As summer flows into autumn, the AFRO is set to broaden its reach with the expansion of its radio program, AFRO: First Edition, on WEAA 88.9. The show, which has run on Sunday nights since 2006 with a pre-recorded format, will now be a live, two-hour program running Monday through Friday, creating a greater space for Black voices on national and local news coverage.
“The AFRO is excited about this new expanded outlet for our editorial content and we think it’s consistent with the expansion of the AFRO in many directions so as to address the informational needs of our expanding readership,” said Jake Oliver, publisher of the AFRO-American Newspapers.
For Sean Yoes, host of AFRO: First Edition since 2007, and who also hosted the program from 1999 to 2001, that expanding readership, especially online, has uniquely positioned the AFRO to be an information source and voice for Black America.
“The AFRO has become, I think, the main online source for news and information for Black Americans,” said Yoes. “And I say that because when you grow at a clip of between 700 and 1,000 people per day on Facebook, as far as people liking us, and listening to us, and reading our stories, that’s a significant statement.”
And it is a statement that demands a response. With the AFRO’s online growth outpacing every other Black newspaper in the country, and with the largest digital footprint of any newspaper in Baltimore, the expansion of AFRO: First Edition helps to combat the shortage of Black voices and perspectives in the coverage of national news.
“There are not enough resources and outlets that really tell our story,” said Michele Williams, general manager of WEAA 88.9. “We have a lot said about our culture that does not come from us that sometimes takes center stage.”
First Edition, which will run from 5-7 p.m. on weeknights, will be divided into two sections. The first hour will be devoted to hard news and analysis, with discussions of topical local, national, and international news stories and commentary from AFRO journalists during a regular round-table segment.
The second hour will be devoted to lifestyle, culture, and trend segments, including a weekly discussion of race in America.
“That second hour is really about giving a little bit of something for everybody,” said Yoes.
The radio program will also create new opportunities for marriages across the AFRO’s various news products, according to Oliver. The show offers a much greater ability to provide editorial content than the weekly format of the newspaper does, which does provide commentary but emphasizes news and information. Segments from the radio show can be turned into podcasts and linked to articles on the AFRO website and Facebook page.
“We’re excited about the opportunities to expand the AFRO reach by using the content, and implementing it and blending it with our digital products to make those products even more robust,” said Oliver.
For Williams, the increased partnership between the AFRO and WEAA 88.9 is an organic outgrowth of the missions of both organizations.
“Both entities are structured and are programmed with the African-American and underserved communities in mind,” said Williams. “And it’s a specialty. It’s a special voice. We speak to our unique challenges and objectives that lie just beneath the surface in our community that may not otherwise be covered in traditional media.”