Industry Ears

"A New Generation Think Tank Dedicated to Promoting Justice in media"


A consortium of entertainment and broadcast industry professionals with more than 60 years of experience dedicated to revealing truth and promoting justice in media.



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03 May 2010

Industry Ears in Baton Rouge

Listed under: Blog

by Ural Garrett

Former program director for BET talks about the death of urban radio; corruption within the music industry

Paul Porter’s twenty year experience within American radio and television has shown him how positive yet destructive the industry can be. A native of Queens, Porter studied Communications at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. After 12 years of being on the forefront of urban radio, he began his nine-year tenure at Black Entertainment Television (BET). After increasing video viewership by 16 percent during his tenure at BET, he began to work as an on-air personality at WRKS/Kiss FM from where his career would take a dramatic shift after an incident involving a controversial rap song. He would later co-found Industry Ears , a think-tank created to identify and correct injustices in the media. Ever since then, he has toured the nation advocating increased awareness and consciousness in the industry.

On Wax: Tell me about Industry Ears. What is it and why did you start it?
Paul Porter: I saw the way the music game was changing. Everything was becoming the same; titts, ass and gangsta rap. The big issue that happened was when I got fired for complaining about a record by Rah Digga; it had those lyrics like “I beat that bitch with a bat.” I met a girl whose mother was beaten with a bat by her father and when complained about the record, the radio station fired me. I got too see it all happen so me and a friend Lisa Fager had years of conversation about the industry so we started Industry Ears. It’s an insider’s look into the industry.

On Wax: People say that you talk a little too much about the industry, how do you feel about that? Have you ever been confronted or received any threats?
Paul Porter: I believe in freedom of speech. There are a lot of bitches in the game who are complaining. That shit doesn’t bother me, because the truth hurts sometimes. As for ever being confronted or anything, who is going to confront me? Everyone knows how the business is; the shit just smells. I haven’t heard anything from anyone. The artists don’t speak up that’s for sure.

On Wax: What made you want to start exposing the industry like you did?
Paul Porter: It became so corrupt. There were a lot of black mom and pop radio stations in back in the day and they broke new artist. Then they started syndicating black radio and so you get the same radio in every city. Jews like Jimmy Iovines are changing hip-hop through these major labels. Nobody is uprising anymore. The last black uprising was Jena Six. Black radio was all we had but now it’s going down with syndication. Ricky Smiley is syndicated? Give me a break. Even song rotation is getting shorter and shorter; so much that it’s as the music is getting drilled in people’s heads.

On Wax: You spoke about accepting Payola, explain what it is to those who don’t know and what it’s doing to the industry.
Paul Porter: It’s an illegal cash payment for radio play. You get paid to play a song you wouldn’t normally play. It’s a shame how the top three record labels just dominate and own the music charts.

On Wax: You speak a lot about the death of urban radio, what caused it’s downward spiral and is there any way it can get out of it?
Paul Porter: It’s corporate ownership that’s destroyed it. It’s now one national sound. The corporate mantra is simply give them less, and more of it. You have someone in LA or somewhere listening to the same person in New York. Radio has to get back in the game.

On Wax: Since you’ve been in the music industry for a long time, what has changed about it in both good and bad?
Paul Porter: I think the thing that’s changed the industry was the music video. When music video’s came out, it cut down the variety of songs radio could play. It took the essence out the music. This is why kids don’t appreciate radio anymore. It was a time where we would play any song off the record but we started getting cease and desist orders because it had to be the single that had a video.

On Wax: Do you believe that music is as influential to today’s youth as many people believe?
Paul Porter: Yeah, shit you see it. Kids believe in this music. History has shown that music has been apart of culture. Music makes the same impression on people and culture. It’s not just a rule, it’s been proven.

On Wax: You likened the 360 deal to modern slavery, explain what that is and why you feel that way?
Paul Porter: 360 deals are the new way to own someone’s brand and image. They give you a big advance. If you have an album that doesn’t sell well they’ll end up making a cut of things you do outside the music like movies and tours.

On Wax: You worked with BET, what did you do with the network and what are your thoughts on the controversial channel?
Paul Porter: It’s just a bunch of programs. They killed the music video. They do reality TV shows that are at a lower quality then network television. It’s a lot of coonery and buffoonery on a different level. A lot of the shows don’t have a lot of substance. It went from “Bang Bang” to “Dumb Dumb.”

On Wax: The music industry seems to be in a rut, what do you feel needs to happen before it gets any better?
Paul Porter: The break up of these major labels. There following trends and not creating anything. We have different music charts but look whose on them, artist from the major labels.

On Wax: Do you think the rise of the independent labels will help the music industry in a way?
Paul Porter: The indie’s are doing it they way they do because they have no other choice. In fact, some indie labels are really big labels with mask.

On Wax: What does an artist need to know if he/she is going to make it in the industry?
Paul Porter: Learn…Hook up with a good attorney and management. Become a good songwriter. People should learn about the game. Just because your boys say that you can rap doesn’t mean you can make a hit. Learn how to make your own music because if not, all your doing is making producers rich.