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Black Rockers Fight Against Music Industry Stereotypes

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HOST: And now to a totally different kind of music — punk rock and hard rock. In the midst of their popularity in the 1980s came the Black Rock Coalition. African American musicians and artists in New York founded the group in 1985. For a while it really helped some Black bands make it big. But Lance Dixon reports that changes in the music industry have made it harder for Black musicians to be seen beyond their skin color.

NARR: When the Black Rock Coalition began in 1985, its flagship band was Living Colour. They stormed onto the scene with their hit song, “Cult of Personality.”

[Fade in “Cult of Personality” to a bed that fades out until first WILLIAMS ACT]

It hit #13 on the Billboard charts and won the group a Grammy in 1990. Living Colour’s Vernon Reid was one of the founders of the coalition and Gene Williams is currently the artistic director of the New York chapter. He watched a recent Living Colour performance on YouTube and was shocked that some commenters on the video didn’t identify them as a Black group.

GENE WILLIAMS: They didn’t even know Living Colour was black. They see Corey up there and they’re like, oh my God he’s black!?

He says the fact that people are shocked, decades later, is a part of why the Black Rock Coalition or BRC was founded in 1985. Their goals were to seek chances for Black artists to perform, record and be paid fairly.

WILLIAMS: When we started we needed an outlet for musicians to have venues that weren’t really provided for us at the time.

Eventually they were able to find places to play. And building off the fame of Living Colour, the BRC gained momentum and allowed for other bands to follow suit. BRC co-founder Greg Tate says it also allowed them to assert their Blackness.

GREG TATE: We chose the name Black Rock Coalition because we knew if you put Black in front of anything it immediately becomes kind of terrifying to certain folks.

Jimi Hazel is the lead guitarist of another BRC band–24-7 Spyz and he says that given the history of rock and roll, the idea of Black people playing it shouldn’t be so surprising.

HAZEL: Black people don’t rock. Hello? We’ve been rocking since the fifties, we invented it.

Of course, rock and roll came out of blues music. Black artists like Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix rocked in the 50s and 60s. Guitarists that followed them moved into funk bands like Sly and the Family Stone and Funkadelic with large Black followings. But, once disco arrived, Hazel says it became more about dance tracks and not live shows.

HAZEL: That’s really when the disconnect happens between Black people and rock music. Because now rock it just went back to being predominantly a white thing, except for a handful of black bands. But, they weren’t being supported by their own people.

Gene Williams says today there are even fewer places for bands to play in New York.

WILLIAMS: We lost a lot of great venues, we don’t have CBGB’s anymore, we don’t have Danceteria, we don’t have the places that we started at.

Greg Tate who, along with his BRC work, is a long-time music journalist says the real problem is what he calls “progressive racism” in the music industry.

TATE: There’s still a desire to keep Black musicians in their place.

Tate says this racism means corporate executives still tell Black musicians that they can’t sell them as artists.

TATE: You know, they were telling people that in 1985 when we started, and they’re kind of still telling people that 30 years later.

The Black Rock Coalition’s membership today is mainly built on the older acts who are still rocking, but mainly at the occasional benefit concert. Still, there are younger supporters of the movement.

[Fade in Earl Greyhound song “Shotgun” to a bed and fade out before THOMAS ACT]

Earl Greyhound was a rock trio that debuted in the largely-white alternative rock scene seven years ago.Bassist and vocalist Kamara Thomas and drummer Ricc Sheridan were the black members of the group. Thomas says when the band was looking for a new deal, label executives weren’t sure of what to do with them.

KAMARA THOMAS: Labels still had this kind of idea about how you market music and how it’s gotta be divided into all these categories. And you market r&b to black people and rock to white people.

There have been some noteworthy crossover exceptions since Living Colour. Black rock artists like Lenny Kravitz in the nineties and bands like TV on the Radio more recently. But, Darrell McNeil, operations director for the New York BRC, thinks it’s not enough.

MCNEIL: We can have a black president, but we can’t have a black superstar rock and roller outside of say like a Lenny Kravitz. He’s the guy who kind of gets the pass. But, he’s the only guy who’s getting the pass.

But maybe Kravitz is starting to be joined in the mainstream by some good company.

[Fade in Gary Clark Jr. song “Numb” to a bed until MCNEIL ACT]

Gary Clark Jr. is a rising star in the industry, Tate says he’s been able to find success due to his look, charisma and the popularity of blues-rock bands like The Black Keys. His debut album Blak and Blu peaked at #6 on the Billboard charts last year. McNeil says Clark is embodying  the Black Rock Coalition’s mission.

MCNEIL: In a lot of respects I look at him as kind of an ambassador as to the different things that can happen for a black artist if you put together your audience the right way. 

[“Numb” fades in as a bed through SOC and end of piece.]

And with another potential crossover Black rocker on the rise, the BRC can continue to fight for a fair shot.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News.

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Is New York Mayoral Candidate John Liu’s Campaign Over?

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HOST INTRO: Two of mayoral candidate John Liu’s former associates, Jenny Hou and Oliver Pan, have been found guilty of wire fraud and obstruction of justice. Lance Dixon spoke with Brigid Bergin, WNYC’s City Hall reporter, and she says everybody wants to know if his campaign is over.

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News at the Half-Hour

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Jay-Z Won’t Own The Nets, But He’s Not Going Anywhere

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HOST: The Nets are headed to the playoffs for the first time in six years, and after their first year in Brooklyn. But they will be moving on without minority owner Jay-Z, who is moving into sports management and selling his share in the team to become a sports agent. Lance Dixon reports. 

NARR: On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 hit song “In Paris,” Jay-Z boasts that the Nets could lose all of their games and he’d still be content with the money he’s making.

(Fade in “In Paris” after “he’s making” then fade out.)

The team has won many more than zero games. They won 49 and clinched the 4th seed a week ago against the Indiana Pacers. But their success hasn’t stopped the Brooklyn native from moving to another business venture. He announced a new marketing company earlier this month, Roc Nation Sports. It’s a partnership with entertainment and sports management firm Creative Artists Agency.  He signed his first client earlier this month–New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

But, to represent NBA players, he’ll have to sell his share in the team that he’s been invested in for a decade. The rapper owns less than one percent of the team, but his influence has been huge. He pushed for years for the move to his home borough and was reportedly deeply involved in the team’s rebranding and marketing. The Nets now have the 4th largest selling jersey in the league. Jay also placed his 40/40 nightclub in the Barclays Center. New York Times basketball writer, Howard Beck, thinks that creative imprint will outlast the rapper’s official stake in the team.

BECK: I think if Jay-Z is no longer a part owner, but his club is still part of  Barclays Center and his Rocawear store is still part of Barclays Center. To the public’s perception it’s as if he still has strong business affiliation with them and he will.

Jay-Z says he plans to keep his courtside seats to Nets games, and Beck says that his presence will be just as beneficial as his marketing ideas.

BECK: If Jay-Z remains a fan and a guy who’s gonna wear a Nets jersey in concert and to awards shows or wherever else for branding purposes, or for popularity’s sake, for just connecting with potential fans I think that all remains.

(Fade in Barclays ambi after “Outside” to a bed then fade out after VERNON act.)

Outside of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after a win versus the Washington Wizards, Nets fan Cornell Carelock says he doesn’t view the move as disloyal. He thinks Jay succeeded with the plan he had all along.

CARELOCK: He wanted people to invest in this Brooklyn team, and people that are close by and are gonna be committed fans they’ll do their part in helping to boost this team. 

Henry Vernon says he lives down the street from Barclays and plans to continue his support of the team. He appreciates how easy it is for him to attend games thanks in part to Jay-Z.

VERNON: I used to go all the way out to Jersey to the games, so being that I get on the 3 train–I’m home in 10 minutes, man. So, you know, I don’t have a problem with him at all and I don’t think anybody else will.

No matter what anyone thinks, Jay-Z is moving on. Even though he hasn’t represented athletes before, he has represented and managed artists with his label Roc Nation, ranging from Shakira to Santigold. And he served for three years as president and CEO of Def Jam Records where he helped launch the careers of Rihanna and Ne-Yo. Jordan Kobritz teaches sports management at the State University of New York at Cortland. He thinks that experience could make the transition easy for the rapper.

KOBRITZ: He’s negotiated and been involved in negotiations in big time entertainment deals, so he isn’t exactly a novice to this entire concept.

And his role in Roc Nation Sports is similar to the one he had with the Nets. While he has a larger ownership stake in this case, he isn’t officially a sports agent yet. He’s the big name to represent the brand and create interest, a role Kobritz says he thrives in.

KOBRITZ: He has an instant recognition factor and even some sort of rapport, if you will, with an athlete, so it’s not like he’s actually starting from scratch like some other individual who wants to become an agent.

Jay may still face some problems moving forward. He’s signed a baseball player, but the NFL Players Association has requirements for agents who want to represent their players. These include a bachelors and post graduate degree, passing a certification test and attending training courses. But, if Jay wants to continue to serve as just a star recruiter, and let his partners at the Creative Artists Agency handle things, Kobritz thinks he’ll find success for now.

KOBRITZ: In the short term, he’s affiliating with others who are licensed and do have experience, so I don’t think in the short run it’s going to be a major concern.

And even if major issues arise, when it comes to business moves he will probably do as his 2009 song says and just move on to the next one.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News.

(Fade in “On to the Next One” after SOC then fade out.)

 

 

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Jazz Music Finds Love Among The Younger Generation

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HOST INTRO:

Jazz almost seems like a prehistoric form of music, especially for twenty-somethings. But Commentator Lance Dixon discovered he had been a fan since childhood. He just didn’t realize it.

 

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College Conferences Trade Tradition For TV Cash

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HOST INTRO: The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament continues tonight. Last night was a good one for the Big East Conference, with Syracuse upsetting top-seeded Indiana and Marquette knocking off Miami. The Big East has been a powerhouse. But this will be the last season of the Big East as fans know it. Lance Dixon reports on the latest realignments among conferences in college sports conference.

(Fade in game sound after “Anthony,” fades up then out after crowd cheers.)

NARR:

Syracuse has been one of the final 16 teams in the tournament 21 times, and in
2003 the Orange went all the way and won a championship, led by current New
York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.

Connecticut, Georgetown and Louisville from the Big East have done the same.
Despite that, the conference is breaking up.

SAUER:

The Big East has been unstable for some time. You’ve had a lot of schools jumping
ship. Getting ahead of the situation. (:09)

That’s Clemson University economist, Raymond Sauer. He says the Big East
started changing in the mid-2000s. Four schools known for football success:
Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College—all left the Big East for
the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now, a group of schools called the Catholic 7
have decided they want out, too. Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Providence,
Seton Hall, Villanova and St. John’s have signed a 12-year $500 million contract
with Fox Sports. Sauer says the schools couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

SAUER:

In the athletic departments these days they’re trading in tradition and history and
rivalries of the moment for dollars from the television contracts. (:11)

It’s not just happening in the Big East. The University of Maryland is moving to
the Big 10 conference after being a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference
since 1953. Estimates say the move will earn the school about $100 million by
the year 2020. These deals may sound lucrative, but Sauer says they may not
be.

SAUER:

You look at the top line in terms of revenue and you say, “Yeah ok, that’s great.”
But when you think about the travel costs, and the travel schedules and the fan
interest it might not add up in the end and be a smart economic decision. (:14)

Travel costs will be a factor in the new Big East as most of the remaining schools
are in the northeast, but the latest additions are Creighton from Nebraska, Xavier
in Ohio and Butler in Indiana. Conference officials say it’s all being done in the
name of basketball, the sport in which the Big East made its name. And where
Sauer says most of the money comes from.

SAUER:

You know, the negotiations are between the basketball coach—or the coach of
the revenue sport as it were—the athletic director and the TV networks. And
swimming, diving or wrestling or baseball, they’re pretty much afterthoughts. (:15)

(Fade in ambi of baseball practice slightly after “sees it,” then fades a bit louder and
remains.)

That’s not the way the head coach of St. John’s baseball team sees it.

Ed Blankmeyer’s team won the conference championship last year. This year,
they’re only 9-15, but the coach is optimistic about setting up a new baseball
identity for the conference.

BLANKMEYER:

The three schools they brought in are good baseball schools. The number is small
in seven now—seven baseball schools. But, I think this conference and many of the
other sports has to evolve. (:13)

Blankmeyer expects more change.

BLANKMEYER:

I’m disappointed in leaving some of the old-time rivals, but conference alignment or
realignment if you will, I don’t think it’s gonna end. There’s more to come. (:10)

Clemson economist Raymond Sauer agrees. He says these changes aren’t so
crazy, but their frequency over the past few years is unique. As fans continue
to root for their favorite teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, they
may have to prepare to see them in a new conference if their schools think the
money’s right.

Lance Dixon. Columbia Radio News.

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Yankees Fans Resigned to Rivera’s Retirement

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HOST:

New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire
after this season. His announcement signals what could be the end of an era of Yankees domination.
Lance Dixon spoke to New Yorkers about what the announcement might mean for the future of the
Bronx Bombers. (:14)

(“Enter Sandman” fades in after 1999, fades out after bed.)

It started in the summer of 1999. That was when Mariano Rivera first started entering Yankees games
in the ninth inning to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” He had a calm demeanor as he would strut out to
the pitcher’s mound and over 600 times he helped guarantee the Yankees’ opponents were put to bed.
After 18 years that career will be coming to an end, and not only Yankee fans are paying respect. (:22)

FRANCO:

Mariano Rivera’s probably the greatest closer of all time, in baseball, even being a Met fan I can
recognize that. (:07)

That’s Gerardo Franco, a cab driver, who says Rivera and the other players that made their debut for
the team in 1995 like shortstop Derek Jeter and former catcher Jorge Posada were throwbacks—they
weren’t big free agents, they came up through the minor leagues. Franco says that despite the Yankees’
wealth, you can’t just buy talent like that. (:18)

FRANCO:

Those guys they were the heart of the team, that’s the one thing that the Yankees had a real strong
foundation. But, I don’t see them winning anything for at least another ten years. (:09)

Long-time Yankees fans, like Anthony Mendez, said Thursday’s reports about Rivera were not
completely shocking. (:06)

MENDEZ:

I expected it. I really did, I mean he’s 43 years old. (:03)

Mendez suspects that Rivera would’ve called it quits in 2012 if the closer hadn’t torn his ACL catching
balls in the outfield and missed the rest of that year. (:08)

MENDEZ:

If he would’ve not gotten injured, I think it would’ve been his last year. (:03)

Even though Rivera’s final season seems to be here, Mendez doesn’t think that rallying around the
record-setting closer will be enough to push the the Yankees to a title. (:08)

MENDEZ:

I really, I don’t expect much from the team. I know they’ll compete and they’re still the Yankees. So if
anything goes down they’ll probably pick up a replacement somewhere in a big trade or something.
(:09)

Replacement players may eventually help the Yankees deal with their injury concerns and an aging
roster on the field, but replacing a figure like Rivera may prove tougher. Yankees fan, Daniel Ayata,
recalls attending the game when the pitcher got his 602nd career save, breaking the all-time record.
(:16)

AYATA:

I’ve been at the stadium plenty of times and the crowd gets loud. But, that was one of the loudest
crowds I’ve seen and witnessed and I was lucky to be there. (:09)

Whether the Yankees win a title or not, fans in the Bronx will have the chance to watch a future Hall-of-
Famer for at least one more season.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News. (:10)

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Pistorius Case Rekindles Familiar Narrative

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HOST:

It’s been two weeks since Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The circumstances that led to the tragedy are still under investigation. The case has prompted a broader discussion  about the problems of  other athletes, and the guns and mental trauma that may lead to domestic violence. Lance Dixon reports.

REPORTER:

Whether Oscar Pistorius purposely intended to kill his girlfriend or not remains uncertain for now.
But, his case raises greater questions about other high-profile athletes involved in incidents of violent
behavior. Sports psychologist Sara Hickmann has worked with the New York Jets and she says that if
athletes are more prone to these behaviors it might have to do with their celebrity status. (:20)

SARA HICKMANN: “It’s more about abusing power and control, and the mentality of, “I own you, you
are here to serve me. I need to call the shots I’m going to do things how I want to. If you push back I’m
going to inflict pain on you and put you back in your place.” (:16)

There are plenty of examples of athletes involved in violence off the field. Like former New England
Patriots receiver, and occasional reality TV star, Chad Johnson, who arrested for allegedly head-
butting his wife. Or Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. He has a history of disputes with former
girlfriends and even his wife allegedly leading to stabbing and choking incidents and more. Nearly all
the charges in these cases were eventually not filed, dropped or reduced. Hickmann says that kind of
impunity is not uncommon. (:29)

HICKMANN:

“I think often times the consequences are not appropriate or proportionate to the offense and it’s
harder for them to learn, oh this is probably not a good idea, because they haven’t had the same
consequences as the average person.” (:15)

If the athletes own guns the stakes are higher. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was ordered to
give up his seven guns last year after he allegedly punched his girlfriend and dragged her on the ground.
In a separate incident only 11 days later, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his
girlfriend and then committed suicide. Hickmann says that when players she works with are charged
with domestic violence, specific questions arise. (:25)

HICKMANN:

“Do you have a gun? Do you have a weapon? Do you feel that’s the best thing for you right now while
you’re working through the way you think about your relationship?” (:08)

In suicide cases, brain trauma can be a factor. As it was with retired linebacker Junior Seau who
committed suicide last May. He was found to be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or
CTE, a disease caused by multiple blows to the head and concussive damage. CTE expert, Dr. Julian
Bailes, says other problems are usually involved when CTE leads to suicide. (:22)

JULIAN BAILES:

“Those problems are often failed businesses, failed marriages, failed finances, and then it goes on to
include things like depression and often alcohol or substance abuse, cognitive impairment and many
end in suicide.” (:15)

Hickmann notes that the competitive nature of sports can lead to aggressive behavior off the field, but
Bailes says that the competitive nature is not just exclusive to athletes. (:09)

BAILES:

“Everybody who’s in a competitive environment probably feels certain pressures and stresses and a
need to perform. So I think that regardless of what sport you’re in or even what profession you’re in.
Some of these are natural aspects of human behavior.” (:15)

We won’t know for sure what Pistorius did that night until his trial begins in June. But, we do know he
was extremely competitive as a double-amputee and that’s why he was celebrated by so many.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News. (:14)

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City Recieves Nearly $300 Million in Sandy Relief

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President Obama signed the Hurricane Sandy relief bill into law a few weeks ago and now the relief is showing its initial benefits. Now, nearly $300 dollars worth of funding from the Department of Transportation is on its way.

Lance Dixon has the story:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Senator Chuck Schumer gave a press conference today at the Downtown Heliport only a few feet away from the Brooklyn Battery tunnel—one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. $250 million is coming to New York and Schumer says it is right on time.

“The quick federal aid means that taxpayers will not bear the burden, many of the dollars that the city and the counties of Nassau and Suffolk had to lay out, they’re now getting reimbursed for,” he said.

The counties are now better positioned to continue the long process of recovery and planning for future usage.

“Now that they’ve been reimbursed, they can use those dollars to start doing other repairs that are needed,” Schumer said.

The repairs include repairing the infrastructure of all transit-related groups such as subways, bus terminals and other hubs that continue to reel from the damage of Superstorm Sandy. LaHood says this initial aid is part of $2 billion that the DOT has at its disposal to aid the city on a rolling basis. The two agree that this aid is arriving at a much quicker pace than it did after Hurricane Katrina because of federal emphasis.

“The President said get the money out there. Get the job done. Get people to work. And let’s rebuild, it’s really the President pushing this. It is, no question,” LaHood said.

The $60 billion Sandy bill will eventually disperse funds related to relieving homeowners, small businesses and hospitals. And in May, a city report will be released determining the most effective plans for future funds and rebuilding efforts.

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