People outside of Utah have funny ideas about the state. It's the last place, they seem to think, where minorities can thrive. The truth is just the opposite, according to the co-producer and host of a locally produced television program on minority issues.
"People tend to think that Utah is a foreign place for blacks and minorities. I tend to think just the opposite is true for those who want to get in," said James Brown, who is also president of Salt and Pepper Marketing Inc., a full-service public relations and marketing concern. "This community is far ahead of where everyone thinks it is."In Utah, there are real advantages, including our work-force capabilities and the fact that the cost of living is a little lower. People can come here and live better."
His optimistic view doesn't ignore what he believes has been a void in communication for blacks and other minorities in the state. Brown and partner Kent Capener believed that the approximately 129,990 minority Utahns haven't had a voice over broadcast and cable systems in the state.
Working with a group called the Black Coalition, which includes local black leaders, Capener and Brown decided to write and produce an interview/talk-show program that would focus on education, communication and services for minorities. The result is "New Horizons," which Channel 14 airs at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. The program is also offered at varied times on KUED Channel 7, KULC Channel 9, on the cable network and on KISN and KRSP Radio.
"We talked to a lot of people about the concept, and two things kept coming up: There's a real attempt on the part of the system to communicate to minorities. And there's a real attempt on the part of the minority community to communicate to the system. But they don't quite get it done," said Capener. "Second, there's a need to find and hire qualified minority members."
The program, Brown stresses, is not "just another public-affairs program." It's about the economic development and valuable resources that Utah has to offer to the total community," Brown said. "Sometimes, when you're a minority, you tend to think `me.' `I'm interested in black issues.' `I'm interested in Asian issues.' . . . If for the sake of concept we work as one community, we better ourselves overall individually. We want to make sure that `New Horizons' is a catalyst for the total community as well as the state of Utah."
KUED has donated studio space and production. TCI Cablevision underwrites part of the cost and rebroadcasts it. Capener and Brown have picked up part of the cost themselves while they seek a more solid funding foundation. The interesting thing, according to Brown, has been the response. The advisory board includes representatives from various ethnic groups, state agencies, public officials, educational offices, media and others. The guests are just as diverse, ranging from entertainment specialists to officials, educators and anyone else who has something to say to Utahns.
"It's a formidable ingredient to help disseminate information," said Brown. "But we need the community to get involved. We need programs to tell us what they're doing. Every topic we cover - business, job training, employment, education, health, politics, basic communication - is unending. There's so much there. We want to set an example. There are resources out there. But the information's not getting out. There's a movement afoot to say we have to consider all our people. Our job is to facilitate that desire."
Issues are not only of interest to the minorities like blacks, Afro-Americans, Asians, Indians and Hispanics but to the majority white population, as well.
For more information on the program or how to help sponsor it, call 363-3066.