Tory Lowe, host of the afternoon radio show on The Truth, began receiving calls from inmates at the Milwaukee County Jail in January. Reports of dirty laundry, poor food quality and unreasonable pandemic quarantines poured in for days from inmates and their families. They caught the attention of Sheriff Earnell Lucas, who told The Truth’s mostly black listeners that, despite supply chain challenges, he was committed to addressing the issue with compassion and keeping people safe. detained. Within 48 hours of the sheriff’s interview, inmates and family members called to thank the radio station for helping to improve prison conditions.
It’s an example of how the station can be a powerful vehicle for meaningful change, giving voice to the voiceless in Milwaukee’s black community, says Kyle Wallace, chief content officer of The Truth. “The power of radio is that it impacts real people and real conditions,” Wallace says. “We don’t filter their voice. We’re here to ask the tough questions, not sugarcoat things.
The Truth joins legacy talk stations like WNOV, while adding raw new perspectives from its “colorful” local hosts who boldly address Milwaukee-related issues that are often missed by syndicated music stations and shows. It is one of six local Good Karma Brands stations, including “Wisconsin’s Radio Station”, WTMJ-AM.
With Cherie Harris as General Manager, The Truth launched on 101.7 FM in January 2021 and airs live weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with “MKE in the Morning”, “The Truth with Sherwin Hughes”, ” The Tory Lowe Show” and “The Afternoon Truth with Dr. Ken Harris. It airs reruns of its shows during other hours and best-of clips during weekends.
The idea for the station came from Good Karma CEO Craig Karmazin, whose ‘aha’ moment was a GKB-sponsored first responder appreciation luncheon just two days after video of George Floyd’s murder went viral when the pandemic and community tensions collided. “I wasn’t thinking of the guy who had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, I was thinking of all the guilty passers-by,” Karmazin explains. “I sort of decided that we as a company had become guilty spectators.”
There was some initial skepticism “that a white guy like me would have good intentions,” Karmazin says, and he felt it was important for the community to understand that The Truth was not just GKB on a trend, that it was serious about improving the community.
They wanted The Truth to be a station where people could talk about anything and feel safe, improve community life and bring people together. Topics range from national fodder like the slap in the face of Will Smith, to local news like the tragic death of 3-year-old Major Harris, to the community’s perspective on the historic mayoral election.
The year-old station has already won awards for its programming and was even recognized by Mayor Cavalier Johnson, who dedicated its first anniversary celebration, February 4, 2022, as Truth Day.
“It just gives people a chance to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Wallace says. “We have accolades coming up which is great, but I’m coming here because it’s important work for the community. It’s really bigger than us.
This story is part Milwaukee MagazineJuly issue.
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