Why this matters
Earlier this month, legendary sports journalist and broadcaster Brad Pye, Jr. passed away at the age of 89. Pye was a leader in the world of sports media who used his platform to elevate the Black community and create opportunities for other Black reporters to succeed. This podcast episode commemorates his incredible life, work, and legacy.
The latest episode of The Huddle celebrates the life and legacy of Brad Pye, Jr., who served as the sports editor for The Los Angeles Sentinel as well as a broadcaster and sports director for KGFJ, KACE, KDAY, and KJLH radio stations. As the first Black sports broadcaster in Los Angeles, the first Black administrator of the NFL commissioner, and the first Black public relations staffer for the MLB, Pye was a trailblazer in American sports media.
This episode's guests include:
Bill Rhoden, former award-winning sports columnist for The New York Times and current writer-at-large for The Undefeated.
Marques Johnson, former five-time NBA All-Star and current basketball analyst for the Milwaukee Bucks on Fox Sports.
Dr. Kenneth Shropshire, distinguished professor emeritus and CEO of the Global Sport Institute at ASU.
Rhoden recalls how Pye’s broadcasting and writing was interwoven with advocacy and activism. While Pye's approach to activism may have been understated, Rhoden says, “You knew Brad would never blink. He would never flinch. He just did it.”
Pye’s legacy of elevating Black athletes and the Black community is emulated in the work of the journalists and reporters who have succeeded him. Johnson mentions Kenneth Miller who is the publisher at Inglewood Today and the founder of Collision All Stars, an invitational basketball game for rising athletes in the Los Angeles area. Rhoden praises Black journalists at The Undefeated for engaging in activism and challenging the status quo set by predominantly White mainstream media.
As society becomes increasingly reliant on digital media for information, there is still a disconnect between mainstream news organizations and minorities. The implications of this divide are harmful and sometimes prove to be fatal.
In a 2011 study, The Opportunity Agenda found that negative media portrayals are linked to lowered life chances for Black men. The researchers found that “distorted patterns of portrayal” in mass media resulted from underrepresentation, exaggeration of negative associations, limitation of positive associations, problematic framing, and missing or incomplete stories.
In a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 58% of Black respondents said that they believed news organizations misunderstand them. Of these respondents, 34% said that these organizations' disregard for their personal characteristics was the primary reason for this misunderstanding.
It is critical that media organizations take initiative to improve their access, coverage, and representation of the Black community. Pye was a pioneer in this aspect of his career. He worked hard to provide other Black reporters with access to press areas and to empower the Black press.
“You have to keep the spirit of Brad Pye and the Black press in you even if you’re working for the mainstream,” Rhoden says. “You have to keep that spirit of the Black press in you and that never dies.”
Pye’s spirit will endure throughout generations of sports journalists and broadcasters who make it their mission to elevate their communities. While there may never be anyone else like him, it is imperative to carry his torch.
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