03/08/04 Have You Discovered Your Purpose On Earth?
I recently attended the funeral of Charlie Willer, one of my dearest lifelong friends. As I prepared my thoughts to speak at his memorial service, I realized the impact this one man had on my life: Without his efforts, everything in my life would be different. Charlie introduced me to radio as a career; without that introduction, I could still be welding cement-truck bodies in an Indiana factory (and there would be no Radio Ink). He also introduced me to my wife and many of my closest friends. His life — his very purpose — was about putting people together and helping them see their God-given talents.

This issue of Radio Ink is focused on the 35 Most Influential African-Americans in Radio and on the Bayliss Foundation Roast. Neither of these features would have occurred if it were not for people who were fulfilling their purpose.

John Bayliss was a legend in this industry. Bayliss was such an influencer, such an innovator, and such a quality broadcaster that, upon his death, the entire industry stood up to honor him with a scholarship foundation in his name. Scores of deserving college students have received educations and entered broadcasting as a result of John’s influence. This great man is still making a difference.

Years ago, I received a call from a college student, who befriended me and then went on to chastise me for not giving enough coverage to the African-American radio community. He convinced me to do the right thing, and we immediately started to make changes in the magazine. More than a decade later, Sherman Kizart continues to stay in my face, making sure we do not let up our coverage. Radio Ink’s annual African-American list is the result of one man’s effort.

For the past eight years, Sherman has worked for Interep and has developed many innovative programs for them, for the radio industry, for the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and for Radio Ink. His recent promotion to vice president at Interep and his appointment to the FCC’s Diversity Advisory Committee now make him one of the most influential people in African-American radio. His efforts have changed the visibility and acceptance of urban radio throughout the industry, and the impact will be felt in the lives of millions of listeners.

Each of these people is a hero in my eyes. Each is proof that one person can make a difference, with an impact on people’s lives and on an entire industry. Most great people don’t set out to become great; they merely follow their conscience and do what must be done. Nothing gets in their way, and nothing intimidates them. Their passion is strong, and their will cannot be broken. They never assume that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make change.

What do you passionately believe in? And what are you doing about it? How will you be remembered by your friends, your colleagues and your peers?

3/08/04 Radio Ink Magazine. By B. Eric Rhoads