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Leadership in Action 4 of 12
In 2004, Clovia Lawrence moved into the news director role for Radio One's four Richmond stations. She also is the community-affairs director for three of those stations, hosting "Now Listen Up" forums throughout the year, and serves as executive producer for the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show that airs on WKJM 99.3.
Q: So, who came up with "Miss Community Clovia"?
A: In 2004, I was doing mid-days and had just hosted an on-air forum with our first at-large mayoral candidates at 1 p.m. Our program director, Al Payne, came to me and said, "I want you to break in with information about local events, do interviews and news during the Tom Joyner show and you are going to be known as ‘Miss Community.' "
Q: With that role comes words of encouragement to your listeners?
A: In my shows I have what I call "Clo-isms," sayings, positive reinforcement. For example, "Giving up is not an option" is one I use with high school students. Another is "Who are you going to celebrate today: the creator or the hater?"
Q: What guests on your Saturday morning community-affairs show have had the greatest impact on you?
A: An important show was one I did with breast-cancer survivors. One woman was 25 when she was diagnosed. The other, a 45-year-old with three kids. The show got to the basics about how women are working 14 to 15 hours a day, not checking a thing, not doing self-exams. We need to talk about it and get mammograms done earlier. We take care of our homes, our families and everyone else but ourselves.
Q: What is your greatest wish or "prayer" for the Richmond region?
A: That we as a community stop distrusting one another and not basing things on old news. When we can do that, then we can start anew. And our leaders need to be in the community, walking in neighborhoods, talking with this mother and that mother, talking with the kid who saw this or that, talking with this family and that family. In our schools, we need to reach out to our parents more. If we don't care for our kids today, they won't take care of you tomorrow because they weren't taught.
Q: How did you get interested in the restoration of voting rights for felons?
A: I was at the Second Street Festival in 2004, and we were doing a voter registration drive. I had several guys come up to me and say, "Hey Clo, I can't vote. I lost my right to vote." We had Gary Ellis there from the state board of elections and learned how they could get their rights back from the governor if they meet certain conditions. I wanted to get the word out and held a restoration-of-rights forum. We've held it every year, and in March 2008, we had 300 people attend.
Q: Who would be in your top three "gets" for your show if you could book anyone?
A: [Princeton's] Dr. Cornel West, bringing religion to the community. For him, it boils down to love. ["You can't save the people, if you don't serve the people."] I would also have Barack Obama, because he's a leader that won't let race or creed stop him from focusing on the betterment of the community. And then Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama is a smart, well-educated woman who happens to be a dark, beautiful woman with thick hair. We have been prejudiced within our race about light- and dark-skinned women. It all goes out the door with the First Lady.
Q: Who has been a role model for you?
A: My mother, Margaret, is my hero. She gives me a reality check. If I call her and tell her I'm having a challenging day, she usually answers, "Really, Clovia. It isn't that serious. Be thankful you have a job." Also my pastor, Dwayne E. Whitehead with World Overcomers Christian Ministries on Fulton Hill. He taught me about humility and true forgiveness.
Q: So much as said about the tumult that traditional media is going through. What's your take on the status of radio today?
A: It's hands-free. You can be in the shower and listen. We can repeat information two and three times, and you can call us! We have to report crimes, corruption, but our duty is to do it with fairness. As news director, I want to get the whole story. Radio can and will survive as long as we are community based. That's why we say "We are your KISS FM." We are a community. I'm not "Miss Community" just for the African-American community, but for the Asian-American community, the Latin-American community, the Native-American community."