Friday, March 22, 2019

Soul of the South TV: The Television Network We Deserve.

April 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Representation in media has always been an important factor in how one is seen, and how ones sees themselves. The African-American community usually has to settle for networks lacking in substance, information, and subject matter diversity. We need a television network that caters to the many facets of our culture and offers more of the knowledge and culture we need as opposed to just entertaining our masses. had the opportunity to talk with film director and producer Doug McHenry about his newest project, Soul of the South TV, and how his network is seeking to engage many facets of television that are important to the African-American community.

TBM: Mr. McHenry could you tell our readers a bit about who you are?

DM: I’m the CEO of Soul of the South TV which is a new television network.

TBM: How did Soul of the South TV come about

DM: It was a struggling company about to go out of business. Me and a couple of other guys formed some new management and took over about two and a half years ago; we have been operating and expanding it. Soul of the south is a television network targeted to African-Americans that has a programming format based upon news, information, culture and entertainment.

When we looked at what was out there in terms of African-American television networks we had stuff like BET, TV One, Bounce and a couple of others but those are all entertainment networks. There was little to no news, black culture, history and things of that nature…there was also little to no information. It struck us that if you are going to serve our target demo there are certain issues that are relevant. For example, we should have a health show because we have a population that suffers from diabetes, hypertension and certain diseases in a higher instance that other populations. So, if you are going to have a television network you ought to address health issues, so we have a health show. We have economic issues, so we have financial literacy shows.

We need to know our culture and where we came from, and there is very little black history on television; a black network ought to deal with that so we deal with that documentaries and the like. We also have the entertainment portion where we have sports such as HBCU basketball and football. We have a wrestling show that highlights a wrestling league started by Booker T, the first African-American to ever win the WWE World Championship, that we broadcast. Then we have a lot of black movies; this is what we do. So. The Tony Brown situation fits into our news and information.

TBM: That leads into my wanting to talk with you about Tony Brown

DM: It struck us that many of the issues Tony Brown’s show dealt with over the years, given the current occupancy of the White House, are showing themselves again and we have an opportunity to have many of those issues revisited with the Tony Brown show. He hasn’t been on the air in a really long time, so we are exceedingly proud and grateful that we are able to syndicate his show again.

TBM: I grew up in the era of BET, which I no longer watch, and I’ve watched the shows of substance disappear. It’s a hard press find now even on TVOne.

DM: Those manners of shows are either waning, being reduced, moved around, or going more to talk shows as opposed to real news and information.

TBM: How does Soul of the South TV plan to engage Black America in something other than sports or entertainment?

DM: I think you have it on the menu. It’s difficult to get a kid to eat ice cream, rice, or fish it’s not even on the menu. What distinguishes our programming concept is that we are a bit broader. We tend both in the linear space, which is traditional platforms like BET, verse what’s happening today on the internet or what we call OTT (over the top) services. What they all have in common is it appears people wat formats that are narrower. In other words, some of the most successful networks are narrowly conceived such as news networks like CNN, Fox or MSNBC they do one thing; sports networks like ESPN with is one of the most successful network launches in history. These are as opposed to a format that was more traditional like the big networks CBS, NBC…where they would have news, entertainment shows, sitcoms, dramas, movies, and sports.

Because we believe the African-American component of the TV demo is a subsect in and of itself we want to be the place where our saying is “Soul of the South, it’s home”. What we mean by that is we have a little something for everybody. Imagine a 24hr programming diagram: we have something for women and within that 24hrs some women will tune it, also we have options where men will show up, and ones where kids show up as oppose to just news, just sports, just finance, or just movies. Sometimes the entire demographic won’t check in, so my purpose is to get most of the targeted African-American audience regardless of their taste to check me out at least one time during a 24hr period. The only way I can do that is to offer a broader range of programming as opposed to a narrower range of programming.

One program philosophy is I do black sports so if you are interested in sports you are going to see me, but if I am interested in news, black history or something else I’ll never see you. But they say I don’t care because if we get the sports junkie, and he checks in often enough I can make a lot of money. I think we already have narrowly defined networks, and all the black networks basically just entertainment networks that’s what deal with. What we are trying to say is we can deal with entertainment, but we think there’re all these other important aspects. Our community must be served with more than just rap videos, movies or sitcoms, and there are enough people in our demo (targeted community) that are interested in more than just that. Everybody has to compete on that level for example: New Jack City might be on ABC one month, then Showtime, HBO, or BET so even the black entertainment portion is also spread upon a lot of networks that are not targeted to African-Americans.

This is because African-American entertainment is also liked by those that are not African-American. Black Panther hasn’t made a billion dollars because only black people saw it, and that’s a good thing. But, there are special needs and interests that our community has that our current African-American networks do not target, nor the other broad networks. I think black history is important. I think black health is important. I think black financial literacy is important. I think black spiritual faith and religion is important. I think these family values are important. you have to have a network somewhere along the line that addresses these issues.

TBM: This is 2018 verses 1992. Tony Browns Journal, how would that impact youth, millennial young African-Americans watching today?

DM: I don’t know because I can’t predict. I do know when I was growing up with my mother we use to watch: Firing Line, Tony Brown’s Journal, and Black Enterprise…we watched all that stuff on PBS. They never asked, “I wonder how that will impact him”. They just wanted me to be exposed to it. Children are amazing. Young people are amazing. Sometimes if you just put them in the water they will think of new and inventive ways to deal with the water that you could not have thought of, you have to at least give them the opportunity. Some people may turn it on and see the old Tony Brown shows and say “look at his old funny clothes”, but Dick Clark, Richard Pryor, Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King, or Huey Newton may be on there. He had all these people on his show for 35yrs.

He had every black leader, Whitney Young, you could think and practically every black entertainer you could think of…as well as black business leads like the founder of Ebony magazine Mr. Johnson. He’s had all of these luminaries on there; many of these kids and millennials don’t know who some of these people were, and probable don’t know who Tony Brown was, but I can’t help but think that they’re thumbing through TV and one of these shows come on and they see Dick Gregory or something interesting that they at least have the opportunity to engage if they want. We can’t predict the results, but my job is to at least put it on the menu.

TBM: Where can views access Soul of the South TV now, and can we view it online?

DM: It’s a very small distribution platform but our locations can be found on our website currently its’s just on TV, but you can stream some of the previews on VEMO and other platforms. The website offers all the details.

The African-American community is become aware of their buying power at a rapid pace. Its important to support black business, which also means putting our weight behind a black owned network that is seeking to address the needs of our community verses just pacifying us with entertainment. Take some time to check out what Soul of the South TV network has to offer at Our community, our children, need a network that can offer us the information necessary to become stronger as a people. As the network expands let’s give it the ratings necessary to serve its purpose in having something for everyone. Soul of the South TV is definitely a network for us, and its special because it comes from the heart of our own.

Official website

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

May connect with this sister over at Facebook and also Twitter

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