bravo, Kojo. What a run. For those nationally who arent familiar with the legend, he is a broadcasting god in the D.C. area. I’ll explain
in D.C., the most unique part about the media market is that, obviously, there are local, national and international subsets that often flatly, do not overlap unless they have to in coverage. Kojo, naturally, blended all three. But for a reason.
Kojo was born in Guyana and went to McGill in Montreal before he arrived in D.C. So his natural existence brought at the very minimum, a level of global citizenry that for a black man on the radio in the 60s, is remarkable. From there he went on to be news director at WHUR
now, if you live in DC, you know what WHUR is. Adult R&B, gospel sundays and the news. As the radio station of Howard University, that last part was a legitimately vital part of at least in my household, our news diet. Straight up. I can still hear the Daily Drum intro in my head
and sure, as a kid, it’s boring - sort of - but I think most importantly, it was digestable. Maybe because I had two black parents who worked in the industry of helping black people across the globe, that show was basically all the hard news I got about black folks at that age
The Daily Drum is still around, but even just the name of that program, a nod to the storytelling traditions of the diaspora, is tremendous.

Kojo was the News Director at WHUR.
from there he made the leap to TV, hosting a show on what is now WHUT, Evening Exchange, a sort of general news show.

Now you gotta understand that in the 90s, being a brother hosting a news show was not exactly a big deal. It was and is still is a powerhouse market for us. But
I remember that when I’d inevitably get looped into watching it with one of my parents because he had a newsmaker on that you werent gonna see elsewhere, one thing was clear.

Nnamdi seemed, well, nice. And not like soft, just super self-important nor boisterous.
and sure, the public broadcasting domain is where that thrives, but yanno, mans was thorough and approachable.

When he took over Derek McGinty’s show (another legend in DC) at WAMU, is probably when most of you would have heard of him first. It was distributed nationally.
and the thing about Kojo was that I always appreciated the fact that he was legit a regular dude too. He’d been in the area for as long as anything anyone alive cared about and it showed.
I remember one time when DCPS and Michelle Rhee were the talk of the nation and education reform and he sort of casually said off hand, look I understand, my kids went to these schools.

And if you know DC, that was a wow. Like beyond education it was just, like, of course.
and I dont think that he would take thus unkindly, but Kojo never purported to be an expert at anything. He was just plain smarter than most people.

And as someone IN the media as a younger man, that part of his personality was vital to the rest of our credibility too.
to wrap this up, a while back, they started doing Kojo In the Community, a series of live town hall shows in the District from WAMU which was earth shattering to me at the time. I thought that was so cool

It criss-crossed the city to talk to folks in the way that only Kojo could
by the time I finally got to be ON his show, he treated me like a brotha he’d known on the block for years. I was surprised by how well he seemed to understand me and he said straight up. “Obviously, I read Lunchline.”

I was floored. I was a HARDCORE Kojo listener. That was wow
but the point is that for a black man in the capital of the united states of america to create, carve and cement a lane for black folks to talk about our issues on a national scale through the public broadcasting domain is flat out incredible, nevermind inspiring.

and the voice
he called me once to ask a q (we didnt talk like that so I didnt have his number), and he left a message. this was at a time in my life when I was still listening to voicemails and it started “hello Clinton, it’s Kojo Nnaaaaaamdi”

anyways, when it comes to news personalities in the city where I’m from, you might find more famous journalists, but you wont find a more real, admirable and flat out excellent person in this business than Kojo Nnamdi.


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More from @clintonyates

13 Jan
sorry. It’s just been a really rough week. We been doing the same thing FOREVER. Minding our business and making the world better. Why on earth does anyone else think that the reason yall love us aint the same reason yall hate us? ITS A CHOICE.
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To quote a great movie: I believe in America.

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it’s not a boycott. It’s a strike. The difference is imperative to understanding what it means to take action as a black person in America.

Column tomorrow @TheUndefeated.
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