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Local African-American Community Leader Turns 50

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Carl Dameron, founder and president of Dameron Communications, turned 50 years old July 7, 2009. He has been giving his time and talents to the Inland Empire for almost as long.

Dameron first came to the Inland Empire as a teenager, when his mother moved him and five siblings from East St. Louis, Illinois to the Rubidoux area of Riverside County.  He graduated from Rubidoux High School in 1977, where he worked on the school newspaper, was captain of the swim team, served in student government, and as part of the Drama Club, was involved in every play Rubidoux High School produced during those years. He also obtained certification as a licensed auto mechanic, welder and auto body painter in high school.

On Friday nights, when he wasn’t busy with school activities, he frequently accompanied his sister Kathleen, then a student at the University of Redlands, as she produced a jazz show for the university’s KUOR radio station.

He found both his high school newspaper work and the KUOR radio station especially intriguing.

“I wrote several hard hitting articles for the school newspaper that pitted me head to head with the school principal, and some different cliques of the student body. I enjoyed journalism,” he said. “Working with my sister, I was at the radio station every Friday night. She taught me to operate some of the equipment and how to write in the logs. She also exposed me to jazz. I love radio.”

Dameron graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1985. He started out double majoring in engineering and communications, two majors that have very few common course requirements.

While Dameron still values the technical expertise he obtained as an auto mechanic and an engineering major, as he studied journalism and built on the foundation that had been laid at the Rubidoux High School newspaper and University of Redlands radio station, communication became his passion.

“I thoroughly enjoyed public relations and advertising because I got to work in all communications fields and did not have to pick just one. I enjoyed communications so much that I dropped the engineering major and completed my degree with a Bachelor of Science in communications.” After graduation, Dameron searched for a public relations job, but had not established the necessary contacts to find work in his field. He now recommends college students build these contacts while working as interns, and has offered such positions to many Cal Poly Pomona students, as well as students at other Inland Empire universities and colleges.  His first job was as an assistant manager in Kmart’s automotive department, which paid well but didn’t allow him to pursue his passion for communications. After six months he quit there and took a job selling advertising in Beaumont and Banning for radio stations KOLA and KGUD. He has worked in communications since then.

“I learned fast,” he said. “My sales manager was tough, he taught me how to sell and how to close a sale. I really took the job so that I could write and produce radio commercials.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

He also worked as an assistant account manager for Wadsworth and Associates, an advertising agency in Westminster, CA, editor of the Black Voice News newspaper, marketing director for KFROG and KOOJ radio stations, vice president of communications for real estate developer Dukes-Dukes & Associates and marketing director for automotive electronics retailer AutoSound.

After he was laid off from AutoSound, he again faced another frustrating job search. This ultimately led him to form his own advertising and public relations company, Dameron Communications, in 1989.  “In interviews with local agencies we would discuss their current clients and I would make suggestions for campaigns even writing commercials and outlining campaign strategies. I was horrified to hear and see the strategy I developed implemented and they wouldn’t hire me,” he said.  “I decided that if I were good enough to steal from but not good enough to hire I would start my own agency. I now have offices in San Bernardino and Newport Beach.”

The firms former and current clients include: The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, California Home Economics Education Foundation, California Department of Education, Argosy University/ Inland Empire, Argosy University/Orange County,

Education Management Corporation, California Portland Cement Company, LaSalle Medical Associates, The African American Health Initiative, The African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County, The Inland Empire Diversity Career & Job Fair, Jose Gonzales for Supervisor, Bill Beatty for Moreno Valley City Council, County of San Bernardino, County of Riverside, City of Colton, City of San Bernardino, State of California, The Salvation Army, 909Models.com, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and Tri-County South Tobacco Free Coalition.

Dameron quickly became active in the community and as a member of the existing local Chambers of Commerce. However, as an African-American, he felt more could be done to promote ethnic businesses in the Inland Empire.

Thus, he was a founding member of the Inland Empire African-American Chamber of Commerce shortly after Dameron Communications opened for business. He’s worked with this chamber for 20 years to promote all African-American businesses in the Inland Empire, and this year does so as the organization’s president.  “My aggressive community outreach has left me in a position where I know many people in the business, non-profit, Asian, Hispanic, African-American, education, government and regulatory communities,” Dameron said. “This gives me the ability to be very successful in community relations for clients with difficult community problems including crisis management.”

Dameron faces the same challenges as many small business owners, such as balancing the needs of multiple clients, recruiting and maintaining quality employees, and maintaining a healthy profit. Still, he looks forward to staying in the public relations and advertising business for years to come.

“The rewards are great,” he said. “I feel a significant sense of accomplishment when I help a company survive a crisis situation, advance the cause of a non-profit origination or help a company sell more products.”

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