Transforming the Narrative: The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange Revenue Summit

By Nathan Mutale & Jos Duncan Asé

December 6, 2023

2023 PMFE Fellow Sajda “Purple” Blackwell of PQ Radio One. Photo by Zamani Feelings.

Philadelphia’s media leaders gathered at the first Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange Revenue Summit to shift narratives and empower media entrepreneurs to create their own “deck of cards” by building sustainable businesses. 

Summit sessions focused on key revenue areas such as pursuing venture capital investments, philanthropy, and audience support. Participants also shared strategies for how to successfully manage the human side of starting and running a business. 

“We empower each other in our community, intentionally informing other entrepreneurs about resources and opportunities,” said Jos Duncan Asé, the founder of Love Now Media and the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange project lead. 

“We’re collaborating with each other, hiring each other, and trusting each other’s strengths. It truly feels like we’re in it together,” she said.  

The Founders Exchange is a community-grounded accelerator program supporting BIPOC media entrepreneurs from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund with additional support by the Independence Public Media Foundation. 

The personal impact of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship isn’t just about dollars and cents — founders invest their own time, energy, and well-being into the success of their ventures. And sustainability requires more than a successful business plan. 

Deldep Medina, the founder of Black and Brown Founders, spoke about the need for entrepreneurs to confront their own history with money. 

“You cannot create intergenerational wealth until you actually heal some traumas around money. And that’s why I’m here,” she said.

Duncan Asé shared the highs and lows of her journey as a media entrepreneur and the awakening that led to revenue generation as a core theme of the day. 

M. Tonita Austin, an accountant and founder of The Wealth Activator followed with a powerful interactive workshop about the psychology of money and people’s relationship to it. The session evoked vulnerable stories from the fellows and attendees that revealed pride, shame, insecurities, and feelings that were often unspoken of in people’s day to day interactions with money. 

Lenfest Institute Executive Director & CEO Jim Friedlich underscored the importance of supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs and media in the context of Philadelphia being a majority-minority city. Despite challenges in financing and access to capital, Friedlich emphasized that there is not a challenge in creativity.

 ”It’s one of the most creative groups of entrepreneurs we’ve ever worked with, and we hope to support them as best we can,” he said.

The transformative power of the Founders Exchange

The Revenue Summit ignited a beacon of optimism for attendees by reinforcing the belief that BIPOC entrepreneurs have the power to construct their destiny, shape narratives, and lead thriving businesses. This is a testament to the resilient spirit of entrepreneurship, creating a new chapter of growth, empowerment, and equity

The Summit also underscored the transformative power of the Philadelphia Founders Exchange program, which was evident in the experiences shared by 2023 PMFE Fellow Sajda “Purple” Blackwell of PQ Radio One. She lauded the Founders Exchange for helping her understand her value and affirming that her platform mattered as she celebrated her radio station’s 10th anniversary. 

“The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange has been transformative, changing our thoughts, our ideas and the way we put our ideas into motion,” she said. “And to know that we matter, we are valued, and it’s OK to think big. It’s OK to want to have $1 million to do everything and know that you can get it, and that you can do it, and that you deserve it.”

2023 PMFE Fellow Cherri Gregg, founder of Create Genius Media, attended the Summit with the primary goal of learning how to effectively budget time and corporate funding.

“This event is really a ‘Get your stuff together so you can get your money’ type of event because a lot of us don’t really know what we need to say or what we need to do to get access to grant funding or how we should be looking at corporate sponsorships,” she said.

Gregg, who also serves as a radio journalist for WHYY, designed Create Genius Media as a space for marginalized creators in the media industry to cover topics such as social justice and public affairs. 

“I’ve opened my eyes,” she said. “I’ve seen how entrepreneurship is empowering and how you can have freedom and creativity and serve audiences that I think a lot of times are overlooked, or neglected.”

Local News Solutions

The Lenfest Institute provides free tools and resources for local journalism leaders to develop sustainable strategies to serve their communities.

Find Your News Solution
news solution pattern