Dallas, TX – Catherine Cuellar: Although Texas isn't considered a swing state in this year's presidential election, Curtis Wilbert, known as "Big Brother Curtis" on gospel station 1040 AM, doesn't want that to keep his listeners away from the polls. While talking to barbershop patrons during his haircut, he got inspired to improve voter registration.
"Big Brother" Curtis Wilbert, Coordinator, "One Purpose, One Cause": I was thinking because of the past election, with all the votes that wasn't accounted for, that in this election, what you do is, if you have more people vote, then you would win by a landslide instead of it being on an even keel. So I just thought if more people would vote then more voices would be heard.
Cuellar: This simple idea led to Curtis' first-ever political initiative, the "One Purpose, One Cause" campaign. Subsequently, he persuaded nine other concerned African-American and Latino broadcasters to produce a series of public service announcements, or PSA's, like this one:
"Smokin'" Kevan Browning, K-Soul: Hi, this is Smokin' Kevan Browning...
Joyce Brown, Brown: This is Joyce Ann Brown. It doesn't matter if you spent four years at Harvard...
Browning: ...or four years in Huntsville, your vote counts the same.
Brown: Unlock your vote. If you have a prior felony conviction...
Browning: ...in other words "off paper," you can register to vote. For more information, call 1-800-252-VOTE.
Cuellar: Through "One Purpose, One Cause," marquee talent from competing commercial radio stations, like K-Soul's Browning and the Beat's "Action Jaxson," will be heard on each other's airwaves. To make it happen, Wilbert had to overcome broadcaster's egos, wary bosses, and partisan politics.
Wilbert: Democrats were coming to us, Republicans, and I just decided that it's not about the parties, it's not about the candidates. It's just about doing something together as a group.
Cuellar: In September, a dozen broadcast stations and community newspapers in the campaign will urge voter registration. In October, "One Purpose, One Cause" will promote early voting, culminating with Super Sunday on October 25th, when listeners will be asked to go to the polls after church.
Bob Lydia, President, Dallas NAACP: 'Cause on Election Day, we have a tendency sometime to go fishing, we're not sure we're at the right place. If we can encourage people to go out early, that is what we want to do.
Cuellar: Bob Lydia is organizing volunteers to match the media efforts.
Lydia: With the radio and newspaper personalities coming out, saying "We want to make a difference," we applaud them and say "Look, what can we do?" We have the foot soldiers. They have the voice, the papers, so forth.
Cuellar: Longtime Dallas DJ Rikki Rincon is helping involve Latinos in the campaign.
Rikki Rincon, Artistik Media: I think in the minority community have maybe felt like their voice isn't important. But I believe what happened after the last Presidential election affected strongly as to how people realize their voice does count, especially what happened in Florida, and our goal is to just encourage people to get out and vote, whichever party they decide, is their choice, but make a difference, let your voice be heard so the numbers grow strong within the minority community.
Cuellar: Organizers are focusing on the two largest minority groups, Latinos and African-Americans. One Purpose, One Cause is still ramping up. They don't have any fixed numerical goals. But organizers think that if minorities get the message that voting doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming, it will make a difference in North Texas when their votes are counted. For KERA 90.1, I'm Catherine Cuellar.
Email Catherine Cuellar about this story.