Community gathering planned in recognition of 1290 WMCS legacy

By Taki S. Raton

“I will really, really miss Earl’s show,” said Tommy McClinton as he walked eastward on the second floor level of the downtown Grand Mall. He was on his way to the 4th floor YMCA near the Plankinton entrance. “Ingram and Eric Von were Milwaukee’s talk show signatures on information of concern to our people. They were voices that we could trust,” he adds.

As reported by writer Cassandra Lans in the March 1 issue of this paper, A.M. 1290 WMCS permanently ceased broadcasting on Tuesday, February 26, 2013. As of 10 a.m. following Von’s usual sign off, Elvis Presley’s music began playing.

The radio format had abruptly changed without the opportunity for Von, Ingram, station manager TJ, or other members of the 1290 crew to share their farewells.

In response to the sudden demise of 1290, a community forum has been planned for Monday, March 11 at the Brotherhood of Firefighters Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Rd, beginning at 6:30 p.m. A special tribute to TJ, 1290’s program manager, is included in the evening’s agenda.

A panel of community stakeholders has also been convened to lend appreciation to 1290 and to share views and concerns as to what this lost means and the moving forward options available to fill the void of providing news, information, and issue analysis of particular interest to and for Black Milwaukeeans. Confirmed panelists to date include WNOV talk show host Sherwin Hughes, UWM Africology Professor Dr. William Rogers, Homer Blow of, and the Rev. Nathaniel J. Stampley, Sr. of Heritage International Ministries.

“My goal for organizing this gathering is to offer an opportunity for our community to respond with gratitude for the voice that 1290 has provided for over 20 years,” says Carmen C. Ray, President and C.E.O. of Rays Consulting and Training and co-author of “Raising Healthy Children in an Unhealthy World.”

Quoting station spokesman Bill Hurwitz, vice president of the Milwaukee Radio Alliance in partnership with Willie Davis’ All Pro Broadcasting and Times Shamrock Inc., the format change, writes Lans, was a “business decision”.

As a result of this change, 15 full and part time employees are now without jobs.

“Now, African Americans in Milwaukee have to begin to learn, if they have not already, cites Lans, “that if you want to maintain a voice and remain relevant, you must step up. You must support the businesses that support and reinvest in you and in your community.”

She asserts that we still have a couple of Black formatted and/or owned radio stations and Black owned newspapers, magazines, and websites. “African Americans must support these businesses not just with reading and listening, but also reinvesting their money into them.”

According to a March 2 posting, the WMCS call letters will be changed to WZTI-AM thereby launching its “Martini Radio” programming featuring the “Rat Pack” era maladies of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and modern artists to include Adele, Norah Jones, and Michael Buble.

In a message on her facebook page, TJ expressed that, “It is with great sadness that I say that 1290 WMCS as we have know it for over 30 years has changed. The days of ‘Talk of the Town’ are over. Thank you all who have supported the station.”

The scheduled Monday gathering is free and open to the public.

For any additional information on this event, please email Ray at: