The past few days have been a whirlwind surrounding the Chicago media and broadcast community with the recent lay-offs at the Chicago Ebony/Jet office to the Chicago Sun-Times front-page letter—announcing the sale of the publication. Times are changing and they are “speed balling’ into another era of multi-media acquisition.
Never too far from my radio and records roots—I had the pleasure of meeting up with friends, colleagues and mentors at the annual Chicago ‘posse’ radio and records reunion luncheon at Norm’s Bistro a few days ago.
For the past five years, former record label veteran, John Hall, Jr. (Arista Records) and his wife, Lynda Hall have hosted a special gathering every May, inviting long-time music promoters, radio disc jockeys, retailers and people who played a major role in the Urban Midwest music scene for the past 60 years. This year’s reunion was a great treat as word spread among insiders that receive a private invite. The mix included a group of broadcast legends and artists—Richard Steele, Gene Chandler, Bonnie DeShong, Betty Magnus, Carter Russell, Kippy Russell, Pat Edwards, Mrs. Fletcher, John Davis, Wayne Lewis, Don Lewis, Cathy Carroll, Alana Singleton, Carl Washington, Darryl Hervy, Quentin Lewis, myself and many other familiar faces. Life is too short as we lost some wonderful colleagues along the way, so catching up with the people who defined the musical landscape of our everyday lives was awesome to catch up with and break bread.
One of our own Chicago posse members in attendance was top independent music retailer, George Daniels.
Nearly three months ago, the music legend was struck with the sudden notification that his beloved Midway airport store, George’s Music Room would no longer be a part of the new build out. After an 18-month bidding process, requiring current vendors and new retailers to apply for space at the airport—George’s Music Room did not make the cut. Managed by Midway Partnership. the $75 million overhaul was approved by the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation committee for a 15-year deal to manage the retail properties and concessions which unveiled 19 new restaurants. They expect to finish complete renovations by 2020.
The airport’s only 100 percent Black-owned and operated retailer’s last day was on Tuesday and before he could completely move out—a new banner sign of Tech On The Go being putting up in its place. C’mon Midway Partnership, really?
Without missing a beat, the 70-year-old retailer was immediately welcomed by Navy Pier who announced on Monday, the soft opening of George’s Music Room on May 26. Navy Pier is one of the leading tourist and leisure destinations in the state. The new 1,000 square foot space will include a high-end DJ booth and expanded vinyl section for the ‘real’ music collectors.
“George has a longstanding history as a well-respected and influential figure in the local and national music scene, and his business has long served as a Chicago music staple, welcoming artists and music lovers from all walks of life,” said Navy Pier Chief Programming and Civic Engagement Officer Michelle T. Boone. “We are excited to partner with such an iconic establishment as George’s Music Room to bring a renewed energy and passion for the arts to Navy Pier as we continue to enhance our arts and cultural offerings.”
“I am overwhelmed with excitement and appreciation for the opportunity to bring George’s Music Room to Chicago’s lakefront treasure this summer,” added Daniels. “After 16 years at Chicago Midway International Airport, I am now so proud to team up with Navy Pier as it continues to celebrate its centennial, and look forward to being a part of the iconic landmark’s arts and cultural evolution.”
Chicago radio listeners got the news of The Tom Joyner show no longer gracing the Chicago airwaves at Crawford Broadcasting’s WSRB 106.3 in the mornings. The national syndicated show has become a regular fixture in the morning drive for the past 20 years and Joyner—affectionately remembered as the ‘fly jock’ has been on the Chicago airwaves for last the 40 years.
The station is obviously going into a new direction with radio personality, Mike Love taking over the morning slot.
Congrats & Promotions
What a wonderful segue, right? Many congratulations to the original Bad Boy radio jock, Mike Love whose been holding down the PM drive at the 106.3 for the past year. His new show, ‘Mix Mornings’ debut Monday, June 5. From 6am-9am the show will feature rush hour mini mixes by some of Chicago’s most popular DJ’s delivering the hottest R&B hits and throwback hip-hop from the 80s, 90s, and today.
In the between the mixes, I know listeners will be thoroughly entertained by Love’s crazy sense of humor and ‘fair game’ topics. Watch out morning show competitors—the stakes have been raised.
Speaking of morning show personalities, millennium stakeholder, Dometi Pongo (spelled correctly) has been making some serious moves on the Chicago news and media beat. Tribune Broadcasting has hired the rising news reporter at news/talk WGN 720 as the weekend anchor. Pongo will continue to weekday morning broadcast on Midway Broadcasting’s WVON AM 1690. Way to GO…Dometi Pongo! See how I dropped that rhyme—our hip hop lyricist/spoken word colleague would be proud.
As various On the Table programs took place around the city, music curator and DJ, Duane Powell hosted his second installment of The Rearview Mirror Sessions: Minnie Riperton this past Tuesday at The Currency Exchange to a packed-out building. The former Dr. Wax Records’ clerk is everyone’s ‘go-to’ guy for the getting an authentic inside of the Soul music scene. Powell is more than a DJ, he is the quintessential music lover who delves deep inside the culture and history of the musician’s work. Congratulations Duane for blending the worlds of rich tradition and new legacies being made. We can’t wait for the next Rearview Mirror Sessions to take place.
As we wind down the season of the Taurus, belated birthday shout-outs to super event promoter and club owner, Tony Bitoy; and Illinois State Senator, Emil Jones III on May 16. Singer/songwriter, Liz Toussaint celebrates May 17. One of the best damn estheticians in the city, Robynne Denise on May 18 along with LJ McDowell and band leader, Marcel Jean (Zzaje) on May 20. Holding down the radio reigns in Washington D.C. with Chicago family ties, on-air personality J.R. Davis celebrate his born day on May 21.
To kick off the week, I had a chance to sit down with White House Correspondent, April D. Ryan. Ryan has worked with American Urban Radio Networks for the past 20 years reaching 400 syndicated affiliates with her inside track to Washington D.C.’s political and world leaders. She was in town to discuss her new role as one of CNN’s new faces in addition to her current book, At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White. It was a pleasure to delve into some serious topics. Look out for the full interview in next week’s issue.
R&B sensation, Marsha Ambrosius—other half of neo-Soul group, Floetry was in town this week making the radio and television runs to promote her new single, “Luh Ya”. The singer/songwriter is currently on the “M.E. Tour” with Eric Benet.
Also making the visits to Chicago Urban radio stations included singer, Mario. It’s been awhile since his last album but will be releasing his first independent release, “Paradise Cove”. His most recent music video, “Let Me Help You” is a far cry from his 2004 hit, “Let Me Love You” but we look forward to hearing what the Grammy nominated artist has in store for his fans.
Former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is in Chicago making the rounds to promote her new book, Democracy: Stories from the Road to Freedom. The Birmingham native spoke with WGN’s morning anchors, Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten about the adversities that she and her family faced during her childhood in the segregated South.
This Sunday, May 21 public relations consultant, Deborah Farmer and her team hosts another edition of ‘Black Girls Brunch’ The Season of the Woman from 1pm-6pm an undisclosed location upon RSVP. In conjunction with Blu Noir Media, the afternoon of professional female bonding will include food, treats, shopping, prizes and much more. The event features a special panel discussion and a song dedication by Chicago’s own, Terisa Griffin. Hosted by NBC news anchor, Michelle Relerford and panel moderator, WVON’s Micae Brown. If you are a budding entrepreneur, consultant, corporate executive and business owner—don’t miss out on this special affair. Make sure to fill out a subscription card for The Chicago Defender along with non-stop networking, fun and partying. For more information on tickets: 773.310.7701
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