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Building the Public Interface of the Black Information Network

A Q&A with Angela Ingram on her role as one of the public interfaces for the Black Information Network

Angela Ingram, iHeartMedia Chicago, Black Information NetworkfAngela T. Ingram is senior vice president of communications for iHeartMedia’s Multi-Platform Group in Chicago and director of local advocacy and engagement for BIN: Black Information Network.

She was interviewed by Suzanne Gougherty, director of MMTC Media and Telecom Brokers at the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council. MMTC commentaries appear regularly in Radio World, which welcomes other points of view on industry issues.

Suzanne Gougherty: How has your experience in radio in general and as senior vice president of communications for iHeartMedia’s Multi-Platform Group in Chicago specifically equipped you with the capabilities to successfully navigate BIN’s Local Advocacy and Engagement?
Angela T. Ingram: My career experience spans over three decades of management and spearheading marketing, community engagement and communication strategy for some of iHeartMedia’s top-rated radio stations in Louisville, Charlotte, New Orleans and Chicago.

iHeartMedia Chicago’s station brands are the foundation of the Chicagoland community. I have an immense responsibility to serve as the market’s link to the community. I fulfill that responsibility by building local and national partnerships through engagement with nonprofits, business and civic leaders and elected officials. The same holds true for BIN. While we are a national network, our core responsibility is to serve our local communities by ensuring BIN programming serves, reflects the realities of, communities in our affiliate markets.

[Read: Getting a Look Inside the BIN]

Gougherty: How do you navigate the two positions you hold — looking out for local stations as a core member of iHeartMedia’s Multi-Platform Group in Chicago while at the same time being the lead conduit for BIN affiliates?
Ingram: Community engagement is the foundation of both positions. The key is to determine the needs of local communities, encourage meaningful input from local business and civic leaders, and local market leadership. The final steps are to develop and execute a plan to address and support those needs. Chicago has an incredible team led by Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia Chicago. He truly believes in “superserving” the community and provides tremendous support that allows me to seamlessly navigate between the two positions.

Gougherty: Please share with us your special management traits, there must be many for handling your position at BIN.
Ingram: There is one trait that supersedes all others — integrity. If I lead with integrity, whether its iHeartMedia Chicago or BIN, our mission will be accomplished. The trust factor must be developed early on between the company and local communities. My primary responsibility is to safeguard that trust and ensure that our programming is commensurate with our local markets based on an honest ascertainment of needs and priorities.

Gougherty: Please share with us how your role as director of local advocacy and engagement best positions BIN in local communities.
Ingram: I am the connector between BIN as a network service and the local communities serving BIN affiliate stations, and charged with championing BIN’s mission to nonprofits, civic and business leaders, and elected officials. The mission should be clear in every local community that we serve — a dedicated, high quality, trusted source of 24/7 news coverage with a Black voice and perspective, focused solely on the Black community.

Black Information NetworkWe have developed several benchmark initiatives to amplify BIN’s mission in affiliate markets. We produce a weekly public affairs show, “The Black Perspective,” featuring topical interviews and guests from local communities. We are also launching a monthly “Ask the Mayors” public affairs show to provide the unprecedented number of Black mayors in the United States a forum to spotlight their cities.

In most iHeartMedia markets, we have a Local Advisory Board that brings together business and civic leaders and iHeartMedia executives to engage in open discussion about how we can better serve local communities in the market. As co-chair of iHeartMedia Chicago’s LAB, with a diverse group of nearly 60 business and civic leaders, I have experienced first-hand the benefit of giving local communities a “voice” and staying close to those who monitor and shape public opinion.

In October, we are launching a virtual BIN Local Roundtable (BLR) with business and civic leaders from some of our affiliate markets to further engage and lend a “voice” to our local communities. We are also planning a quarterly BIN affiliate newsletter to share best practices and forge better collaboration between local markets.

Gougherty: With the pandemic especially last year, most of your affiliate communications took place on Zoom, Teams or other platforms. What were the challenges?
Ingram: The opportunity for face-to-face meetings is always the preferred communication.  That said, the virtual option turned a challenge into an opportunity to make important introductions and share BIN’s mission with local affiliates, business and civic leaders, Members of Congress, and even the White House.

Gougherty: The social unrest of last summer had a major effect on local communities. Please share how you were able to position BIN affiliates as a community resource during this critical time.
Ingram: BIN was a trusted resource to local communities during a critical time in our history. Our focus then and now is to provide reliable, responsible and responsive service to the Black community. Whether it was BIN’s coverage of the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, to live coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict, to the inauguration of America’s first Black female vice president, BIN’s award-winning anchors and reporters provided up close and personal reporting of the news stories that affected our local communities on BIN affiliates and the iHeartRadio app.

Gougherty: The daily life of a director of local advocacy and engagement requires working closely with Tony Coles (BIN president) and Tanita Myers (VP/News Operations) and Chris Thompson (BIN VP/Network Operations) – please give an idea how you manage the process.
Ingram: Tony Coles has built and incredible team at BIN. I have known him nearly 14 years. We worked closely together when he was iHeartMedia Chicago’s vice president of programming.  Tony is an exceptional leader and I am honored to work with him again. I have great respect for Tanita Myers and Chris Thompson and their 24/7 commitment to the network. We combine our talent, experience and connections to ensure that our network programming stays true to BIN’s focus on Black culture, social justice, education, HBCUs, faith and religion, Black wealth and Black health.

Gougherty: A long week — how do you unwind and refuel?
Ingram: I am an avid reader and can easily read 4-6 books per month, sometimes more, to clear my mind and escape. I love to spend time with my husband, family and close circle of friends. The ultimate fuel for me is my spiritual relationship with God. More than seven years ago, I co-founded the iServe Women’s Ministry for our church and remain actively involved in that ministry, which includes co-facilitating a virtual weekly Bible Study with women from Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis.