With all of the investigations and fines being levied lately by New York State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, consumers are learning a simple fact about the music that they hear on radio all across the country. What plays is not about what music is good, it’s about what music the people playing the songs are paid to play. Although Attorney General Spitzer’s investigation has proved how widespread Payola is in New York State, the problem is nationwide and no state is exempt. The evidence is now clear “nothing gets on the air for free.” Payola has always been around but now it’s out of control, resulting in less choices of songs and music artist, and the playing of the same music in every region. It’s not listener choice when Los Angeles’ number one Hip-Hop station POWER 106, plays its’ number one song 140 times in a 148-hour week.
After working at BET and the top three radio companies for over 20 years in New York and Wash., DC. Nobody is more qualified to tell the story of payola than Paul Porter. For more than 2 decades, Paul Porter has been a prominent voice in American radio and television. From AT&T to Showtime, his baritone voice and on-camera talent has been recognized in over a half-dozen top venues, while his personality has resonated on the airwaves of numerous radio stations, and as the announcer for seven consecutive NBA All-Star Shows. In 2003, after almost a decade at BET and other radio stations in D.C. and New York, including 3 years at WBLS-FM. He began work as an on-air personality at WRKS/KISS FM, an urban AC station, and the sister station of New York’s #1 Hip-Hop station, Hot97/WQHT-FM. Two years later, having been involved with the hip-hop music industry for much of his career, his focus took a dramatic shift after an incident involving a controversial song by rapper Rah Digga, as the nation watched it play out on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes. Having protested the immorality of the music being played on Hot97/WQHT, Porter was promptly removed from the air, spurring his movement from endorser to activist.
On January 15, 2005, he co-founded IndustryEars, a think-tank created to identify and correct injustices in the media. Since then, he has been using his voice and his experience to personally advocate for increased awareness and consciousness in the media industry. His history in the industry can’t be documented in the space allocated and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Not many people will or can tell you the truth about payola. Not many can or will discuss radio disc jockeys who mislead people like Funkmaster Flex, MTV’s Sway Calloway, or brave disc jockeys like Steve Harvey.
Not many people can or will tell you the truth about corporate executives (most of them rich and White) who make sure that the most lewd lyrics are what your 12-17 year olds will hear. You can believe these songs that get played all day, every day, on seemingly every station are what people want to hear, but the dirty little secret is, that the more you play something, the more requests you get for a song. Porter shows that what listeners actually “prefer” to hear is a trick and gives us a glimpse into what is really happening within the radio and music industries
Interview continues here:
‘Ghettopoly’ is What Happens When Hip-Hop is Celebrated