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Est. April 5, 2002
May 26, 2016 - Issue 655

Radio One's
Continued Opposition
To DC's First 100-Watt
Community-Based Radio Station

"Despite a nay saying minority,
terrestrial radio still exists and continues
to be the most accessible form of media.
Local radio exists too and can be an
equalizer—by-passing corporate,
class-conscious gatekeepers. LPFMs
empower a community of traditionally
marginalized voices—handing them
a microphone and a platform."

Some of you may be aware of my involvement with a new low-power FM radio station (LPFM) that received its FCC (Federal Communications Commission) license in 2014. As promising a proposition as it was then, things have reached an untenable phase. The FCC just rendered a decision effectively killing WOOK-LP.

The US Congress grants broadcast licenses to hundreds of local communities all over America to broadcast and operate LPFM stations.  WOOK-LP is DC’s first LPFM!

“But why didn’t I know,” you might ask?   You don’t know because the license holder, nonprofit workers advocacy Sincere Seven hasn’t’ been able to open its FM transmission to the general public. As Sincere Seven’s Executive Director, it’s not because I don’t want to ‘go live;’ it’s because someone else doesn’t want WOOK-LP to [do so]. That “someone else” is Black radio giant Radio One. 

In my neck of the woods, Radio One has been and continues to be synonymous with its owner, Cathy Hughes. In Washington, DC’s Black community, Ms. Hughes is held in high esteem, chiefly for her reputation as a visionary, filling the void of delivering radio that empowered the Black community (her radio station’s tag line was information is power). Residents also respect her for her amassed wealth and radio station holdings, which, for some, serve as indicators of business savvy, power and success.

Ms. Hughes has (even before we received FCC approval!) and continues to stand between us (Sincere Seven) and the Brightwood DC community that WOOK-LP is licensed to serve. How?

She stops us from broadcasting by filing petition after petition after petition with the FCC. One example of a [David and] Goliath hurdle has been the FCC’s allowance permitting Radio One’s to file oppositions despite being “out of time.” That is, instead of rendering a final decision, the FCC allowed Radio One repeated bites at the apple, as long as the petition was for a ‘new’ reason. The FCC’s actions are wrong, as is Ms. Hughes’ Radio One. Both entities are wrong—ethically and legally.

As you read this commentary, Radio One has filed its 8th petition to deny us licensure and has lost every challenge. But, their high-priced lawyers aren’t paid to quit. WOOK-LP is an all-volunteer operation and we are not quitters, but we need your help to resuscitate us.

This FCC decision wounds my community deeply. To have invested the community's money and sweat equity in this project—only for Radio One to harass us out of existence—is an unimaginable blow. The story of how we got here is complex—a fantastic soap opera saturated with elements of greed, deceit, thievery and a self-serving founder; a nearly single-handed dedication of over 365 consecutive, 18-hour days to build a radio station from scratch (including self-training!); legions of know-it-all, do-nothing advice; and the constant struggle to fend off the onslaught of Radio One’s petitions against us. The project has been a daunting climb for me, but as Sincere Seven’s Executive Direct and Acting General Manager of WOOK-LP, I will scale this mountain. I believe in this project for the voice it can give my Brightwood community.

Many of you know “who and what Radio One is. Radio One, Inc., an American media conglomerate with holdings in radio, cable television and digital media, owns and operates 55 radio stations in 16 US markets. It is the largest Black-owned US broadcasting company, with Black and urban listeners as its target demographic. It’s a commercial entity, operating stations at 50,000 watts. For two years, Radio One has been a drive-by to WOOK-LP—sniping at every turn to slay us.

During her days in local radio, media mogul, Ms. Hughes preached Black self-reliance. She implored listeners to support Black businesses and support each other. So why is the Mother of DC Black talk radio so intent on strangling the baby? Granted, the mother (Radio One) didn’t endure the labor pains to deliver the baby (WOOK-LP). But, as a trailblazer and visionary, her courage spawned the concept of radio that uplifts the people it serves. In the spirit of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown: I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door. I’ll get it myself.

Why does Ms. Hughes view WOOK-LP as her nemesis, rather than as the baby that personifies her mantra of self-reliance? leadership and visionary example? Why the dogged determination to strangle us? First, she claimed radio interference: Imagine, if you will, a non-profit LPFM that operates at a maximum 100 watts and 5-mile radius of its broadcast base, compared to each of her stationsplural—multi-state, 50,000-watt expanse!

Second, she claimed competing programming. Contrary to Radio One’s primarily syndicated programming of mostly hip-hop, rap, R&B, talk radio and news, WOOK-LP’s programming will originate from and by our community. As mandated by our federal FCC license, LPFMs are truly community-based projects. So, both claims lack merit!

As American citizens, we’ve got the right to broadcast on the FM airwaves.  Like other noncommercial radio (TV too) stations, LPFMs feature diverse music genres, news reporting, and cultural programming—all of which is produced locally. We’ll play those catchy mash-ups the neighbor’s kid mixed from his parents’ old albums. We’ll cover the local high school football games. We’ll showcase candidates running for local office and intertwine politics talk within the context of a DC civics lesson. LPFMs connect you to your community in a way that today’s radio abandoned three decades ago.

When Sincere Seven applied for the LPFM license, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski said "The FCC will take swift action to open the dial to new low-power radio stations and the valuable local service they provide…”  And they did!  Unfortunately, Sincere Seven and our community are still waiting. Our all-volunteer local DJs, engineers, and staff currently bring you radio online at While we wait. We also teach and train anyone who wants to learn radio—absolutely free. Radio One cannot make the claim of competition in that arena.

Despite a nay saying minority, terrestrial radio still exists and continues to be the most accessible form of media. Local radio exists too and can be an equalizer—by-passing corporate, class-conscious gatekeepers. LPFMs empower a community of traditionally marginalized voices—handing them a microphone and a platform.

Tell Radio One: Quit It! Leave WOOK LP alone!  Go to to sign our petition. Support true community radio; tell the FCC to end Radio One’s endless stonewalling against Sincere Seven.

We are ready to resume work, raising the money to buy our transmitter (we’re half-way there, having already bought the FM antennae), which is the cornerstone of our project. It is the equipment that gives us the signal to broadcast at 103.1FM in Washington, DC., and thus, meet our FCC obligation. For now, we’ve created a way for you to preview our 24-hour programming at or via the Tune In app/

DC deserves a local FM radio station that’s run and supported by us—the Black community. We can’t do it without you!  The Mother of DC’s premier Black radio should not strangle the baby who too has arrived as a DC’s Black History First. Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere
that currently owns the FCC license for WOOK-LP 103.1FM/ His latest book,
Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1, chronicles his ‘behind bars’ activism that extricated him from a 42-year sentence and is now case law. He is also the author of As A Condition of Your Freedom: A Guide to Self-Redemption From Societal Oppression, Mr. Redd also hosts a radio show, Socially Speaking, from his Washington, DC studio. Contact Mr. Redd and BC.




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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