In honor of Black Music Month, a celebration of African American Music every year in the month of June, soulciti had the privilege of speaking with Clear Channel’s President of Media and Entertainment for Austin, Pam McKay.
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McKay lives in Austin and has been in the radio business for more than 20 years. She was previously the general sales manager for KHMX Houston. With a staff of 150, McKay currently manages total operations for five Clear Channel Radio properties – AM 1300 The Zone, 96.7 KISS FM, 103.1 iHeart Austin, KASE 101, KVET 98.1 FM and 102.3 The Beat.
We spoke with McKay about black music past, present and future. She had this to say about black music in the past, “Motown gave us sound tracks for life. Saturday mornings I remember my mom would clean up to Tyrone Davis andJohnnie Taylor. Music relates to a time in our lives. When we hear songs, we remember special events.”She continued, “Now fast forward, songs stamped black music from old still ring today. When I first heard Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines,’ I knew it echoed Marvin Gaye’ssound.” Timeless treasures written and sung by black artists in all genres still light up the world today.McKay explained the importance of people of color serving in the executive ranks of the music industry. “No industry wants underrepresentation of people of color. It’s a big deal. There is dishonesty and misunderstandings of the black culture. You need people of color looking out for people of color in the top ranks,” commented McKay.As a steward of black image, she explains: “I love rap, but not all of the literal content that glorifies violence and causes young girls to dress too revealing by thinking that will make them popular. You need someone who understands that culture to be a proxy for that [market] segment,” McKay explained with strong conviction. “Someone had to teach people of color the value of holding on to their master records back in the day, for example.”A landmark achievement in the music industry this year was the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards, debuting to 5.4 million viewers. According to McKay, the awards will become an annual tradition in the music industry. Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc., owner of iHeartRadio, was thrilled with this year’s show, according to McKay. The awards celebrated current musical artists of all ethnicities in such categories as Best Collaboration, Hip Hop/R&B Song of the Year and Artists of the Year.As for the direction of the Austin music industry, McKay says it’s still up for grabs. “There will be new apps and apps within apps. There will be increasing technology and new technology on cellular phones. There is no limit and we don’t know yet what someone will come up with.” One thing for certain, industry executives and technologists like McKay will have their imprint on whatever is to come.