In I MiX What I Like! there is an attempt made to expand the context in which we see or interpret National Public Radio (NPR) and the issue of payola or “pay-for-play” radio. In a rare instance of news reporting honesty these two topics were combined as NPR this week discussed payola and the development of “hit records” using Rihanna as an example of how it’s done. They even took a moment to include some thoughts from our friend, IndustryEars veteran and radio expert Paul Porter. But their childish approach to the issues involved speak directly to the reason I attempted to put both NPR and payola in a different political context. By NPR payola is reduced to an issue of money or at best light corporate manipulation. There is, of course, no offer of appropriate context or cultural, political or economic impact on the communities whose art is forced into this process. So there is no (can be no) discussion of the politics of popularity and of pop culture, or the colonial relationship between artists and music labels (particularly Black artists) or the very fact that, as we’ve argued, NPR’s very approach, style and it’s affluent White target audience all suggest its role as Frantz Fanon’s Radio-Alger; settler radio.
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