Community responds to loss of ‘Black Horizons’

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After more than 40 years of programming, a legacy will come to an end Nov. 1, when WQED Multimedia replaces its African-American focused program, “Black Horizons” with a new show, during its new scheduled lineup, called “Horizons.” The new program will feature issues pertaining to the different ethnic populations living in the region.

“Black Horizons” has been a major entity in the Black community. It is the country’s longest running program for and about the African-American community. It was another side to the many negative images of Blacks that are portrayed night after night on the news reports.

While the station may see it as an expansion to their programming, others see it as a loss of an entity that played a major role. “Black Horizons” did not just play a major role, it was a piece of history.

K. Chase Patterson, field representative for Congressman Mike Doyle and founder of the Renaissance Group, said, “It’s disheartening to say the least. Chris (Moore) brought a great perspective, which I am sure he will continue on ‘Horizons.”

The replacement is being compared to when the radio station WAMO being sold and taken off the air. There has still been no replacement and many in the community feel as if something is missing.

“I feel like we’re losing our cultural relevance when we lose things like WAMO and ‘Black Horizons.’ These are things that have been around so long, and in some cases longer than me. We need to get it together; we cannot continue to lose things (so vital to our community). “

Like Patterson, Tene Croom said she is saddened by the shows departure. “I was shocked when I heard (about the replacement of the show),” Croom, director at Sheridan Broadcasting said. “A legacy has been lost. The show was a wonderful vehicle of reaching out to the Black community and the community at large.”

“Black Horizons” was not just a show to discuss issues, but was also a learning tool for individuals who were not African-American. In many cases, it was the only way to learn about the “true” African-American community.

While some cannot believe the change, others are surprised it has not happened earlier.

“As a broadcaster I can understand what WQED is doing to reflect not only African-American events and issues but the growing the ethnicities (in the area),” said Rev. Loran Mann, pastor of Pentecostal Temple COGIC and owner of WGBN radio station. “I see this more as an economic move and it’s just a reflection of the tough economic times.”

Reverend Mann explains that with the station being publically funded and the economy being bad, he is surprised that this change did not happen sooner.

“I do not think it is a bad idea or that the context will exclude the Black community, (we) will still be covered, just not specifically, but inclusively,” he said. “(WQED) has to think in terms of the general population, not just one group.”

He said he does not think that the viewer ratings will decrease and that to keep the viewers from “Black Horizons,” WQED will need to continue to do shows geared towards African-Americans and do them well.

“As long as there is a commitment from management to cover the Black community well, then I do not think anything will be diminished in regards to the Black community,” Rev. Mann said.

Patterson will continue to watch WQED and the new show, but he said he thinks it needs to include an equitable distribution of stories that are relevant to the region and the population that make it up.

Thomas Evans, a resident of Braddock, said that he feels the station should produce both shows and that he is more concerned with the fact that he does not see anything this vital part of the community, like that of WAMO.

“I think we (African-Americans) need to get together, pull our resources together and get our own,” Evans said. “I would like to see us do more for ourselves and quit depending on others. And teach our young people how to run it.”

To ensure that the community does not lose another vital piece, Patterson said we, as a community need to be vocal supporters and contributors to the cause and advocates for their retention.

Croom said it takes doing things in the community, joining organizations, getting on boards, attending meetings and writing letters.

We, as a community, cannot expect them to know how important it is if we do not show it.

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