Every weekday, the wildly popular Tom Joyner Morning Show reaches more than eight million radio listeners. The show offers broadly progressivepolitical talk, adult-oriented soul music, humor, advice, and celebrity gossip for largely older, largely working-class black audience. But it’s not just an old-school show: it’s an activist political forum and a key site reflecting on popular aesthetics. It focuses on issues affecting African Americans today, from the denigration of hard-working single mothers, to employment discrimination and sexual abuse, to the racism and violence endemic to the U.S. criminal justice system, to international tragedies.
In Black Radio/Black Resistance, author Micaela di Leonardo dives deep into theTom Joyner Morning Show’s 25 year history inside larger U.S. broadcast history. From its rise in the Clinton era and its responses to key events--9/11, Hurricane Katrina, President Obama’s elections and presidency, police murders of unarmed black Americans and the rise of Black Lives Matter, and Donald Trump’s ascendancy-it has broadcast the varied, defiant, and darkly comic voices of its anchors, guests, and audience members. di Leonardo also investigates the new synergistic set of cross-medium ties and political connections that have affected print, broadcast, and online reporting and commentary in antiracist directions. This new multiracial progressive public sphere has extraordinary potential for shaping America’s future. Thus Black Radio/Black Resistance does far more than simply shed light on a major counterpublic institution unjustly ignored for reasons of color, class, generation, and medium. It demonstrates an alternative understanding of the shifting black public sphere in the digital age. Like the show itself, Black Radio/Black Resistance is politically progressive, music-drenched, and blisteringly funny.