Patti Wenzel

An urban(e) voice returns

By - Jul 7th, 2010 10:27 am
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photo by Jean Djinni, via Flickr (CC)

In January Milwaukee lost its urban voice when WMCS 1290-AM took local talkers Joel McNally and Casandra Casandra off the air and replaced them with nationally syndicated shows.  At the time we decried the decision as “a huge blow for the dissemination of information in the African-American community and removes an alternative to the shrill, angry right-wing talk that dominates Milwaukee’s AM dial.”

That wrong has now been corrected, as Eric Von returns to the airwaves July 19 to host the resurrected “Morning Show” from 7-10 weekdays.

Von previously hosted “Morning Show” in the late 90’s until he left for Arizona in 2002. He returned to the station in 2004 to host the afternoon drive time. He left the air in 2009 amid budget cuts at the station.

Station management realized the mistake of firing McNally and Casandra after being deluged with emails, letters and calls demanding local talk be offered on WMCS. After months of scrambling, management found two corporate sponsors – Northwestern Mutual and Johnson Controls – to help offset the costs of having a live, local talker on the airwaves.

Von said in a press release that “Morning Magazine will be as it always has been: a source of reliable and relevant information. I look forward to getting back to work on the air and in the community where the needs are so great.”

As in the past, Von’s program will primarily focus on local and national issues that affect Milwaukee’s African-American community – black-on-black crime, teen pregnancy, high school dropout rates and unemployment – but in a way that will elicit opinions from all segments of the community.

“The key is relevant,” Von said. “They have to be issues that are relevant to our community.”

He also hopes his return will enhance the station’s position in the black community, as a source for news and talk, advertising and community involvement.

In January, Von said part of the problem with local, black talk radio was economics. He said the station was not able to impress upon black business owners to advertise on the station led to cost cutting and a search for less expensive alternatives. Von and station management insisted the decision at the time was economic, not racist.

“The color involved here isn’t black, it’s green,” he said.

Let’s hope Von’s urbane take on urban issues translates into lots of green to keep a multitude of voices talking in Milwaukee.

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