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Interview: Jon Covington on Owning 97.3FM The Beat, Black Advantages, and His Career Soundtrack

Our next featured guest has a commendable history of success in broadcast media, entertainment, and community service. His work through the years has created opportunities for many while he himself became an established voice of the people. He is the first Black owner of an R&B/Hip-hop format radio station in Grand Rapids, MI – WJWC 97.3FM The Beat. You can hear him as an on-air personality every morning on ‘RISING SHOW’ from 6 to 9 a.m. EST. Please welcome to…Jon Covington! Jon, you’re the first Black R&B/Hip-hop format radio station owner in Grand Rapids, MI, a place many consider to be the new mecca for live entertainment. What opposition did you face along the way?


Jon Covington: I think I’m one of these guys when I’m doing something, when I have a plan, I’m sometimes oblivious to opposition. Interestingly enough, I don’t know if I don’t see it or if I just don’t allow it to become an issue, and I don’t look at it as opposition. I look at it as just a little small pebble in the sand. From my perspective when others mention opposition, I don’t know if there has been.


cr=w_538, That’s great to hear. Okay, tell us why people should care that you own and operate a station like 97.3FM The Beat.


Jon Covington: I think people should care as it relates to being able to tell stories from a Black perspective. Being able to share news that is directly beneficial or hurtful to a community of people who look like me. People should care because I care. We care about the people that we serve. We are connected. The urban core of this community is like our family and we communicate with them on a daily basis. In what ways have you been embraced by the Grand Rapids community?


Jon Covington: Incredibly. The support of listeners, the support of partnerships/clients, the support of people constantly saying things like “I listen every single day to the morning show” or they listen to this show or they listen to that show. It feels so good. The support has been phenomenal all the way around and it’s only getting stronger and better. Jon, how did you prepare yourself to be a leader in business and a leader of people in your community?


Jon Covington: I think by failing. I think by trying different things. I think by growing and knowing, more importantly, that if you’re a business leader, a business owner, you have to value the thoughts of the people who are working with you – your team, in order to make the best product. One of the biggest things that’s prepared me for business is realizing, understanding, comprehending, acknowledging that I don’t know it all. And I think part of that applies as a leader in the community. Part of that is realizing, understanding, comprehending, acknowledging that you don’t know it all! Also understanding as a leader you should be a servant leader. There’s nothing that I would ask of someone else that I wouldn’t do myself or possibly have done.


Jon Covington 1 (2) Consider for a moment the entirety of your career. Through all of it what’s been the biggest advantage provided to you by your skin color?


Jon Covington: Wow! In some of the jobs I’ve been able to secure, the work I’ve been able to do, the places I’ve been able to live, I would say in some cases people were looking for someone of color specifically. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time in many instances. I think preparation and timing, and being a Black male in some gigs worked to my advantage, for sure. I would also say being able to navigate, having grown up with challenges because of my skin color. My skin color has allowed me to understand flexibility. Since you’re in the business of music, being the owner of an R&B/Hip-hop format radio station with history in other aspects of entertainment involving music, what’s been the soundtrack of your career?


Jon Covington: The soundtrack of my career? Gosh, that’s a good question! Hmm… I would narrow it down to a single song and say “Keep On Pushing” by The Impressions. When people listen to you on-air do you want them to hear a Black voice or a voice of the community?


Jon Covington: I want them to hear the voice of a community that happens to be Black. |


CREDITS Written by Jiddoe S’Phatt | Photos – Search Engine Exploration | Jon Covington – as Himself | Producer – Liquid Arts & Entertainment | Creative Director – The Liquidation Committee | Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Copy Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Site Editor – Doug Sims | Webmaster – Doug Sims | Twitter – @LiquidAEMag | Instagram – @liquidmagazine

Liquid Arts & Entertainment is committed to presenting engaging conversations with top artists. We hope you enjoyed this interview with Jon Covinton.

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