By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY – Raymond Tyler has a knack of bringing people together, whether it through his radio shows at WLFR and WTTH-FM as one of few African-American voices on the air in South Jersey or through his networking events in Atlantic City and other nearby locations.
Just don’t call him “the” voice of African-Americans in the area.
“I had to correct someone about that,” Tyler said recently in an exclusive interview with Front Runner New Jersey.com. “I will never own being the voice of any community. I always try to keep that in mind. I’m a voice in the community, one with an opinion and one that needs to be heard for those who don’t have a voice in this community.
“We don’t have a (black) newspaper, or radio station, or even a television station in Atlantic City at the moment. Like any view, we (as African-Americans) all have our own views. No one person can speak for it,” he added.
Tyler, though, has a pretty expansive voice. His radio show “The Light” can heard locally on WLFR and he also produces several podcasts. He has a regular newspaper column that is featured in The Shore Weekly.
Tyler said that he hopes to use that voice as a broadcaster and journalist to shine a light on people and events who usually don’t receive the attention they deserve.
“I remember one time covering a math rodeo for a local high school,” Tyler said. “The main newspaper in town didn’t show up to cover it. Newspapers with their small staffs today have to pick and choose what they need to cover.
“But it was important for those young people to have someone in our community cover what they were doing at the math rodeo and I was proud to be able to cover it and document what they did there,” Tyler said.
Covering things like that math rodeo are personal to Tyler, who grew up in Atlantic City. His father, Raymond Tyler Sr., was one of the first African-Americans to join the Carpenters Local Union No. 623 in Atlantic City. He had worked on every major casino in the city until he retired in 2001. He died in 2012.
“My father worked for the carpenters union and allowed for us to have a good life and my brother to go to college,” Tyler said, adding that he learned his sense of independence from him. “I want to make sure to leave something behind the like my father left something behind for us.”
Tyler’s brother, Mark Tyler, was a reporter for the Press of Atlantic City for 10 years before starting his own business in real estate and advertising. Tyler said he even dreams one day of opening a newspaper with his brother. Those plans changed when Mark Tyler was hired by The Press.
A 1986 graduate of Atlantic City High School, Tyler has worked as a writer, photographer and or artist/cartoonist and for national publications like Essence, Vibe and The Source magazines, New York Press and The Philadelphia Weekly.
“I started getting freelance jobs as graphic artist,” Tyler said about his first jobs in the media. “I started working as a writer because I believed the more things you know how to do, the more valuable I am to a company.”
Tyler hosts monthly local networking events around Atlantic City and South Jersey. He held an event in April at The Bourre club in Atlantic City. His next event in June 9 will be held in Voorhies Town Center in Camden County. He is also planning a cruise networking event June 26 out of Atlantic City.
“I remember in high school we had one black radio station and loved the disc jockeys there and said that’s going to be me one day,” Tyler said. “The deejays and the general manager of the station would never came to the high school and talk about opportunities.
“Fast forward as to why I started the networking events. It’s about bringing a mix of people together who are successful to talk about how we can get there. I want to bring together people of all backgrounds together to connect, network and figure out what they need to figure out,” he said.
Tyler said his “art and music” networking events are meant to bring creatives, business owners and other like-minded people to the table in hopes that the right introductions will create the spark for new ideas and ventures.
“Rather than spending all of my time fighting with you trying to justify or explain why I need a seat at your table, I can create my own table and think for myself,” Tyler said. “That’s what I’ve done. When I couldn’t find a network that worked for me, I created my own network. I created my own writing series. If somebody’s reading this and they feel like they’ve been shut out or whatever, they have options.”
It is a chance for Tyler to leave something behind, like his father did.