Black-owned radio still influences Las Vegas 50 years later

Power 88.1 KCEP Logo on the wall inside the studio. (Photo Credit: Malcolm Ferrouillet)

By Malcolm Ferrouillet


Las Vegas is home to one of the most influential Black-run community radio stations in the nation, KCEP-FM Power 88.1.

Power 88.1 KCEP Logo on the wall inside the studio. (Photo Credit: Malcolm Ferrouillet)

The station provides more than just music and talk shows, but serves as a voice for the Black community, said Power 88.1 personality Amber Blow, known by listeners as “Ambeezy” and host of the morning drive-time show.

As the oldest radio station in Las Vegas, Power 88.1 plays mostly R&B music and has been voted the city’s No. 1 public news station.

For example, Blow said during the contentious 2020 election, Power 88.1 hosted a voter drive to help ensure that community members had access to vote. The initiative had such a huge turnout that around 7,000 people showed up to cast their ballots early, an example of how the station persevered during the pandemic, Blow said.

“I think that we have a huge responsibility of looking out for each other because outside of the communities of people of color, everything is so against us,” she said.

This isn’t the station’s only notable accomplishment. In addition to discussing topics such as social justice, real estate and even life insurance, Blow said the station is in the process of making the morning show, “The All New Wake Up Squad,” an all-female crew.

Amber “Ambeezy” Blow discussed the role 88.1 plays in the community. Photo taken by Malcolm Ferrouillet

“That’s the kind of impact that our radio station continues to have on our community and historically we’ve always done things of that nature to make sure that we’re OK.”

Also coming soon to Power 88.1, will be a show co-hosted by TaShika Lawson, a community activist and a key player in the Historic Westside Las Vegas Revitalization group.

Lawson said her program will be called “Let’s Talk About It,” and the goal will be informing listeners about ways to access city services and receive advice from local experts.

“In our community, as we know, we have a lot of unique cultural barriers that have traditionally been in place and our goal is to be able to have a conversation of ‘OK so this is an expert who’s from our community that’s going to identify some of these problems and how we can navigate around them,’” Lawson said.

Lawson added that she and her co-host will be committed to creating a space that shares resources with first-time Black business owners.

“Because we are told that we have to be so strong when it comes to actually needing help, when it comes to getting to that next level, or at the very least being able to compete on the same field as a lot of our non-Black counterparts,” she said.

Lawson said even though people in the Black community are starting businesses, it isn’t easy.

“There’s not a lot of resources that aren’t going to cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars or aren’t going to cost us more time than most businesses have the ability to pivot around,” she said.

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