iHeartMedia is launching the Black Information Network today (June 30), which it says is the “first and only 24/7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of news with a Black voice and perspective.”
The new network, which will be led by president Tony Coles, who also serves as iHeart’s division president of the iHeartMedia Markets Group, will be available on local news AM/FM stations, through the iHeartRadio app and through other connected platforms in the iHeart suite of offerings. It will also power news services for iHeart’s 91 hip-hop, R&B and gospel stations around the U.S., according to a press release from the company, including stations like New York’s Power 105.1, Los Angeles’ Real 92.3 and KMEL in San Francisco.
Initially, the network will be available in Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Greenville, Macon, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Norfolk, Riverside, San Francisco and Seattle. More markets are expected to be added over the next two months. BIN will be a freestanding unit backed by iHeartMedia, with national founding partners that include Bank of America, CVS, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon, which will assist in financing.
“BIN: Black Information Network will fill a void by providing continual news and objective information with full focus on the Black community,” Coles said in a statement. “We began developing our 24/7 Black news source last year, and events of the last few weeks, especially the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd, highlighted the need for this network. Now is the time for our voice to be heard, and I could not be more proud of our work and the team we are assembling at BIN.”
Last year, iHeart conducted a study that found that 83% of its Black listeners felt that a service like BIN would be important and fill a void in the news information market that is not filled by mainstream news today, while 86% felt that it was necessary and that they would value it as a news source. The concept also tested strongly across 18-34 and 35-54 demographics in the Black community, according to the company.
In addition to Coles, who has been in the radio business for 35 years, iHeart announced that veteran radio producer, anchor and broadcaster Tanita Myers will serve as director of news operations for BIN. The network will also have an advisory board of community leaders from inside and outside the company. BIN is currently hiring for additional positions.
“We are pleased and proud to support the launch of BIN: Black Information Network by contributing resources that will have the greatest impact — our reach, our multiple platforms, our technology infrastructure and our broad, in-depth relationships with consumers,” iHeartMedia chairman/CEO Bob Pittman said in a statement. “The commitment to service and the immediate need we saw for a news and information destination for the Black community accelerated the launch of BIN: Black Information Network to serve this community in an important new way. We are honored to be joined by some of the most important companies in the world that are also committed to this mission.”