When the culture is at the forefront of the content, everyone wins.
For decades, Sway Calloway and Rahman J. Dukes have been committed to sharing stories with our people in mind. Initially, they were the brains and face behind the popular MTV News segments throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Now, they are on a mission to lead the way when it comes to content that truly reflects the Black experience in America through POLARIS, a 100 percent Black-owned streaming platform.
With iconic journalists like Calloway and Shaheem Reid behind the platform, along with Dukes, who was a former executive at both MTV News and REVOLT TV, it’s the perfect recipe for success that does not require sacrifices from the people that the content is specifically designed for.
The Power In A Name
The name of the streaming platform POLARIS stems from the North Star — the constellation known for helping people find their way, which is what they aim to do through the content on the service.
“This particular name was a vision that Rahman saw and thought represented what we were, what we’re doing, and what we’re about to do,” Calloway told AfroTech in an exclusive interview. “We are storytellers. We are masters of technology. We are culture keepers. We are visionaries, naturally — that’s how we came into entertainment. Initially, we were lending a lot of our intellectual property out to other major corporations who didn’t care about the same things we cared about. We also lent our talents, and loaned them out to other corporations who didn’t appreciate it and didn’t put the value on them that they deserved. So, POLARIS really is a North Star –that’s the star to look at when you’re trying to find your direction. If you’re lost in the desert and you don’t know what way you’re moving, you see that North Star, and you know which direction to take.”
POLARIS is set to include content that covers news, both locally and globally, as it pertains to the culture and more.
For The Culture, By The Culture
“One of our biggest assets that we’re really proud about is that we actually have Black technology,” Dukes said. “We don’t have to run around and say that we’re Black. That’s why we’re just POLARIS. This is a culmination of about damn near 30 years of strategizing and making sure that we’re messaging this in the right way.”
Unlike the companies that serve the culture on a platter that isn’t really backing and shedding light on some of the real experiences that we face, POLARIS is here to not only shake the table but serve as a home to creatives in need of a place where they know that the content that they are creating will matter.
As previously reported by AfroTech, POLARIS was launched late last year. With big aspirations, POLARIS — a fast channel in partnership with VIZIO — recorded a record high in session numbers during their Black History Month marathon. The data network has seen an increase in its ad network as they look to expand into additional partnerships in the streaming and linear network.
“We’re only going to continue to grow, we’re going to hit a carriage of platforms very soon,” Dukes expressed. “I want it to resonate in this world for people to understand how we are some smart, young Black businessmen. We know how to do it just as well as anybody else and we know how to go about it and this is based on years of experience.”
For Calloway, there’s no competition. The goal is simply to see the culture win.
“We’re not in competition with anybody else, there’s no comparison to me,” he shared. “That’s what success looks like with POLARIS is to also have collaborative efforts to help elevate each other.”
Currently, the 24/7 culture channel is available in millions of households via VIZIO’S Smartcast TV and their free streaming service, WatchFree+, and has exclusive content coming down the pipeline including a music video from the late great actor Michael K. Williams.
To catch the full interview with Sway Calloway and Rahman Dukes on AfroTech Live, download the BlavityTV app.
Editorial Note: This piece has been updated since initially published.