Updated: Sep 21
Four Things to Know About Black-Owned TV Network Entrepreneur
1. HBCU Graduate
A devout Christian, April Ross knows all she's obtained in life comes from God. As a graduate of Alabama State University ('01) with a bachelor's degree in communications, Ross says she owes a large part of her lifelong success to her alma mater and their gifted faculty. Not only did she learn the basics and advanced principles in communication, she was also taught discipline, how to set goals and attain them, and on-air presence based on the principles taught in her communication and speech classes.
If you wish to obtain your dreams, her advice is to work hard, learn well, and persevere through the hard times. As fate would have it, she interned at WJCN as an undergraduate, and now she owns it!
I learned so much from the University's Communications Department and owe it and Professor ‘O’ a lot for who I am and where I am today. ASU was where I first filmed news stories on camera, learned to splice film on a tape, to have a good voice on-air, which I know occurred after being a weekend anchor at ASU's WVAS 90.7 Radio.
2. Grateful for Mentor
In addition to her alma mater, she credits Teresa Whitaker, an anchor at Columbus' WRBL TV-3, with contributing to her success. Having spent nearly 40 years as its main anchor, Whitaker says she noticed Ross early on when she worked as a production assistant behind the cameras in the control room.
I saw her star quality early - she shined. I began schooling her on how to write news stories, edit them, dress the part and present news in such a manner as to both state the facts and present it in a way that would be of interest to our viewers. She was a quick student, and the rest is history.
3. Follow Your Instincts
In 2017 while a reporter at CBS WRBL News-3 in Columbus, GA, a deputy sheriff was shot when she was visiting LaGrange. There were no local reporters to cover the story, so she did an exclusive live report in the area using her smart phone on social media.
The success of her live news channel led to her pursuing a business venture to deliver breaking news stories on her own television station. In May 2021, she purchased WJCN, which broadcasts 24/7 on Spectrum Cable to more than 600,000 households in 11 counties in both West Georgia and East Alabama.
I covered the [deputy sheriff story] on Facebook Live, which helped my social media presence grow in excess of 15,000 followers. This was the catalyst for Bee-TV and ultimately contributed to my purchase of WJCN.
4. Black-Owned TV Network in Georgia
Ross calls her parent company the Bee-TV Network and her goal is to transition her new television station to a major network affiliate in the area. Once it's firmly entrenched and viewed in the local market, she will back off delivering breaking news on her Facebook page so her followers will instead obtain their news from her television station. Ross wants to provide residents with what best suits their community needs, tastes, standards and interests, while hiring and honing local talent into TV on-air personalities.
I want to create something in this television market that has never occurred before: creating and producing great local programming for our community that’s full of home-area content.