by airing ads showing a photo of her with Obama.)

But African Americans still overwhelmingly support him. So Obama is making the rounds of radio shows that target blacks in an effort to drum up the vote.

He recently did  interviews with syndicated shows Rickey Smiley (heard locally on Hot 107.9), Yolanda Adams (heard locally on Praise 102.5) and Steve Harvey (heard locally on Majic 107.5/97.5). Collectively, those three personalities draw millions of listeners.

But Obama went for a more targeted audience this morning by talking with Ryan Cameron on V-103. Cameron's top-rated show is the only local non-syndicated radio show in Atlanta that is geared to a black audience.

The president not only encouraged listeners to vote but also reminded listeners to get their flu shot.

Obama said he still has plenty to do with two more years in office (attempting to refute the lame-duck effect that befalls most second-term presidents). He would like to raise the minimum wage, push for fair gender wages and rebuild infrastructure. He said he needs a Congress that will be more cooperative to pass such bills. Losing the Senate would not help matters for him. (The House is currently Republican run and that won't change come November. It has not been terribly kind to Obama's agenda the past four years and it won't get any easier.)

"Michelle Nunn will win the Senate if there's a high turnout among Democrats," Obama told Cameron. "If there's low or ordinary turnout, she won't win... If folks in Georgia vote at the same rate in the midterms as they do in the presidential election, Michelle Nunn will win."

Obama noted that fewer than half of registered Georgia voters vote during the mid-term elections.

"When you think about the tradition of Georgia, when you think about Dr. King and you think about John Lewis and you think about what the civil rights movement meant in Georgia, the notion that less than half of your people vote doesn't make any sense whatsoever."

Cameron ended the conversation noting how he had a photo taken with the president last year but the president asked him for a re-take because Cameron's jacket was "all jacked up." Cameron didn't think the prez would remember but he did.

"You gotta look sharp in the pictures, man!' Obama told Cameron.

"We were scheduled for eight minutes," Cameron said to me after the interview. But Obama spoke for about 15. "It turned into a really good time," the morning host said. "We were excited he stayed on longer."

Cameron noted that Gov. Nathan Deal has never spoken to V-103 a single time since he became governor. He said the station plans to offer invites to Deal, his opponent Jason Carter, Nunn and Perdue to speak directly to their audience. (V-103, although its ratings aren't what they were a year ago, still draws about 1 million viewers in a given week.)

"We talk about black apathy," Cameron said after the Obama interview. "This is a chance to swing the pendulum." He encouraged people to go to the polls on Sunday when they have no excuse about work or child care of whatever. "If you don't take advantage of Sunday voting, it's going to be your fault what happens in this state."

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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