BOSTON — August is National Black Business Month. One sector that really relies on support from the community is a radio station. Tucked away in a converted warehouse, Boston’s first black female Founder and CEO of a digital radio station, Danielle Johnson, runs Spark FM Radio.
Every weekday morning, “Saucy and Friends” wakes up with their listeners and talk about what’s going on in the community.
Spark FM’s Founder and CEO, Danielle Johnson — or Miss Hot Sauce — started the digital platform two years ago after finding that black voices in the media were nearly radio silent.
“We have a lot of big box brands and a lot of really big media stations,” said Johnson. “But there was nothing that really connected the local community to music and entertainment and resources and all that other great stuff that we do here.”
Danielle worked in radio for ten years and had always been involved in the community. But it was her booming voice and passion for telling stories that naturally led her to building a broadcasting platform for an untapped market.
“We wanted to build something that was not only professional, but inclusive, that was diverse, that was culturally appropriate,” said Johnson. “And that was able to tell our own narrative the way that we you know, the way that we live it in everyday life.”
Spark FM first started out with five live shows a week. It has now expanded to 27 live shows a week with a 40-person staff and those shows vary from politics to financial wellness, to community engagement.
“We wanted to be the voice of the urban and Caribbean community,” said Johnson. “We also wanted to give our creators a chance to come onto a professional platform, be able to mix and create and produce their own radio shows, and content.”
Spark FM ignites the conversation on several platforms — Facebook, Twitch and its App — and makes the headlines relatable to its audience.
“They can be more informed about what’s going on, they can start try to be more safe, and they’re more educated to what’s going on in their neighborhood, how close in proximity it is to them, and how much it counts,” said Johnson.
Community involvement is key. As the first black female CEO of a digital radio station in Boston, Danielle says it’s important to provide critical information and resources to an underserved market.
“It’s pressure,” said Johnson. “It’s a big task that I know that me and my team have seemed to be able to accomplish every time all the time.”
And Boston is just the beginning for Danielle. Her goal is to expand Spark FM and empower other voices like hers across the country.
“Really kind of set the blueprint, and to strategically plant Spark FM’s in different major minority metros that are lacking that connection to the media,” said Johnson. “A resource, a guide that’s literally in their community that can fulfill their needs of what’s happening.”
To check out Spark FM, visit https://www.sparkfmonline.com/
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