David Kantanka is helping build the future of Black-owned media

—It is Black History Month, and every day this month, The Message will be sharing short profiles of Black professionals from across the industry: marketing, advertising, PR, media and production. Written by POCAM members, the profiles are a way to “fight invisibility,” an exercise in representation for an industry where representation must get better—

David Kantanka, chief operating officer of RapTV, the largest hip-hop community in the world and the pulse of the culture, is a true renaissance man, having studied and worked across a variety of industries. Prior to his leadership role at RapTV, Kantanka worked as account director at Trevor/Peter, and also co-founded Jordan Sook Studios.

“My interests are a pretty good representation of my personality, diverse and maybe even all over the place,” says Kantanka. “I am extremely passionate about innovation, music and pop culture, so the opportunity to make impactful decisions and work on something that spans the world, and in different spaces, is important. This is what initially attracted me to this space, as well as the ability to be a part of RapTV on the ground floor.”

Breaking into the media industry took time, but Kantanka credits his experience as an entrepreneur for his ability to navigate things quickly, including dealing with microaggressions. “I learned early that these things exist, and to do my best to stay focused, keep pushing through and focus on personal growth and understanding of oneself.”

Based on his experience, he offers this valuable advice to young people looking to break into the industry: “Find ways to connect with people that are in the positions you are in,” he says. “Attend networking events, find mutual connections and put yourself in the rooms that can help you land your opportunity. And cold outreach can work. Don’t get discouraged!”

That sentiment applies to the broader state of Black-owned media in Canada, which represents an opportunity for brands to engage consumers and grow revenue. In recent years, media agencies like IPG Mediabrands and GroupM have made commitments to invest at least +2% of total annual media budgets in Black-owned media.

“It’s good to see media agencies beginning to invest in Black-owned media, especially considering the fact that the cultural moments Black communities contribute to far exceed 2% in popular mainstream culture,” said Kantanka.

Meanwhile, Kantanka’s work at RapTV continues to take on life of its own. With more than 40 million followers across its platforms, is has become a highly influential media company. Kantanka is helping shape the future of Black-owned media at a time agencies, brands, and marketers are finally understanding that the media outlets they choose matters to audiences.

Kantanka’s personal mantra is “put a ding in the universe,” and he is doing just that.

This profile was written by POCAM steering committee member Joycelyn David, owner and CEO of AV Communications.