#TheShowMustBePaused: 88Nine Celebrates Black Musicians for the Day

Radio Milwaukee’s playlist featured all black musicians on a day the music industry paused to draw attention to the plight of the black community.

As part of #TheShowMustBePaused, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee played music exclusively from black musicians on Tuesday and focused on the stories and messages of the George Floyd protests in Milwaukee and beyond.

The national initiative, also known as Blackout Tuesday, is an intentional halt to musical performance and production to spotlight the plight of the black community that is such a big part of the music industry. “It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community,” the initiative’s founders, Atlantic Records executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemanga, say in a statement on its website. 

At 88Nine, executive director Kevin Sucher explained that the station could not shut down for the day due to FCC guidelines, so it instead chose “to take a stand and play all black artists all day long.” 

“We hope this programming will be the soundtrack to those who are taking the day to reconnect with their community,” Sucher said. 

This is just the first step for 88Nine. The station plans on announcing its concrete steps “to find a deeper, more meaningful ways to create belonging within our community” in the near future, said Sucher. “We are listening. We are organizing both internally and with our peers. And we will continue standing against hate.”

Thomas and Agyemang, in their online statement, assert that the music industry has “profited predominately from black artists” but remains rife with racial disparity. The mission of #TheShowMustBePaused is “to hold the industry at large, including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of black people, accountable.” Major labels announcing their support of Blackout Tuesday included Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Universal Music Group. 

Other Milwaukee music-orientated organizations releasing statements in support of Blackout Tuesday include Summerfest, the Pabst Theater Group, and the Rave/Eagles Club. “We are a festival for the people, bringing the community together through music,” Summerfest’s statement said. “We stand in solidarity with our black colleagues, artists, partners, fans and communities.”

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Marla Hiller is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine. She is a junior at Boston University majoring in international relations and minoring in journalism