Interview: Roland Martin Talks the Importance of Voting, Future Leadership and New Digital Show
Known for being a ‘tenacious truth seeker’ and ‘relentless journalist,’ Roland Martin hosted TV One Cable Network’s NewsOneNow for four years, where he made history for the first daily morning show to focus on news, politics and current events explicitly from an African American perspective.
From 2009 to 2013, he hosted the award-winning TV One Sunday morning news show, Washington Watch. After the shows were cancelled, many of Roland’s devoted fans expressed the importance of having his candid commentary and representation of people of color back on the air.
Fortunately, the award-winning journalist, author, TV host and multimedia entrepreneur responded by recently launching #RolandMartinUnfiltered, a daily digital show. Since its premiere air date in September, the show has reported on news and current events, covering a wide range of topics including politics, social justice, sports, education, business, finance, entertainment and pop culture.
“#RolandMartinUnfiltered is an independent news source that addresses many of the top stories today that are largely ignored by mainstream media,” said Martin who produces the show through his company, Nu Vision Media, Inc. “In my career, I have focused on many of these issues: voter suppression, HBCUs, the increasing wealth gap in America, and we will continue to do so in an unapologetic and unfiltered way.”
I recently spoke with Roland to discuss what made him decide to launch a digital show, how it differs from his previous big company ventures, and what viewers can expect from the show. He also shared his views on the upcoming election, and what he’s most excited – and cautious – about when it comes to emerging leadership.
FHH: Roland, you’re one of our important voices out there that we’ve missed for a while. And now we have you back and we’re so excited about it! Tell us a little bit about your new show.
ROLAND: We launched Roland Martin Unfiltered on September 4th. This was something that I had been focused on really since the moment that TV One canceled News One Now on December 9th. Of course, our last day was on December 21st. It was, like I said, it has been, it’s been a long time putting together and we certainly are excited at what we’ve been able to do. We of course are in the first month, we have done about 8.24 million views [so far]. That’s total shows most of the individual clips on the show.
The show live streams on the Facebook, Periscope, and YouTube simultaneously. We, of course, our live at 6 p.m. eastern, and then we re-stream it multiple times over the next 24 hours before we do the next show.
When the show Washington Watch on TV One and things I’d done even before that got canceled, our audience still said that this was important, this was something that they felt was necessary and that they wanted us to do. So that’s exactly what we did.
So I think when you look at the response that we have gotten thus far, it shows that our audience is craving this information. They want this information. They want to be able to have the news of our perspective done our way, sticking to our issue and we understand that. We always understood that and that’s one of the reasons why I think we have been able to achieve the results that we’ve been able to achieve.
And so we want to be at source, that voice that speaks to issues, our concerns, and being unapologetic about it, so that’s one of the things that that we have been doing. We think that we’re certainly going to get far more viewers who will be able to really build upon that and again, our follow audience has stated perfectly clear they want to see more of it.
We have a full-fledged show. We go on live from locations. We tape other interviews and so this is absolutely a full-fledged daily news show. We’re gonna be on the road doing things, different things. And so for more details, all you gotta do is go to rolandmartinunfiltered.com.
Many of your loyal listeners really missed you after News One Now was off for a few months. And so would you describe to the audience that you feel that #RolandMartinUnfiltered, was your answer to that; or you feel was the best way to get to your listeners that also serves as a space where you feel you can just be open and non-apologetic of the topics that they love from you, similar to a lot of things that you have done in the past?
Well, the reality is I’ve always been unapologetic in my perspective. I’ve not been one to shy away from offering my opinion on these various issues and so that’s one of the reasons why my audience has always responded to that. And so, as a result, this was something that we wanted to be able to do, and with this, it allows us to be able to create a platform that goes beyond just this show. I have other individuals who’ve been reaching out to me, who want to be able to do other shows as well.
So, the ultimate goal for what we’re doing is actually to build this into a digital news network. But we understand that coming out of the gate, we wanna be able to do this thing right and do it properly. And that’s why we have been very methodical with our field and so again, I think what this does, it positions us to do exactly what we’ve always desired. Having this platform that reaches directly to our audience.
Look, there are a lot of people who are my fans who want to be able to watch the [TV] show, but who couldn’t watch the show because they didn’t have, and let’s say, Dish [Network] is a perfect example. We’re on Direct TV, but they didn’t have Dish. And so, you know, by looking at that, we now go, “Okay fine, how do we now reach both?”
And so I have lots of fans who in Canada, who are in Europe, in the Caribbean, who are now able to see the show. So I think when you think about unfiltered, it’s just, it’s not only from” okay the opinion’s being offered,” but also the ability to be able to access the show as well.
We have seen the significant role that social media has played in launching emerging leaders, especially during the past few years. Are there any individuals that come to mind for you, that appear that they may become some of our nation’s future leaders? Is there anyone that has sparked your interest or any individual that you feel is actually trying to speak up and being an advocate for the community?
Well, obviously you have individuals who are coming up and rising up. So, obviously you have that. So, that is happening. But I think one of the things that we need to understand is that … I think one of the big mistakes that people make is that we get caught up in this notion of well, who is going to be the next leap. And the reality is, that’s just not how we, sort of, operate. When I say, not how we operate, leadership is organic. Okay? Leadership rises in a different way. And when you say, how leadership comes up. It’s just really driven in a much completely different way than we are used to.
And I think that it is important to understand that when we look at where people are, and we look at how we define leadership, too many of us still focus on a model where we somehow believe Dr. King was the only leader. When in fact, you had individuals, who were in many other organizations, who were also leading. Who were also involved. Who were engaged in the issues of the day. And so, I think that, that’s always something that is important for us to understand.
So, I’m very excited about what we’re seeing. I think people also understand that this is not a situation where we can sit on the sidelines. Where we cannot be engaged. And so, I’m very excited about what I am seeing. But what I constantly explain people is, we need them to fully understand what is at stake and to spend the time, again, not just focusing on stepping out there and leading a rally or saying we’re going to launch an initiative. But taking the time to really break down what that is. What that means.
Lastly, let’s talk about something that is going make a major difference in our lives in about the next few days, two weeks, and that’s the midterm and voting. Can you share a little bit about your perspective on that and how it’s important for people of all ages and backgrounds to vote, and how it’s also going to make a difference?
I’ve emphasized that a lot this year – how much elections matter. We understand in terms of where people stand on those issues and so what we want to be able to do is to target our audience and let them know about critically important voter registration deadlines and things among those lines are and how all of those things matter.
And so, one of the things that folks have been dealing with when we talk about elections is, okay, being aware of the issues. I think that what we wanted to be able to do was to let them know, provide a platform for those candidates, and again what was happening, particularly in those critical House and Senate races, and that’s what we did.
We’ve really been on top of that from day one as well and so we know that cable networks will focus on just the big races but what about the small races?
We have some folks who are running for the DA who don’t necessarily get the kind of attention on national television shows. Well, we wanna be able to deal with those issues. And so, we are focused on all of that and I think providing a service to our audience that is critically important for them.
And so, I think one of the things that what we are seeing is that we are seeing folks who realize also that sitting out from voting is a huge mistake. And I think that is one of the lessons people have learned is that you might think that this one particular candidate is not really speaking to all of our issues but guess what? Somebody is still going to win.
And so I think people now realize that every single election matters as well and so you’re seeing people address those issues. Also I think that what we’re also witnessing, we’re witnessing a reality check when it comes to the future.
Check out the new daily digital show #RolanMartinUnfiltered at RolandMartinUnfiltered.com. And stay connected with Martin via social media on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , and Periscope (@rolandsmartin).
Meet Our Guest
Named one of TV Week’s “Top 12 To Watch In TV News,” Roland S. Martin is a nationally syndicated, award-winning journalist, author, and host. Known for his honest, unfiltered, and unapologetic commentary, Martin has garnered nearly 2 million followers across all of his social media platforms and is considered a major influencer. Martin was previously a host and managing editor at TV One Cable Network, where for four years he hosted NewsOneNow , the first daily morning show in history to focus on news and analysis of politics, entertainment, sports, and culture from an explicitly African American perspective. He also serves as a senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show, where his daily segment is heard by more than 8 million people across more than 100 stations nation-wide.
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