Enough to Be Dangerous – Broadcast Industry Leaders Need to Do Better

Detroit sports radio lacks diversity.

One particular station in Detroit has no African American voices whatsoever. What’s more—white men host almost every show. And this in a city that’s nearly 82% black. How does this make sense?

It doesn’t. And broadcast industry leaders need to do better.

Sports radio claims that they just don’t have the money. But that’s a dubious response, at best.

And even if voices on the teams can that back up the talent, it’s just not enough. Especially given the fact that there’s no lack of amazing talent they could hire—both black and female.

The Darker Side of News Broadcasting

In his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, former news executive and now news talent agent, Mort Meisner, reveals that this lack of diversity has been afflicting the media business for a long time.

As we discussed in a recent post, some white male executives would call black male reporters “garbage men.” This demeaning label helped them feel justified in assigning the reporters the fluff stories that didn’t matter or make any impact.

This wasn’t just in Detroit, either. As Mort recalls:

I worked in five different newsrooms. And whether I was in Detroit, Chicago or St. Louis, it was virtually always the same. Black women were making inroads at the anchor desk – usually to sit next to an established white male. Beverly Payne and Doris Biscoe in Detroit were good examples. Similar talent placements were occurring in cities and newsrooms throughout the country. But black male anchors continued to be strangely absent. In fact, black males in TV news were lacking altogether.

Of course, black men have made some headway in the television news industry since that time. As have women. So there’s certainly something to be said about the awareness raised by movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo.

But Broadcast Industry Leaders Need to Do Better

“We need to do better,” are the words Mort has uttered for decades. He was always disgusted by the racist and sexist behavior that played out in every level of the industry.

And being at the executive level, he did everything in his power to affect change.

There [were] times where Id suggested [a specific black reporter] be assigned a specific story, but I always got shot down. The boss would say, “Theres a good story there, but he aint gonna get it.”

So I decided to work with [this specific reporter] to coach him. I told him that while he may never become the go-to guy, he could at least grow his game, get better and be more of a factor in our coverage plan. And he did get better. He rose to the position, and the pride and the smile he wore most days moving forward were rewarding.

Still, he was never going to get the respect he deserved.

The situation wasn’t much better for women—black or white—in an industry where a woman’s appearance could make or break her chance to be a TV reporter—regardless of her talent. The same standards for appearance clearly didn’t apply to the vast cavalcade of older white men who populated the screen.

So while some improvement has occurred, it’s disheartening to hear that racism and sexism are still “business as usual” in other areas of broadcasting.

The Silver Lining

Recent times have challenged many to look at their long-held beliefs. Especially those beliefs that are more covert in nature. And there does seem to be a trend toward acknowledging poor behavior. At least in SOME circles.

Right now, Mort is in talks with the aforementioned sports radio station to bring on a particular and highly professional talent that will contribute a much-needed voice to the station. And to their credit, they acknowledge that they dropped the ball and got complacent.

“We shouldn’t hesitate when the talent is there to have two black men, or a black man and black woman,” Mort recently said on a Fox2News Let It Rip segment. “Look, there’s plenty of talent out there. Plenty.”

It’s high time that every broadcast industry leader recognizes that and takes action.

Hungry for More?

Overall, the situation has improved in the industry since the days that Mort describes in his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous. Still, there’s no doubt that broadcast industry leaders need to do better.

And as long as Mort is at the helm of his news talent agency, he’s going to do his part to make sure that happens. Just as he always has.

Enough to Be Dangerous will officially be released in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on October 1, 2020 from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing.

Pre-order your autographed copy today. And subscribe to our blog to get more great stories about the book, as well as the latest information regarding the launch party and other exciting events – right in your inbox!