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As many of you know, the Bakewell family recently purchased a radio station in New Orleans with the call letters WBOK. In the radio business, WBOK is known as a heritage station. While I am way too young to remember, everyone tells me WBOK was the place to go for information on what was happening within the Black community. Well, my goal is to return it to its glory days. I am looking for it to be what the Sentinel is here in Los Angeles, a place for Black people to come and read (hear) what is going on in our community from our own perspective. This is a very exciting time for me as we get ready to re-launch the station. We have totally rebuilt the studio, adding in all new state-of-the-art equipment and constructed a brand new tower (the old one was damaged in Hurricane Katrina). We are also changing the stations’ format from traditional gospel music to an all Black talk format. Our motto is “Talk Back—Talk Black.”
Right now, in New Orleans I believe there is nothing more appropriate than an opportunity to bring a voice to the voiceless. With the purchase of WBOK I have logged thousands of miles traveling back and forth to New Orleans. And, while I am there I always get a chance to tour the city. (For those of you who did not know, I was actually born in New Orleans. I still have aunts, uncles, cousins, family and friends in New Orleans and my grandmother has only recently relocated to Baton Rouge since Katrina).
What outrages me, for those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit New Orleans, is that what you often see on T.V. is not the real New Orleans. The French Quarter is up and running. The Superdome will host a nationally televised football game kicking off the NFL season on Thursday, and everyone will feel all warm and fuzzy like once again, America has overcome. It has been two years since Hurricane Katrina. Since that time, how much money has been spent rebuilding these American lives? How much money has been spent rebuilding Iraq? When you compare the recovery of New Orleans to the rebuilding and recovery of New York City after 9/11 how is the money flowing? Well, these are the questions I want answered, and these are the answers that you, I and all of the residents of New Orleans deserve. Stay tuned— the info is forthcoming.
The truth is most African Americans in New Orleans have not overcome—they still live in trailers. There is trash and debris everywhere. On almost every and any block you go to in the city from Uptown to New Orleans East and everywhere in between (except the French Quarter) there are still vacant and abandoned houses. The 9th Ward still looks like a war zone somewhere in Iraq rather than a neighborhood in a major U.S. metropolitan city.
Instead of Mr. Bush going to visit the troops over in Iraq on Labor Day, he should have taken some time to leave his quaint little ranch in Texas and drive right on over the border to Louisiana, so he could see first-hand the forgotten Americans right next door. This is the conversation that needs to be going on here in America. While I support our soldiers over in Iraq and Afghanistan (I have friends fighting over there as I write this letter), I believe America has a bigger obligation to take care of home first. I would even be willing to bet, that the majority of soldiers over in Iraq would rather be helping re-build America than rebuilding Iraq.
Well, this conversation is the very reason, WBOK Radio and the Sentinel for that matter exist. It is why Black media is so important, because only Black media can and will tell the story in our own words. We will talk to the masses about the things that are said in our living rooms, in our barber and beauty shops and the things we carry in our hearts but no one else is willing to say.
So, keep reading the Sentinel, (and with online capability listen to WBOK..... coming soon). Let’s keep putting the issues that are relevant to you and me at the forefront of the American agenda. And lets keep “Talking Back and Talking Black.”So, whether you agree or disagree, now more than ever I really need your input. I need to hear from you. I need to know what is going on in our community. I also need to know what other stories we need to tell, and what is on your mind. I really do want to hear from you, I want you to “Talk to Danny.”
Sincerely,Danny J. Bakewell, Jr.President & Executive Editor