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Top Radio Personalities in Milwaukee Take to the Airwaves To Combat Spiraling Overdose Deaths in Black Communities

Vital Strategies and City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs to Launch Three-Month Radio Campaign

Top radio personalities in Milwaukee are taking to the airwaves and raising awareness in a campaign to stem the rising tide of overdose deaths in the Black community. They will urge audiences to take action and promote naloxone as a crucial tool to save lives.   

The radio hosts participating in the campaign include Jammin’ 98.3 Personalities Earl Stokes and Don Black, AUDACY Radio/Hot 105.7 morning host Promise, and iHeartMedia/V100.7 FM afternoon drive host Reggie Brown. The campaign will air on the three local radio stations starting August 14 and run through November.   

Fatal overdoses among Black people in Milwaukee County increased by 52% between 2020 and 2021, the highest rate of increase of any racial group. Vital Strategies and the City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs are teaming up with influential radio personalities and their radio stations in Milwaukee to empower Black communities to take action.   

“This radio campaign shines a light on the overdose crisis and the racial inequities that prevent Black people from accessing live saving harm reduction tools like naloxone,” said Gloria Malone, Digital Strategist and Senior Manager for the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies. “Harm reduction means meeting people where they are, and open and honest conversations about how to address drug use with loved ones can destigmatize drug use and build trust. Local radio hosts have always spoken up about local issues, and we’re proud to partner with them to get the word out about how the overdose crisis disproportionality impacts the Black community and how that no longer needs to be the case.”   

The campaign will highlight that in the United States, overdose is now the leading cause of death among people under 50 and that overdose deaths are rising most rapidly in the Black community. Listeners will be urged to get naloxone free of charge through the City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs, any fire station, and grassroots organizations such as Samad’s House. Naloxone, also known by the brand-name Narcan, is a safe and easy to use medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, including respiratory depression. Most importantly, naloxone is proven to save lives and drastically reduce incidents of fatal overdose.    

Our community is being devastated by overdose. In 2021, the overdose mortality rate in Wisconsin for Black people was more than double the national rate and overdose for Black Wisconsinites increased ninefold from 2001 to 2021,” said Darryl Davidson, Director of the City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs. “Working with local and trusted radio hosts can help bring overdose awareness and prevention to Black communities and ultimately save lives.”    

The campaign will also make clear that it is not only opioid users who are at risk of an overdose. “One driver of overdose deaths in the Black community is the number of stimulant users overdosing and dying,” said Diana Kumar, a program manager for the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies. “It is crucial that people who use cocaine and methamphetamines also carry naloxone as their drugs might contain fentanyl without them even knowing it.”  

In addition to providing resources on where and how people can access naloxone, the radio ads are building support for harm reduction, a public health approach to drug use that places the health and dignity of people who use drugs as the first priority of any response. Harm reduction strategies range from providing people with items such as naloxone and syringes, to health care and supportive services like medications for opioid use disorder, an evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, and affordable housing.   

About Vital Strategies   

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our overdose prevention program works to strengthen and scale evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to create equitable and sustainable reductions in overdose deaths. Work across seven U.S. States is supported by funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative, launched in 2018, and by targeted investments from other partners.   

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About City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs   

The City of Milwaukee created the Office of African American Affairs (OAAA) by City ordinance to promote equal opportunities for African American residents in areas including (but not limited to): employment, education, job training, housing, health care, and more to address and provide referral services to address the multitude of challenges that result in social and economic disadvantages.

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