From the start, Gospel Music Channel trumpeted its determination to be a network that embraces diversity in its ranks to match the diversity of its content. Nearly two months after launching on Cox and other operators in 30 cities, more than half of the newbie net’s 15 full-time and seven part-time employees are people of color. The staff roster in that category includes operations/production VP Alex Stevens, Western affiliate sales director Sonya DeRose and senior program scheduling manager Rick Joyner. Joyner also doubles as host of the channel’s nightly Faith & Fame profiles of famous gospel artists. In order to mirror the gospel scene, which embraces blues, Latin and hip-hop directions, "it was important to ensure that the network represents the diversity of both the artists and the fan base," says Gospel Music Channel CEO Charles Humbard. "We wanted this to be a natural part of operations." During their hunt for talent, Humbard and network vice chairman Brad Siegel contacted NAMIC’s local chapter in its Atlanta home base for assistance. Other referrals came from former BET/ESPN executive and current president of the T. Howard Foundation, Curtis Symonds, and from gospel radio job banks. Joyner came over from the gospel radio; DeRose, a cable veteran, was director of affiliate sales and marketing, Southwest region, at E! Networks. Humbard estimates about 60% of the network’s staffers have cable backgrounds, with the rest from radio and elsewhere. He anticipates expanding to 33 employees over the next six months, and you can count on him spreading a wide, all-inclusive net. "The power of this channel will live in diversity," he says.

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