29.2.16

Black is Beautiful 23-Soul Beat TV (Oakland)


I used to watch SoulBeat for the music videos and occasionally the talk shows they'd host as a teen. You could turn it on in the middle of the night and find a gospel show, a prayer, or crazy commercial for a local business. It wasn't the most polished filming or broadcasting but it gave a lot of people from around the way a chance to say something and was one of the first to play Bay Area hip hop artists videos like Souls of Mischief, E40, RBL Posse, or Digital Underground. It was cable access television. I went by the old building today (73rd ave) and actually couldn't remember which door was theirs, only the red building with the big yellow and black sign (which is no longer there) so I asked a local church member and a postman walking his beat who knew as soon as i asked. Whether it was a show by Chauncy Bailey, brother Billy Jones, the local pastor, rap and soul videos from the immense talent of the Bay Area's hip hop scene, the Black muslim community, or just a small business it was loved and valued in the community. SoulBeat started in 1978 and ran until 2003. Chuck Johnson from Tulsa, who started as a radio DJ, started the station and kept it "100% Black owned". The station had to shut down shortly before Mr. Johnson passed away because of financial difficulties and the fact that it is expensive to run a media business without corporate funding, just ask kpfa who does fund drives through out the year. But, to watch Soul Beat was to see Black TV like I had never seen before and it should be counted in Black History and Bay Area history. How important is it to own and distribute your own content that no one can direct or question?

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