I’m a broadcast journalist with a particular interest in global, urban music, arts and subculture. I’m also a proud Chicagoan (Streeterville resident, Hyde Park raised). #TOWNIE is my idea of a local talk show/podcast/live event series —it’s the scaled-down inverse of #INTLPLAYER, my original music and travel documentary project. My ten-plus years of professional TV/media experience were preceded by an extensive urban arts background (I liken my transition to that of a sports journalist who’s a former athlete). I refer to myself as a “media hustler”, to honor the sensibilities and insights I’ve brought with me, especially the knack for creative self-branding and reinvention, and the tenacity to overcome barriers to participation and excellence.
I embrace the media personality category which I most clearly fit— the “cool uncle”, “true-school” hip-hop elder statesman (like an Ebro Darden, Elliott Wilson or Sway Calloway). But I also know my journalistic goals and aesthetics differentiate me from my contemporaries. My work at the intersection of journalism, culture and entertainment ranges from mainstream/commercial pop-culture, to more worldly, eclectic content (think pubcasters like the BBC, PBS or PRI). Two of my primary influences are Anthony Bourdain and Studs Terkel. Both creative hyphenates were beloved for their genius media work (and for their politics, humanity and egalitarianism), but neither were considered conventional journalists. Studs is widely regarded as a historian and Bourdain famously maintained that he was “not a journalist”.
I met Bourdain in 2013 —we discussed achieving a successful media career as a “second act”, the idea of “What is a journalist?” and “Who gets the investment and uninhibited creative freedom to tell cool stories?” I mentioned Studs and we agreed that their interviewing and storytelling styles were comparable, and that the key ingredients are curiosity, respect and integrity. I call myself a journalist (reporter-presenter-correspondent-producer-documentarian), but whatever the title, I’m really just trying to do similar, good work.
I’m an unconventional, but uniquely qualified candidate for the employment and fellowship opportunities I pursue. See my CV/resume and the following timeline of my career transition. The photo gallery doesn’t adhere to the timeline; rather it illustrates a range of interesting people and stories I often have access to, through my professional and personal networks, relationships and activities.
Present – 2018 Currently developing my independent projects, while freelancing as an Arts Reporter and Content Producer for WTTW Chicago (PBS). I also continue to support under-served youth through organizations like MENTEE Chicago.
2015 I received two awards —a DCASE Cultural Grant (used to attend and present at Realscreen West) and a Media-Arts Residency in Switzerland, through CSCI, which served as a pre-production field trip for #INTLPLAYER.
2013 I resumed freelancing for outlets and organizations like WXRT/CBS Radio, World Music Fest Chicago and others. I also joined the media/comm. and artist relations teams of the IMAN Streets Festival.
2012 I joined national pop-culture cable network, AXS TV as a full-time, Chicago-based Producer/Presenter of AXS Live, its flagship live-TV, entertainment news program.
2011 I began freelancing as a Producer/Presenter for various media outlets and lifestyle brands, creating content with like-minded artists such as Common, De La Soul and The Roots. I also released an album, Driving Songs Volume One (#DSV1).
2010 I joined JBTV as a full-time Producer/Presenter and established a strategic partnership with Red Bull Music Academy. I also began mentoring under-served Chicago youth through civic programs like After School Matters.
2009 – 08 I joined NBC-5 Chicago as an internet blogger and part-time On-Camera Presenter. I also began working as a Brand Ambassador / Culture Agent / Content Creator. And I performed at Steppenwolf Theatre and released a compilation, Urban Myth Revisited (#UMR), believing these activities were my last as a performing and recording artist.
2008 – prior I was primarily active as an independent, “true-school” hip-hop, MC/poet and beatmaker. I also performed DIY administrative duties such as label runner, tour manager, event producer and social media director. In 2005 (during my time with Second City and WORDSfest), I joined the voice-over roster of Grossman & Jack Talent and began applying my voice and audio production skills beyond music making.