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Black-owned radio station launches on Juneteenth in Los Angeles

Dominique DiPrima . (305561)
Dominique DiPrima . Credit: Dominique DiPrima

On Juneteenth, a new radio station, billing itself as “unapologetically progressive” talk radio, will debut in LA. The station’s dial position will seem familiar to some since 1580-AM was the original home of KDAY, the first to play hip hop for the city in the 1980s.

Helmed by Tavis Smiley of Smiley Audio Media, KBLA Talk 1580, is the only Black-Owned and operated talk station in Southern California. It will boast an all-star lineup of hosts who can speak candidly to the challenges of people of color. One of those voices will be that of Dominique DiPrima, who left KJLH-FM after 16 years to anchor the morning drivetime slot, weekdays 6 to 9 a.m., with “First Things First With Dominique DiPrima.”

“Yes, it is a really big move and it’s hard because I love KJLH,” DiPrima said. “I love the creativity and commitment of that station and I love Stevie Wonder. It’s been an honor to work for him. But at the end of the day, it’s not a talk radio station, it’s a music station. In order to grow, I’ve got to go to a talk station and the fact that this is the first Black-owned talk station in L.A. — its crazy.”

DiPrima is looking forward to this new venture, noting that it’s a chance to make history. She has a lot of topics in mind.

“I know I have Congresswoman Maxine Waters in the first week,” DiPrima said. “I know that anti-racism is a huge topic for me. I think as we look at what’s happening in Washington, I think this whole idea of making the rich pay their fair share in taxes is a big topic for me. Biden trying to pass infrastructure… Republicans fighting him… and Black L.A. right now—housing, homelessness, gentrification—these are going to be priority topics.”

Smiley, the station’s owner, will have a show from 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays. He previously hosted “The Tavis Smiley Show,” which aired on PBS from 2005-2018, before he was suspended and later ordered to pay back some past earnings for violating the network’s morals clause.

Other KBLA voices will include Don Amiche, formerly of KJLH; comic and political commentator DL Hughley; and comic Alonzo  Bodden.

Weekends will be anchored by Black Lives Matters’ “This Is Not A Drill,” featuring Melina Abdullah along with “The Best of State of the Black Union.”

The studios of KBLA Talk 1580 are located near historic Leimert Park, adjacent to Destination Crenshaw’s “Sankofa Park,” along the new Crenshaw/LAX Metro rail line, presently under construction.

“I think it will be a real center for the community,” DiPrima said.

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