Not many people go on to own an individual sports talk radio station. Very few women do so and even less people of color.
Both a woman and a person of color own a sports talk radio station in Lincoln: 93.7 The Ticket.
Originally from Arlington, Virginia, Derrick Pearson, 59, has worked all over the country, from Charlotte and Los Angeles to Salt Lake City and Houston. Pearson has extensive experience in radio, coaching high school sports, running professional sports teams and as a life coach. Now in Lincoln, Pearson and his wife, Rebecca, wanted to be part of the community and did so by purchasing The Ticket.
Out of the more than 15,000 brick-and-mortar radio stations across the country, Pearson became just the 169th Black owner. Adding in a woman owner and that it’s a sports station, Pearson said the FCC and the National Association of Black Journalists aren’t sure how many other stations there are like The Ticket.
“We were told by the national association (National Association of Black Journalists) to be prepared to have conversations about it because there aren’t many,” Pearson said. “Those resources and relationships aren’t there, and then the perfect storm doesn’t happen where an existing owner wants to sell to a person of color or a woman who has the resources to do so in that market and are willing to do so.”
He said the opportunity doesn’t happen anywhere else in the country, and it’s a part of what makes Lincoln special.
Pearson considers himself a “child of the universe” by paying attention to signs. He first moved to Lincoln three years ago after receiving several signs it was the place for him.
Pearson hosts several shows each day talking primarily about Husker athletics. With 11 employees, those shows vary by having different guests and hosts that lead to different discussions. Pearson aims to make The Ticket a place where those in the minority have a voice and help give open, honest, factual stories about sports and the people in sports.
Mark Onwiler, the station’s general manager, said it’s important to him as the father of a girl to see people like Pearson and his wife get opportunities that should be available to every race and gender.
“For her to see a world without limitations, to see me happy to go to work each day and work in this environment with the people that are here, that’s important to me. I hope that she grows up in a world and an environment that’s afforded to her as well because that’s what we’re striving for, opportunities for all,” Onwiler said.
Rebecca is the perfect business partner, Pearson said, because she’s direct in how she sees the world and her business acumen is strong, but he can pull her away from the numbers and help her look at the people and relationships that are involved. They both want people in minority groups to know that Pearson is a representation of what they can become.
“You have to see it in order to even dream it. When I grew up, there weren’t that many black people on television or on radios. I was always aware, even when I went to Charlotte or D.C., that there weren’t many,” said Pearson.
He recognizes that Nebraska has some “pretty amazing women” in sports and the importance of having women in positions of authority for their voices to be heard.
“There aren’t many women who have the position of authority or power to make this thing happen and have input about what’s said on it and what you do with it. …We want to make sure they know that they have a home, and they have a place,” Pearson said.
Pearson said his new position at The Ticket is inspiring someone in the world to go after their dream.
“As a coach, I speak about this all of the time, it’s my job to look at you and say, ‘yes, you can.’ In this, I know that there are some folks out there who go,’maybe I could do the thing I want to do.’ I’m not special in any way, shape or form other than I’m really in tune to the universe, and I love people,” Pearson said.