The majority of us have a morning routine, whether we know it or not. Some wake up to an alarm clock with a sound so jarring you’d think a foreign power had invaded our land. Some have an internal clock, not ever sleeping past a certain hour, while others may be regularly awakened by a roommate, significant other or none of my business. Then, there are those who wake up to the radio.
Me? I often cannot listen to talk radio in the morning. That just happens to be the time of day when I’m most attentive so an additional voice to accompany the many voices in my head is one too many. My partner is the type who needs her NPR in the morning with a pot of coffee on the side. I hate it. While NPR has gone through leaps and bounds when it comes to diversity and inclusion, I still feel that its sole purpose is to explain a complicated and colorful world to white people.
I’d posit that Black Americans don’t have enough options for morning content on either broadcast TV or talk radio. In terms of well-known FM radio options, there’s the nationally syndicated “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” which is recorded out of Los Angeles, and “The Russ Parr Morning Show,” which is also nationally syndicated but recorded in the Washington region. If these are our top-tier options for the morning routine, that’s quite depressing. This may be adequate to religious Black folks who want to engage in lightly substantive topics, but for my circle – or even my parents – that just isn’t fulfilling. Perhaps there are more fulfilling options in the podcast universe, but none currently at my fingertips for when I rise in the morning.
With abundance comes diversity in entertainment. Parr used to host a morning show on 93.9 WKYS when I was in high school, and when I graduated in 2002, I also graduated from his level of entertainment. There’s a market for NPR or public radio-style format, but specifically for topics that resonate with people of color more deeply. There’s also a dearth of straight-up entertaining shit early in the morning. It’s typically hard news and often stale – certainly no one I want to listen to at 8 a.m. The continued growth of comedy podcasts makes sense. But even these are typically recorded in the afternoon or evening, and the listener may just decide to listen to episodes when they first wake up. What happened to fun, live, topical entertainment in the morning?
“Instead of a discussion, I would call it a brainstorm,” he says of his segments.
“In all other facets of my life, I’m very intentional. When it came to ‘Wake N Bake with BeMo,’ I decided to not be intentional. [I have] whatever conversation just pops into my mind.”
Smoke billows out of his mouth as he begins each show from the blunt he just lit, hence the name. Usually seated next to him on the couch in their smoke-filled Hyattsville home is his girlfriend Emani Jester, who he refers to on the show as the “Lady of the House.” She’s never featured on camera during the shows but collaborates with Brown behind the scenes.
“I’m a producer, in a sense,” Jester says. “I’m a supporting character. [It’s] pretty much his show. I’m there to bounce ideas off of.”
She describes the show’s beginnings as “a collective idea.”
“It was pretty much built off of the fact that we have intellectual conversations every morning when we smoke a blunt. It grew from him missing the sense of community he gets from engaging.”
No one can ever come at Brown for lacking in range of topics. One moment, he will raise a question such as, “If pleasure is power, do you think great sex was happening in the Roaring Twenties?” He will then question why the mortality rate for black mothers is so low, and then switch gears completely to lead a passionate, open discussion about the incident between “Savage” star Megan Thee Stallion and Torey Lanez and the backlash Megan Thee Stallion received.
“Black women say they feel unprotected,” Brown says about the Megan Thee Stallion incident. “How do we do better?”
“[Viewers said] they appreciated even having the discussion,” he says of bringing up Young’s article on his show.
The format for Brown’s show is inclusive to the point that his thoughts are quite often halted by a question or thought placed in the comment box, and this is why I fervently believe that he may be on to something. In the ocean of morning media, there isn’t a preponderance of dialogues such as these. It’s rare to see this dialogue aired on popular media channels with enough sponsorship to provide sufficient income for Brown and his executive producer, Lady of the House. And that’s not because of lack of quality – I imagine if you’d ask his audience, they’d find it indispensable to have an opportunity to unpack such issues.
While there’s room for his depth in research to grow, his show is still new. With more organized research and more fine-tuned themes will hopefully come a larger audience, thus deepening the dialogue. But even in its current format, I have this strong feeling that years from now, I will continue to believe Brown’s show was built out of the urgency of a moment. He’s a talented, creative warrior for his people and his city who had the burning desire to smoke a blunt with his partner and discuss the topics closest to the heart.
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