Tom Joyner Being Forced Out of Own Radio Show; Russ Parr to Take Over

tom-joyner

Tom Joyner, 65, is reportedly being pushed out of his own syndicated radio show to make room for younger talent.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the radio legend will be forced into early retirement next year so that Radio One – which owns a majority stake in Reach Media’s The Tom Joyner Morning Show – can move its other syndicated host Russ Parr, 56, into Joyner’s chair.

Also, Joyner’s forced departure is reportedly timed to coincide with the end of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2016. According to the Daily Mail, a “quiet plan” to phase Joyner out took root in 2014 “to lineup with the culmination of the Presidential election and President Obama’s departure from the White House.”

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A source explained: “Tom’s show has always been about community activism, education and social justice and he played a major part in helping President Obama get elected. They felt that the end of Obama’s term would be the ideal time for him to also leave.”

Reach Media has responded to Daily Mail Online’s story, saying: “Any stories that suggest major changes to the Tom Joyner Morning Show are inaccurate. Tom Joyner is under contract with Reach Media until the end of 2017. We expect that Reach will continue to syndicate Tom’s show beyond that date and for as long as he would like to be on the air. There has always been refinements and updates to the show as well as market changes due to local conditions and there may be some in the future; but Tom Joyner and the Tom Joyner Morning show continues to be strong and is a daily Party with a Purpose. Reach is committed to Tom Joyner for the long term who remains committed to radio, his audience and the future.”

Ironically, a source told Daily Mail Online that the plan to dump Joyner was masterminded by his best friend and former business associate David Kantor, “the man who actually launched Tom into syndication originally.”

Quick backstory on Kantor:

Joyner launched “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” in 1994 with ABC Radio Networks, where Kantor was an executive. It was Kantor’s idea to launch Joyner into national syndication – and the program quickly became the number one syndicated urban morning show, with more than 15 million listeners daily in over 120 markets at its peak. In 2003, Joyner launched Reach Media with Kantor, who left ABC Radio Networks to run Joyner’s Texas-based media company. In November 2004, Radio One acquired a 53% stake in Reach Media for $56.1 million in cash and stock, which gave the company ownership rights of The Tom Joyner Morning Show and Joyner’s website BlackAmericaWeb.com. In 2012, Kantor encouraged Joyner to sell more stakes in Reach Media to Radio One, a source tells the Daily Mail. In December of that year, Radio One increased its stake to 80% and that decision, according to Daily Mail, “was something that Joyner would live to regret.”

8 years after storm, $872M in Katrina money unspent in Mississippi

 (Left Photo) Willi Lee, 84, sits inside his home that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and which he wants to rebuild August 18, 2010 in Pearlington, Mississippi. Lee says he has received the funds to rebuild but cannot find a trustworthy builder. PEARLINGTON, MS – MAY 25: (Right Photo) Willi Lee, 79, stands inside his home that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and which he wants to rebuild May 25, 2006 in Pearlington, Mississippi. Lee said he attempted to ride out the storm in the house but eventually was washed outside by the flooding where he was able to cling to a tree limb for hours until the floodwater subsided. Lee says a poisonous water moccasin snake clung to the limb next to him the entire time. The eye of Hurricane Katrina passed directly over Pearlington, located approximately midway between New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi

Jackson, Miss. — Eight years after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, Mississippi still hasn’t spent almost $1 billion in federal money dedicated to recovery from the storm. The remaining $872 million is part of $5.5 billion Congress gave the state to rebound from Katrina, which struck in August 2005, killed 238 people in Mississippi and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, most heavily in coastal counties. More than half of the unspent money is tied up in a hotly debated plan to expand the state-owned Port of Gulfport, and millions more are allocated for projects that have yet to materialize.

Critics also complain that some projects are far from the Katrina strike zone and don’t seem to have a direct connection to recovery from the hurricane, while others have failed to take root or are not meeting promises of creating jobs. One of the projects — a parking garage in Starkville near the Mississippi State University football stadium — is more than 200 miles from Katrina’s landfall.

Ashley Edwards, director of the state’s Office of Recovery, said the pace of spending has been partly due to difficulty satisfying federal requirements. Some funding wasn’t released to the state until recently, Edwards said, but state officials said they plan to complete most work within the next two years. The money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development must be directed toward projects that meet certain criteria. For example, companies or government entities getting economic development money must agree to create certain numbers of jobs, with at least half of them to be offered to low or moderate-income people.

But Reilly Morse, a lawyer for the Mississippi Center for Justice who has fought the state’s spending priorities, questioned why Mississippi hasn’t been able to find uses for all of the money. “For a state that’s got economic development challenges, a state that’s got a difficult unemployment rate, it’s surprising,” he said. The decision to allot more than half of the HUD money to job-creation was made by former Gov. Haley Barbour, who was in office when Katrina struck. The state could reallocate money with HUD’s approval, but has resisted changes.

Neighboring Louisiana budgeted less than 3 percent of its money for economic development, spending almost all of it on housing and infrastructure. As of March 31, Louisiana had spent about 91 percent of the $10.5 billion it received under the program, according to reports it submitted to HUD. Morse had campaigned to have more of the money diverted to help Mississippians repair houses. Under national criticism, Mississippi shifted about $164 million into a home repair program that’s still ongoing. One of the most contentious projects funded with the money has been the plan to expand the port of Gulfport.

As the project dragged and job creation lagged, current Gov. Phil Bryant called for a re-evaluation of port plans in 2012. Raising the port’s elevation to 25 feet to thwart storm surge was scrapped, and the port lowered its cargo target from 3 million containers a year to 1 million containers. Longtime port director Don Allee resigned.

The cost of the project — $581 million with $463 million still to be spent — is still attracting criticism. The port currently averages about 200,000 containers a year, and Gulfport City Councilman Rusty Walker questions Bryant’s goal of expanding capacity to 1 million a year. He doubts that current tenants, such as fruit importers Dole Food Co. and Chiquita Brands International Inc., are going to increase the amount of cargo they move through Gulfport, arguing the port could already handle more traffic than it gets today. “If they could sell an extra bunch of bananas, do you believe they wouldn’t be doing that now?” Walker said. Walker wants money shifted from the port to such efforts as repairing storm-damaged sewers.

“It’s time to take the money back,” Walker said. Port Executive Director Jonathan Daniels, though, said the port needs all the money to meet its goal of creating 1,200 jobs. “If we don’t complete the project, then essentially we’re sitting here with a big field and very little ability to expand,” he said. “The best way for us not to reach our job goals would be to remove the money.” Beyond the port, the state set aside $384 million for projects funded by economic development grants. It’s spent $234 million, but still has $150 million to spend. Of the $283 million allocated so far, $39 million has gone to 10 projects that have yet to yield a job. Mississippi Development Authority Chief Administrative Officer Manning McPhillips said companies have three years from the end of construction to meet their pledges.

But in some cases, no jobs were ever created. After Indeck Energy failed to build a wood pellet plant near McComb, Pike County sued the company to reclaim the land. The state spent $475,000 to build a rail spur and move earth. The state counts Indeck, a hardware distribution center that closed in Meridian and a welding company in Holmes County that took money and hasn’t built a building as its only failures. But a life insurance sales firm now called One Life America agreed to open a 100-employee call center in Stonewall, south of Meridian. The state spent $600,000 to renovate a former factory. The insurance company closed the call center when the company reorganized. State House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, said the company had trouble hiring workers in the isolated location. He also said the company met all its legal commitments.

Advance Auto Parts took $614,000 for drainage, water and road improvements at its distribution center in Gallman, south of Jackson. It pledged to create 35 jobs, but has actually cut jobs because of the bad economy, state officials say. They’re now seeking a waiver or an extension from HUD for job creation requirements. Other companies may also get extensions, records show. Then there is the question of whether some of the projects have anything at all to do with the hurricane recovery. The state plans to spend $8 million to finance a parking garage for the city of Starkville, home of Mississippi State University’s main campus and more than 200 miles from where Katrina struck. Part of a hotel-convention center complex planned around a former cotton mill, it’s blocks from Mississippi State’s football stadium. That’s not unlike the condominiums built for University of Alabama football fans in Tuscaloosa using Katrina-related tax breaks and subsidized borrowing.

Like Tuscaloosa, Starkville was part of the presidentially declared disaster zone, and Edwards said spending is appropriate because it helps fuel “a comprehensive recovery.” While Mississippi funds the Starkville project and can’t seem to find uses for millions in other available funding, some recovery programs in coastal areas still visibly affected by the storm are out of money. For example, a $3 million forgivable loan program in Hancock County has committed all its funds to local businesses trying to rebuild. Storm surge was at its most extreme in Hancock County, where Katrina made its final landfall. “We had far more applicants than we had funds,” said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. “We were the hardest hit and the last to get.

50th anniversary March on Washington, DC Set

marchThe District of Columbia is organizing several events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington August 28, 2013. During a news conference at the African-American Civil War Museum Wednesday, Mayor Vincent Gray provided some insight on planned events.

The main event, announced by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, is the rally and commemorative march at the Lincoln Memorial August 24. A separate march, planned for August 28, will include a march to the Department of Justice and a rally on the mall.

Before marching the main event at the Lincoln Memorial, officials plan a rally at the D.C. War Memorial near the National Mall. Rally participants will focus on full enfranchisement for District of Columbia residents, voting rights, immigration reform, LGBT rights and gun violence.

In the days and weeks leading up to both events, D.C. officials also plan to highlight people, landmarks and artifacts that were important to the 1963 march through a series of seminars, forums and social events.

The 50th anniversary March on Washington is just as significant as the 1963 march. Many of the issues surrounding jobs, justice and poverty continue to challenge many Americans, and residents of the District of Columbia remain disenfranchised by the federal government. District residents do not have representation in the Senate and have a non-voting delegate the House of Representatives.

“People understand the plight to which we are subjected in the city,” said Mayor Gray, “they are very supportive … the District of Columbia should be freed from this kind of bondage. How can a nation that prides itself for supporting democracy all around the world deprive the people of the District of Columbia of the experience of democracy in this city.”

Janaye Ingram, D.C. Bureau Chief for the National Action Network, agreed that district residents are disenfranchised and said that current issues make the anniversary March on Washington just as relevant as the march 50 years ago.

“In 2011 and 2012 we saw many voter laws that [sought] to disenfranchise voters,” Ingram said. “The fact that the Voting Rights Act was gutted in a sense; taking Section 4 and making it invalid. With the case of George Zimmerman and the verdict coming out, we need to address some of the laws on a state level.”

Ingram also mentioned women’s issues and unresolved immigration reform as platforms substantiating the need for continued diligence in the current civil rights era. America has made progress in the last 50 years — including the election President Barack Obama — but as the Mayor further explained, more has yet to be done.

“I think it’s wonderful to see the progress that’s been made over these 50 years – the fact that we do have an African-American president – but the reality is that we still have many challenges. Certainly the District of Columbia is symbolic of those challenges that still are before us,” Gray told those who attended the news conference.

“When you have unemployment at the level we have, disproportionately affecting African-Americans and Latinos. When you see educational underachievement at the levels we still have, especially disproportionately to those who would be defined as minorities, you know that we still have challenges.”

Juneteenth celebrations commemorate the end of slavery

Today marks Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the emancipation of African-Americans from slavery, a day that is widely celebrated in broad pockets of the American south and west. It is a time of community gatherings, some held throughout the month of June, that focus on the jubilant aspect of this historical moment.

It was June 19, 1865 when soldiers of the Union Army told an assembled group: ”In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Yet, the name “Juneteenth” is the spawn of a twist of intrigue fitting for the types of injustices blacks faced in America as slaves — and the famous African-American wordplay born of the slave experience. Some slaves freed years after true emancipation These words promising freedom were uttered over two years after Abraham Lincoln officially had freed America’s slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

Despite its deceptive origins, Juneteenth remains the longest-running commemoration of the end of African-American enslavement, now in its 148th year. People in many locales promote awareness of Juneteenth through festivals, family gatherings, and cultural events that honor what is also sometimes called Emancipation Day. The oldest event held in honor of Juneteenth is Houston’s annual Juneteenth Festival. Today marks the 141st year of the fete. For those who observe it, Juneteenth is “a time for reflection” and “rejoicing,” as well as “self-improvement,” according to a leading site on the day, Juneteenth.com.

New Frederick Douglass statue unveiled today The U.S. government also selected the day to commemorate the social contributions of Frederick Douglass, one of our nation’s most prominent abolitionists and orators, who used the power of his words to battle slavery after escaping to freedom. A statue of Douglass was erected in Emancipation Hall today on Capitol Hill consecrating the life of this freedom fighter on a date that symbolizes everything he worked towards.

 “Juneteenth is an opportunity for us to reflect on where we have been as a country and envision a stronger future,” Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin said in a statement about this event. “The unveiling of the Frederick Douglass statue today in the U.S. Capitol is a powerful reminder of the immense racial progress we have made as a nation and the great African American heroes that brought us thus far on our journey towards equality for all people. “I am proud that in my hometown, Milwaukee residents have continued this Juneteenth celebration for over 30 years. Wisconsinites across my state recognize today as the official ‘Day of Jubilee,’” she continued.

“As we recommit ourselves to racial justice, I urge each American to learn more about Juneteenth and its profound impact on American history.”