Grambling State students who were part of the Sports Radio Network are still uncertain as to why it has ended. They were notified by text message that the program was being disbanded following a meeting between SRN director Santoria Black and GSU administrators earlier this semester.
No one knows the official year that SRN started, but it is known that Black was a member when he was a GSU student and has been a part of it for 15 years.
Throughout its existence, the organization has provided students with fascinating experiences, such as internships with the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Sky and Kansas City Chiefs, not to mention their three commercial broadcast stations in Shreveport, Ruston and Minden.
Alumni have also received credible jobs from the experiences while working with the network. Within the last few years members have worked with the Dallas Mavericks, Texas Rangers, Shreveport BattleWings and New Orleans Hornets.
“It’s hurtful because of all the volunteer work that the network did for the Athletic Department to make the games more entertaining,” said Lenore Jean-Baptiste, a senior mass communication major from Las Vegas. “Now we feel like the school didn’t care that much about us.”
Baptiste, who was lead broadcaster of the Network, said Black was generous with his time and expertise in helping students develop.
“We had an opportunity to broadcast at a different place after KGRM told some of us we couldn’t work there,” she said. “Santoria never kicked anyone out, he just asked how can I help.”
The meeting that preceded the dissolution of SRN involved, in addition to Black, William Sutton, GSU’s acting public relations and communication director; Doug Williams, former head football coach; Joyce Evans, general manager of KGRM-FM; Terrance Bradford, assistant athletic director for business; Lyn Hare, engineer; and Aaron James, athletic director.
“It was a decision from the administration,” said James. “Everyone was looking for the betterment of radio broadcast and it had been on KGRM before, so we thought that we can better facilitate and get more recognition from our radio station KGRM.”
Many students and alumni were saddened about the outcome. The network provided students numerous opportunities, not to mention out-of-state fee waivers, trips and careers.
“All of the alumni [who were] a part of the network are orchestrating a plan together to be launched close to Homecoming,” said Andrew Smith, Grambling alumnus and employee of K104 and Steve Harvey’s radio show in Dallas.
Smith joined SRN in spring 2008 and said he was deeply hurt about the devastating news. He mentioned that from August to June students were equipped with all the necessary tools to battle in the media world with the focus being production, promotions and broadcasting.
“We were a family built on love, passion and commitment,” said Smith. “It was the only organization on campus that prepared me for the real world, helped me prepare to land the current job I have now.”
Despite the outrage and confusion on the students’ end, surprisingly, James said that to his knowledge no students spoke out to him about the termination of the organization.
“I tried to reach out to Aaron James the day after because he was in a meeting and President Frank Pogue was busy as well,” said Raven Campbell, a sports management major from New Orleans.
Campbell, the lead producer of SRN, said that she doesn’t know the future of mass communication and sports management majors. She wonders why the university would pay people to do what the network was doing for free and for the love of it.
“There was nothing that the students could have done with athletics with no radio station,” expressed James. “I think the students can still do the same thing they were doing through KGRM.”
The athletic director made it known that he understood how members of the Sports Radio Network felt after the dissolution. He believes that it would be a win for everybody to combine KGRM and the Sports Radio Network and they can do even bigger things.
Despite James’ concern and suggestion, none of the students who were a part of SRN went to KGRM.
“I don’t see a need to work for KGRM because we had our own production and broadcast, “said Campbell. “KGRM wasn’t doing sports at all, this is what we do. I feel that I’ve gained all the experience that I needed through the SRN, but I personally have no interest in KGRM.”
Black voiced how appreciative and blessed he was to have helped train the students through the program. Although it was an abrupt and upsetting change, he encouraged them to continue to seek opportunities.
“It’s painful, but they need to take the experiences, learn from them and apply them to real life,” said Black. “This is not the end of the world. I was most appreciative to the university for allowing me to train and help these students.
“Everything has a season and they shouldn’t use this as a reason to give up on dreams and hopes,” said Black.