Monica Conyers talks domestic violence on radio show

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

Southfield — Former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers hosted her first show on 910 AM Supersation Sunday afternoon, addressing recent killings in Metro Detroit and domestic violence issues concerning men and women.

Conyers, 51, started the segment admitting she was “a little bit nervous. I haven’t been on the radio in the long time.”

It didn’t take long for Conyers to feel at ease behind the mic, taking questions from callers with in-studio guests: therapist and sex trafficking survivor Joyce Dixson-Haskett and Darwin Griffin, executive director at Elite Technical Institute. She also set the precedence for her show on Sundays 1-2 p.m., emphasizing that she plans to avoid negativity.

“This is going to be a clean show. Detroit has so much that it’s in need of. Detroit has so much potential. The people of Detroit are good people. So my show is going to be about uplifting people in the city of Detroit and how we as a community can come together to help one another as opposed to some of the things that have happened recently,” she said, mentioning recent incidences of parents killing their children, including a Dearborn Heights father who allegedly killed his four children and shot his wife last week.

A few times during the show, Conyers spoke directly to domestic violence victims and men and women facing relationship issues, providing encouragement to leave a harmful situation.

“You don’t have to stay with anybody for finances, you don’t have to stay with anybody because you don’t have any place to go, you don’t have to stay there because you think no one is going to treat you better, no one is going to love you better,” she said. “You will not know until you try on your own to leave a situation and I know it may be hard in the beginning… (and) it may not always come out the way you want to, but I guarantee if you try, it’s going to be better.”

Conyers also emphasized that it’s OK to seek help and later in the show recommended local organizations that offer assistance in domestic violence cases, including First Step, Hiatus House and Haven.

“If you feel you have issues, there is nothing wrong with people going to seek out help. It doesn’t make you crazy just means that I recognize that I have a problem or I am going to have a problem and before this gets any worse I am going to fix this for me. Not for the other person, but for me.”

Conyers is married to John Conyers Jr., the longest serving U.S. Congressman at age 87. The couple of 25 years filed for divorce last year, but renewed their wedding vows in August — prompting speculation that the two might be reconciling.

During the show, Conyers didn’t address her marital status, but she did discuss the effect of domestic violence and marital issues on children.

“In my house, if I have a problem with my sons’ father, I don’t discuss that with my sons because that’s not their business. What I do discuss with my sons is something that may happen that may affect them,” she said, adding, “If I’m going to have an argument with their father I say, ‘I think we need to go into the basement and have a conversation’ because I knew this is going to get heated.”

On the subject of kids, she shared other relationship advice imparted from her grandmother: “My grandmother has a big saying: ‘Don’t sleep with nobody that you don’t want to have a baby with,’” she said.

“Listen, there’s protection that women can use, there’s protection that men can choose. You don’t have to have unprotected sex. You just don’t. So when you decide to go out there and have unprotected sex, you have already made a decision that I know a baby can come from this. And if a baby comes, you just can’t force a woman to get an abortion if that’s not what she wants to do.”

Throughout the show, callers chimed in with their thoughts on how men in the African-American community treat women. Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans also called in to explain what a domestic relations personal protection order is and what actions people can take if they are being harassed by significant others..

Conyers wrapped up the segment by saying she decided to do the show because she has “so much to talk about and so much to give this community.”

Other talk show hosts on the station, which dubs itself the “largest voice for African-Americans,” include include Christine Beatty, former chief of staff to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick; former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., political consultant Steve Hood, and Karen Dumas, former spokeswoman for Detroit Mayors Dave Bing and Kilpatrick.

Adding Conyers to the lineup is likely a move to draw in new listeners, said media analyst Matt Friedman, co-founder of public relations firm Tanner Friedman in Farmington Hills.

“Talk radio is a personality-driven format so having familiar, intriguing personalities is one way of attracting listeners,” he said.

Conyers was elected to was elected to the Detroit City Council in 2005. In 2010, she went to federal prison for accepting financial bribes after she pleaded guilty to City Hall corruption charges. She was released from probation in August 2014.

David Bangura, 910AM’s vice president and general manager, told Crain’s Detroit Business that the station averaged about 25,000 unique listeners per week in June. Of those, about 15,600 listeners were African American.

The station launched in November 2015 after 910AM Superstation CEO Kevin Adell bought the frequency from Disney Radio LLC. This summer, the station showed up on the Nielsen audio ratings the first time. According to Friedman, Disney Radio, the previous station using the frequency 910 AM, didn’t even show up in the ratings.

“Their audience was so small it couldn’t even be measured by what is now the Nielsen system,” Friedman said.

While the August rating of 0.1 was at the bottom end of the ratings (WMGC-FM topped the list at 8.0), Friedman said that doesn’t matter when evaluating the station’s current success.

“Instead of a letter grade, it’s like they’re being judged by pass-fail,” he said. “They’re passing at this point. That frequency under different ownership and a different format was not passing this test.”

Friedman added that the “radio start-up” is posing “competition for attention, if not for ratings” in the Detroit marketplace, and Conyers’ new show is one way to distract listeners from tuning into other stations.

“It’s part of an obviously bigger strategy to draw attention and interest in what they’re trying to do,” he said.

(313) 222-2156

Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg