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Thursday, February 9, 2023

After 40 years in broadcasting, I’m still getting kicked off the bus

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I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this week.

Forty years ago this last week, in April of 1975; I arrived in Indianapolis to start working in media at WTLC Radio.

At 40 years, I currently claim the title of the African-American journalist with the longest current tenure in Indianapolis radio or television.

(Many think the legendary Barbara Boyd held the record for African-American longevity in Indianapolis media, but she served proudly at RTV6 for 25 years.)

However, I don’t hold the overall longevity record for an African-American in Indianapolis media.

That record belongs to the Stewart family who owned the Indianapolis Recorder for 89 of its 120 years. The individual record holder for Black media longevity is held by Marcus Stewart Sr., the Recorder editor who was with this newspaper for 59 years.

The person of color with the longest tenure in Indianapolis broadcasting, 52 years, is Charles Haines. By the way, Haines is also believed to be the first African-American employed full time at any American television station.

The Stewart family and Charles Haines were the longevity trailblazers for me and scores of other African-Americans who have and currently work in Indianapolis media.

Media today has become like many American industries where getting to stay in your same career or the same employer for decades has sadly become an anachronism.

Those of us who’ve survived over the years by building institutional knowledge, community ties and equity in the media business are becoming as hard to find as ethics in the Indiana State Legislature.

If there’s good news, there’s some African-Americans at Indy’s mainstream TV stations and Black and mainstream radio stations who’ve served their stations and Indianapolis for over 20 years; with a few serving over 30 years.

Unfortunately, the Indianapolis media with the poorest record of retaining veteran African-Americans is the mainstream print media; especially the Indianapolis Star.

Now I’m not done yet with my career, so this isn’t a valedictory column.

There’s things I still want to accomplish in a career where I’ve had more than my share of groundbreaking broadcasts and community initiatives.

But the milestone’s a good time to remind (or educate) publicists, PR folks, government officials, agencies, civic leaders and even politicians that like other Indy media mainstays, I’ve more than paid my dues and earned my stripes in Indy media.

I look forward to what the next few years will bring.

What I’m Hearing in the Streets

The lame duck Ballard Administration continues their 88 month practice of disrespecting African-American elected officials and African-American media.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited Indianapolis last Thursday announcing that Indy would be one of seven cities in a new DOT pilot program called LadderSTEPS. It’s an interesting concept that melds community-based resources for specific transit and transportation projects.

Transit advocates, government officials and community leaders gathered for a breakfast at the Children’s Museum and a tour with Foxx of the proposed Red Line bus mass transit route. Foxx, Mayor Greg Ballard and the group rode the route on two shiny, clean IndyGo buses through the Mapleton-Fall Creek and Midtown neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, IndyGo, transit advocates and the Mayor’s Office pointedly refused to invite any of the City-County Councilors representing those neighborhoods or other key Black community leaders. An Indianapolis Star and WTHR/Channel 13 reporter were invited to attend the breakfast and tour. Black media were deliberately excluded from the ride and the table.

But we saw the usual Ballard disrespect of shutting out Black leaders and Black media from attending events with an African-American member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

Also, reading about the LadderSTEPS plan, there’s no mention of inclusion of minority-owned, especially African-American owned, businesses or consultants in the project. Why?

At-Large City-County Councilman Leroy Robinson, locked in a Democratic primary battle with three-term Councilwoman Angela Mansfield, is waging an unusual campaign. He’s avoided talking to a key African-American organization and wouldn’t be interviewed on Black radio.

Because the Legislature outlawed Indy’s At-Large seats in that heinous Bill 621, first termer Robinson moved into the Council District 1, which includes the northern half of Pike Township and northwestern Washington Township. Recently, Concerned Clergy invited both District 1 candidates to stop by and talk about their platforms and issues. Mansfield appeared while Robinson did not.

Earlier, Robinson turned down two invitations to appear on “Afternoons with Amos,” while Mansfield appeared last Thursday.

I’ve come to expect some Republican candidates to diss Black media, but not African-American candidates, especially Democrats.

Robinson’s primary campaign strategy is odd and inexplicable.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Friday on our WTLC-AM (1310) “Afternoons with Amos” that state law and professional rules governing prosecutors prevent him from releasing video of that fatal police action shooting of Mack Long April 12.

While I respect Curry’s views, he should ask for guidance from the Indiana Supreme Court to allow the video to be publicly viewed, if for no other reason than to calm community apprehensions.

See ‘ya next week!

You can email Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.

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