Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Blacks, whites vent on radio

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Using their immediacy, Cincinnati radio stations Tuesday became a lightning rod for callers' and hosts' opinions about the unrest that swept through downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

        Throughout the day and night, news reports aired on many local stations about African-Americans protesting on city streets, disturbances in which windows were broken and garbage strewn.

        CBS and NBC national evening newscasts showed footage of people storming through downtown streets, pushing over a hot-dog vendor's cart and kicking newspaper racks.

        As night fell, white callers to radio call-in shows described on their cellular phones being attacked by groups of African-Americans.

        On the area's biggest radio station, WLW (700-AM), host Bill Cunningham repeatedly chided African-American leaders, particularly Cincinnati council members Minette Cooper and Alicia Reese.

        “Where is the black leadership when there is racial violence against white America?” he said, at another point adding, “If there was a white mob beating up on black people because of the color of their skin, I'd be just as tough on them.”

        Callers to WLW expressed diverse points of view. Among the white callers, some said they understood the concern about alleged police mistreatment.

        Others who called in said they strongly agreed with Mr. Cunningham's views.

        Darryl Parks, director of AM operations, said WLW is a “mainstream” station with a wide range of callers.

        On WDBZ-AM (1230 AM), The Buzz, which serves a predominantly African-American audience, one unidentified woman caller urged listeners to boycott businesses that don't support African-Americans' efforts.

        “The Montgomery (Ala.) boycott proved that African-Americans can stick together, their dollars are valuable,” she said.

        Cincinnati City Council member Paul Booth appeared on WDBZ, saying he is calling for more openness in the investigation.

        Another female caller, who identified herself as Carol, simply called for a peace ful solution.

        “All our black men are dying, and no one seems to care. We all need to stay positive, stay connected, throw down them weapons and go with peace in our hearts.”

       Contributing: Staff reporters John Kiesewetter and John Byczkowski

Map: Where violence occured
Photo gallery
Main report on Tuesday's violence
Initial findings may not support officer's actions
Council locked up in City Hall
- Blacks, whites vent on radio
Brother's whispers resound amid madness
Rioting not the way, leaders say
Police try to go by the 'book'
Public Safety Department may be abolished
Racial strife not new to city
Donations for Thomas family