On New Years Day, listeners tuning their radio dial to 730 AM were treated not to the typical mix of old-school R&B and soul but a stream of unintelligible foreign syllables. Visiting the website informed them that KKDA, which had served southern Dallas for 42 years had, abruptly and unceremoniously, been sold and switched to a Korean-language format.
People weren't happy, and they apparently flooded the office of County Commissioner John Wiley Price with complaints. Price, after all, is not only the most powerful politician in southern Dallas but a former KKDA radio personality, hosting a show called Talk Back:Liberation Radio until it was taken off the air in 1998 with an abruptness that mirrors the Korean takeover. They wanted him to do something, maybe convince the station's previous owner, Hyman Childs, to rethink his decision to sell, maybe something more drastic. They wanted the old KKDA back.
Price responded with an open letter to the community, which was posted last night at Dallas South News. In short, his answer is, "No."
"While I will be the first to fight racism and inequality in its sundry facets," he writes, "the legal sale of KKDA by its owner is not a fight that I would be willing to raise."
Hyman Childs is a well-respected business owner, a pioneer of sorts and someone I call friend. For 42 years, this man who doesn't look like a brother has proven a special appreciation for brothers and sisters in this community. Childs has built one of the few remaining non-corporate and local radio businesses left in this nation, and he has allowed this community to vent, coalesce and grow together.
However, when Soul 73 gave way to Seoul 73 on January 1st, the same fans and fair weather friends that had been advocates for Childs and the station, turned on him. Admittedly, the news was a shock to the listening audience; but it shouldn't have. If you know me, you know that I have played the part of Noah as it pertains to the need for Kujichagulia or for self-determination if you missed Kwanzaa.
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"Anyone who understands business, could not in good conscience complain about anyone who made an honest investment, kept it for more than four decades and then decided to sell it," he concludes. "That practice is legal, it's logical and it's long-lived."
Price goes on to compare himself to Noah, writing that he has spent 30 years as "a voice in the wilderness" urging the southern Dallas community to build an ark, which in this case Price seems to be using as a metaphor, not just for a radio station but for prosperity and political clout in general.
"The problem with our community is that we continue to want to reap crops from fields that we did not harvest," he writes. "We want the milk, but won't buy the cow. Just as in the day of Noah, that great day of reckoning has come."
"You may believe Noah to be crazy, drunk or both. But Noah predicted this rain would come, and if we as a people don't begin to think and act on our own behalf a greater flood is en route. In other words my constituents and my friends; It's time to build our own Ark!"