Hats Off to Black Radio’s Tom Joyner for His Get Out the Vote Efforts

The very effective use of the Internet by the Obama campaign, and the role of the Internet in this election season, have gotten a lot of attention, and deservedly so.

But an old mainstay of the black community – black radio – has, as usual, has played an important role in informing and mobilizing black voters.

The Nation magazine talks about the great work being done by radio DJ Tom Joyner (paid subscription required to read the full article):

In October, as trumped-up accusations of voter fraud swirled around ACORN, another national grassroots voter registration drive aimed at low-income and ethnic communities steamed along, under the radar of the mainstream press and the Republican operatives hoping to challenge such efforts.

Called 1-866-MYVOTE1, it is headed by African-American disc jockey Tom Joyner. His Tom Joyner Morning Show, fourteen years old this year, broadcasts nationwide on 115 radio stations, reaching more than 8 million weekday listeners. His website, blackamericaweb.com, receives 3.5 million page views per month.

…Joyner downplays rhetoric endorsing individual candidates–he supports Obama but has made no official endorsement–in favor of touting the 1-866-MYVOTE1 campaign as a nonpartisan effort to provide voter registration and polling place information and to give his listeners a way of reporting, in real time, problems they encounter at their local balloting place. Listen to his program daily and you will hear relentless references to 1-866-MYVOTE1, all delivered in cheery language free of rancor.

“Politics is never a sexy subject,” Joyner said in a phone interview from his Dallas studio in early October. “We’re in the business of reaching as many people as we can. That’s how we stay in business. But in taking up topics like politics and health, or unemployment or the economy, we’ve found that our formula for success is to put humor with it.”

In his twice-weekly “Trickery Updates,” he turns to Ken Smukler, a political and technology consultant in Philadelphia, for jocular updates on signs of polling irregularities around the nation. Smukler built Joyner’s call-in voter information and poll-monitoring system after determining that two principal factors had contributed to problems at polls in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004: voters’ lack of information about the process and particulars of registering and voting, and the fact that many polling places lack the resources and well-trained staff to handle large numbers of voters.

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