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The author is the president emeritus and senior advisor of Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council.
My friend and mentor Lowry Mays passed away last week.
Lowry seldom took credit for doing what was the right thing. That’s why his principled walking-of-the-walk for civil rights is little known in the radio industry.
Since 1999, MMTC’s media brokerage, representing Clear Channel, has sold 50 radio stations to nine minority-owned buyers. Clear Channel donated another seven stations to MMTC, which placed the stations with minority or women entrepreneurs.
[Related: “Clear Channel Founder Lowry Mays Passes“]
Lowry earned another place in history by championing FCC regulation of broadcast equal employment opportunity. On Lowry’s watch, Clear Channel (now iHeart) became a radio industry leader in developing careers for minority and women broadcast executives and personalities.
And there were several unsung incidents in which Lowry drew lines in the sand – a prime example being how he handled local “morning zoo” radio stars who threatened the safety of the NAACP’s branch presidents in Rochester, NY and Toledo by broadcasting their home addresses and inviting listeners to drive there. Declaring such behavior unacceptable, Lowry fired both air personalities, even though no one had asked him to do that.
In 2001, Lowry famously showed up at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s annual conference, and explained, extemporaneously, why it was good for the industry, and the public, to have FCC EEO regulation.
This is a record of statesmanship that will never be surpassed – or forgotten.
Lowry Mays was one of the great ones.