For the past five years, Jean-Pierre Brice has been cultivating radio content that uplifts Chester, Pa., a city about 15 miles south of Philadelphia that has previously been under-served by local media. His experience with the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange program helped him further fulfill that mission.
Brice is the founder and CEO of CMP Radio, an internet radio station based in Chester. The organization’s mission, as its name indicates, is to cultivate mature positivity by not only bringing information to the people of Chester but by also amplifying voices across Delaware County. In addition to broadcasting music, the station hosts a variety of talk shows and podcasts that cover topics like local news, sports coverage, mental health, and entrepreneurship.
The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange launched in March 2022 as an accelerator program for local BIPOC media entrepreneurs by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. Over the following five months, participants went through training on operations, revenue and monetization, and marketing and branding to help their businesses grow and thrive. They also each received grant support, professional coaching, and training from the Zebras Unite Co-Op and Black and Brown Founders.
CMP Radio has had a significant impact on the Chester community since its founding in 2017.
“Our community has been affected by the positivity that we spread, the inspiration that we give, and the motivation that we share,” Brice said.
We recently spoke with Brice about his time participating in the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange. He shared how his coach and fellow founders impacted his experience, the main challenge he had to overcome during the process, and the role that community plays in his work.
This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Kiara Santos contributed reporting.
Tell us a bit about the project(s) you worked on as part of PMFE.
CMPRadio.net is an internet radio station located in Chester/Upland Pa., but we service all of Delaware County. We host a different variety of podcasts and talk shows, we are in the community asking questions, and we also film and record football and basketball games.
What problem were you trying to solve initially, and why was solving the problem strategically important for your organization?
I never really thought of CMP as a real business, but once we entered the cohort it was very obvious that we are. Now, becoming a business is hard because we have to find the money to keep us alive, but things are starting to come together.
What were your biggest takeaways from the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange? What did you gain from the formal programming and coaching? What did you learn from your fellow founders?
My biggest takeaway was how personable everyone was; it was a breath of fresh air to be able to talk to someone who knew exactly where I was coming from. In terms of coaching, because of my busy schedule, I really wasn’t able to always meet with my coach, but when I did, I always left with a better understanding. From my fellow founders, I took an energy of continued success. I personally suffered from a stroke during the program. My speech was jacked up, my memory was suffering, and I was very tired, but if I would have stopped, the station would have stopped. Everyone was highly concerned with my health and I appreciated that immensely.
How has this work impacted the community you serve?
We have just celebrated our five-year anniversary, and I can say that our community has been affected by the positivity that we spread, the inspiration that we give, and the motivation that we share. I look forward to the work we can continue to do here in this community for the next 50 years.
Were there any unexpected plans or challenges that you had to overcome during the program? What did you learn from it?
The stroke really had me second guessing myself – not wanting to talk; scared that I would mess up or forget something. I am still in speech therapy but I will continue to give my community this platform so that their voices can be heard and seen.
How did the program contribute to your sense of power and/or self-efficacy in creating change in Philadelphia’s media ecosystem?
Being from Chester and not from Philly, I feel like Chester is a small community where everybody knows someone that knows you, and I just wanted our community to understand what that means. When one of us is hurt we are all hurting, and we cannot forget that it doesn’t work for us to be able to move forward without understanding how and when to communicate.
What’s next? How are you planning to continue this work?
CMP stands for cultivating mature positivity, and we’ll continue to do just that: cultivating positive messages for our community. We will continue to be out in the community covering functions and making sure that we create a narrative that is acceptable in our community – one that fosters Cultivating Mature Positivity.