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New Orleans Native, Actor Wendell Pierce and Businessmen Troy Henry, Cleveland Spears, And Jeff Thomas Purchase Wbok Talk Radio

NEW ORLEANS DATA NEWS WEEKLY — In a groundbreaking business move that will likely shape the landscape of local radio for several years to come, famed actor and New Orleans native, Wendell Pierce, along with business consultant and former mayoral candidate Troy Henry; Cleveland Spears owner of Spears Group Communications Firm, and Think504 owner Jeff Thomas have purchased WBOK Talk Radio. The investment group placed a bid to owners, Los Angeles-based Bakewell Media earlier this year and have now confirmed that the deal has been sealed.

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By Data Staff Writers

In a groundbreaking business move that will likely shape the landscape of local radio for several years to come, famed actor and New Orleans native, Wendell Pierce, along with business consultant and former mayoral candidate Troy Henry; Cleveland Spears owner of Spears Group Communications Firm, and Think504 owner Jeff Thomas have purchased WBOK Talk Radio. The investment group placed a bid to owners, Los Angeles-based Bakewell Media earlier this year and have now confirmed that the deal has been sealed.

In an exclusive interview with Data News Weekly publisher Terry Jones, Henry said, “I am looking forward. This will be a good project, working through FCC stuff. It’s exciting. (We) don’t have a specific timeline because we can’t close and transfer ownership without FCC approval, so right now we are continuing our due diligence. We have reached an agreement and are just waiting for final FCC approval.”

Henry further noted, “we will stay with news, talk and add a sports component, which is so important to the New Orleans community. We will reflect on what the station has already done and we hope to take WBOK to the next level. The Bakewells did a great job with the station, but because of them being so far away they decided to sell and we were fortunate enough to make the purchase. This is a business profit-making opportunity. Our first focus will be to hire a new general manager or retain the current general manager, and hire a program director; then have them craft the vision we have for the station and give them the latitude to be creative. Until ownership changes, the format is the same and will stay on the air. We may change the studio location; that is a possibility.”

Henry further explained, giving Data News exclusive information on one of their partnerships, “our relationship with Xavier University will be a critical element for the new station. We will heavily utilize students, internships, and Xavier will have its own time slots. With our new format everyone will be fed news, sports, and talk. We want listeners to stay on WBOK because they will get everything they need. I don’t know that it is our role as a radio station to opinionate, but to provide diversity of thought and prospective, and the audience makes its own decisions.”

Speaking of the financial and historic details surrounding the deal, Henry firmly communicated that the group’s position was to keep the station African-American owned and operated. “We went into this project with no preconceived notions other than we want complete black ownership. Liberty Bank is providing partial financing. We wanted a 100 percent African-American owned station, so both ownership and debt are black owned. The Bakewells have been helpful and forthcoming and very good in all respects. I can’t understate how big Wendell’s vision is and his thought process is for this station,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly.

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Bay Area

IRS Extends Filing Dates in Counties Under Federal Emergency Declarations

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said.

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Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.
Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

By Katy St. Clair, Bay City News Foundation

The Internal Revenue Service has extended its annual tax return due date by a month for people who live in areas impacted by the recent storms, the IRS announced on Tuesday.

California storm victims now have until May 15 to file their individual or business taxes if their area was declared an emergency by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said. A full list of counties can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations.

Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

Taxpayers will not have to do anything to initiate the extension, the IRS said, and do not have to contact the agency to get this relief.

Some other extensions are being granted to farmers, those who pay quarterly estimated payments, and those who pay quarterly payroll and excise taxes. To learn more, go to irs.gov.

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Bay Area

City Fails to Win $182 Million Federal Grant for Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Project

Opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

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A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.
A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.

By Keith Burbank | Bay City News

Oakland may miss out on millions of dollars in grant money that could advance the Oakland A’s proposed ballpark at the city’s port.

The U.S. Department of Transportation failed to recommend that Oakland get $182.9 million in the initial round of funding for the city’s Waterfront Mobility Project. Oakland has not received official word that it was denied the grant money.

The city has been securing dollars for the offsite infrastructure needed to support a new ballpark at the Charles P. Howard Terminal.

“While we are disappointed to have not been selected in the first round, we believe we put forward a strong application and are well positioned to secure other funding sources,” said Fred Kelley, director of the Oakland Department of Transportation. “We will continue to pursue other funding sources to ensure our projects have the resources they need.”

Oakland applied for grant money through the Mega Grant Program, which funds “large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.”

The ballpark proposed by the Oakland A’s would seat about 35,000 people, and the development overall consists of new housing, parkland, an entertainment venue and commercial space.

Not everyone wants the A’s to build a new park at the Port of Oakland. Groups have come together in opposition, hoping to have the A’s build a new park in East Oakland at the current Oakland Coliseum site.

Groups led by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association sued to stop Oakland from issuing a required environmental impact report for the proposed ballpark.

The opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure. The city has secured or is in the process of securing more than $320 million of that money, according to city documents published in December.

Former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was a strong supporter of the project.

New Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said at her inauguration Monday that she will work with the Oakland A’s on a deal to keep the team in Oakland while protecting Oakland values.

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Activism

California Family Whose Beachfront Properties were Seized 100 years ago, Sells Land Back to County for $20 Million

In the 1920s, the beach resort was extremely popular with African American tourists. At that time, Black people were not permitted on white beaches. The site became famously known as “Bruce’s Beach.” The children and grandchildren of Charles and Willa Bruce fought for decades to get back the land.

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Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell commemorate the signing of State legislation to return the land to the closest living heirs of the Charles and Willa Bruce. Credit / County of Los Angeles.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell commemorate the signing of State legislation to return the land to the closest living heirs of the Charles and Willa Bruce. Credit / County of Los Angeles.

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire

The great-grandchildren of the African American couple Willa and Charles Bruce, whose land in Southern California was taken in 1924 and returned to the family last year, have opted to sell it back to the local government for $20 million.

In the 1920s, the beach resort was extremely popular with African American tourists. At that time, Black people were not permitted on white beaches.

The site became famously known as “Bruce’s Beach.”

The children and grandchildren of Charles and Willa Bruce fought for decades to get back the land.

Chief Duane Yellow Feather Shepard, a family historian and spokesman for the Bruce family, stated in a 2021 interview, “It was a very significant location because there was nowhere else along the California coast where African Americans could go to enjoy the water.”

The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists often threatened the Bruce family, but they kept the resort open and took care of the land.

In 1924, the municipal council used eminent domain to take the land to build a park.

But, according to a TV show called “The Insider,” the area wasn’t used for many years.

Willa and Charles Bruce fought back in court, but their compensation was only $14,000. In recent years, local officials have estimated the property’s value to be as high as $75 million.

The area contains two coastal properties and is currently used for lifeguard training.

Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, revealed that the family would sell the property back to the local government.

Hahn stated that the price was set through an appraisal.

Hahn stated, “This is what reparations look like, and it is a model I hope governments around the country would adopt.”

The statement made by Hahn may or may not be exactly what the Bruce family desired in addition to the restitution of their land.

In 2021, Anthony Bruce, the great-great-grandson of Willa and Charles Bruce, told The New York Times, “An apology would be the least they could do.”

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