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Report: Tom Joyner Being Forced Out of Own Radio Show; Russ Parr to Take Over

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Tom Joyner attends the 45th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California.

Tom Joyner attends the 45th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California.

*Tom Joyner, 65, is reportedly being pushed out of his own syndicated radio show to make room for younger talent.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the radio legend will be forced into early retirement next year so that Radio One – which owns a majority stake in Reach Media’s The Tom Joyner Morning Show – can move its other syndicated host Russ Parr, 56, into Joyner’s chair.

The Tom Joyner Morning Show: (L-R) J. Anthony Brown, Sybil Wilkes and Tom Joyner

The Tom Joyner Morning Show: (L-R) J. Anthony Brown, Sybil Wilkes and Tom Joyner

Also, Joyner’s forced departure is reportedly timed to coincide with the end of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2016. According to the Daily Mail, a “quiet plan” to phase Joyner out took root in 2014 “to lineup with the culmination of the Presidential election and President Obama’s departure from the White House.”

A source explained: “Tom’s show has always been about community activism, education and social justice and he played a major part in helping President Obama get elected. They felt that the end of Obama’s term would be the ideal time for him to also leave.”

Reach Media has responded to Daily Mail Online’s story, saying: “Any stories that suggest major changes to the Tom Joyner Morning Show are inaccurate. Tom Joyner is under contract with Reach Media until the end of 2017. We expect that Reach will continue to syndicate Tom’s show beyond that date and for as long as he would like to be on the air. There has always been refinements and updates to the show as well as market changes due to local conditions and there may be some in the future; but Tom Joyner and the Tom Joyner Morning show continues to be strong and is a daily Party with a Purpose. Reach is committed to Tom Joyner for the long term who remains committed to radio, his audience and the future.”

tom joyner david kantor

Tom Joyner (L) and David Kantor

Ironically, a source told Daily Mail Online that the plan to dump Joyner was masterminded by his best friend and former business associate David Kantor, “the man who actually launched Tom into syndication originally.”

Quick backstory on Kantor:

Joyner launched “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” in 1994 with ABC Radio Networks, where Kantor was an executive. It was Kantor’s idea to launch Joyner into national syndication – and the program quickly became the number one syndicated urban morning show, with more than 15 million listeners daily in over 120 markets at its peak. In 2003, Joyner launched Reach Media with Kantor, who left ABC Radio Networks to run Joyner’s Texas-based media company. In November 2004, Radio One acquired a 53% stake in Reach Media for $56.1 million in cash and stock, which gave the company ownership rights of The Tom Joyner Morning Show and Joyner’s website BlackAmericaWeb.com. In 2012, Kantor encouraged Joyner to sell more stakes in Reach Media to Radio One, a source tells the Daily Mail. In December of that year, Radio One increased its stake to 80% and that decision, according to Daily Mail, “was something that Joyner would live to regret.”

Per Daily Mail Online:

While both Tom and David made millions each time a new deal was done with Radio One; Tom had less control of the company he once owned, while David gained more power.

Each year they would make Tom lay off long-term employees and comediennes like Miss Dupree and Myra J. “It killed Tom to just get rid of the people who had been loyal to him from the beginning, but he had no say in the matter,” the source tells Daily Mail Online.

Joyner – whose current radio contract with Radio One ends in December 2016 – actually learned of his friend Kantor’s plan to end his show next year from some radio insiders who tipped him off.

Those who work in his offices in Dallas say that he’s been distraught about it ever since.

“He’s always moping around and looking like his world is coming to an end. It’s like someone turned the light off in his eyes,” the source says. “Behind the scenes he is always sad and will tell anyone who’ll listen: ‘You know they’re getting rid of me right? I should have never listened to David and sold that stake to Radio One.’”

On October 19, Radio One announced that Kantor had been named the new CEO of its radio division. Insiders speculate that it was Kantor’s exit plan for Joyner that helped secure his new top spot.

“Tom feels it’s the ultimate betrayal. It’s a slap in the face. The man he took on family vacations, the man he gifted with a Bentley, the man he trusted with everything, and the man he called friend was selling him out to advance himself. It’s heartbreaking for him,” the source reveals.

Russ Parr

Russ Parr

Radio One plans to move another syndicated host Russ Parr, 56, into Joyner’s time slots in Washington, DC and Baltimore as a replacement test starting in January. Then throughout the rest of next year, Radio One will start transitioning The Russ Parr Morning Show gradually into other major markets, ultimately by the year’s end phasing Joyner out altogether.

“Tom isn’t ready to go and hasn’t even made plans for life after radio. Radio is his passion and it’s all he knows. There’s always a chance of him going to SiriusXM like Howard Stern did, but for now he’s still trying to process his show of 22 years ending,” says the source.

Radio has also been the cause of Joyner’s strained relationship with his sons Oscar and Thomas Jr. By his own admission, Joyner was an absentee father during their early years because of his radio commute between Dallas and Chicago. He then divorced their mom Dora Chatman Joyner in 1996.

The radio business also cost Joyner his second marriage to fitness guru Donna Richardson Joyner, whom he quietly divorced in March 2012 after 12 years of marriage.

Today, Joyner’s morning show airs in 105 markets and reaches eight million listeners daily.

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48 Comments

48 Comments

  1. Renee

    December 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    This is daily wheeling and dealing in today’s corporate radio. It’s unfortunate that his loyalty was rewarded with self advancement and greed.The Chair of Radio One, nor his loyal audience of listeners will see Tom forced out of his own show.

  2. kates1221

    December 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    If this story is true, the only thing that is being done to Tom is what he did to his loyal employees when “he had no choice”. What goes around, come around.

    • 1smoothgroove

      December 1, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      He really was told to cut people. Wasn’t his call.

    • cashmoneygenerator

      December 2, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      First off Tom Joyner said this is not true,but wouldn’t he be the last to know,,he said to listen and he’ll explain on his next show..

      Wouldn’t reach media deny the story if it was true

      Cathy Hughes, the lady people champion, owns Radio One and TV One,so I’m not surprised if it turns out to be true.She is not what a lot of Black people think she is,sorta like how some of y’all thought Bill Clinton was all that!!!
      But I’m am shocked that Joyner let that so called jew play him like that,all that talk and still falling for the okey doke.They are not your friend,they are loyal to themselves and their causes!!! You have your own and you give it back to them,as Fred Sanford would say, YOU BIG DUMMY
      NYLACONNECT

    • tlisa

      December 3, 2015 at 6:23 am

      Amen to that!! Also I believe that Tom Joyner is a coon and new exactly what he was signing up for but unfortunately for him those millions of dollars that he has been receiving for being a coon, sounded better than keeping his integrity intact. Who buys their friend a damn Bently? A coon black man who is trying to play nice with the white man .There is so much value in keeping your integrity and not selling your soul. Oh Well sucks to be him.

  3. Kimberly

    December 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I will know longer listed once this is done

    • Jo Anne Johnson

      December 10, 2015 at 10:29 am

      I’m with you Iwon’t listen either.

  4. jammye

    December 1, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    folks just looking out for themselves they aren’t concerned with the customers..

    All about the money and that is terrible

  5. Joeanne

    December 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I will no longer support reach media stations

  6. Grald Lindsay

    December 1, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    If this is true then I hope and pray that Mr. Joyner takes his business to XM/Sirius radio. Those of us who live in small rural towns don’t get black people news and music so we depend on the internet to get info about the black community. Thanks Tom for being there.

  7. Renee

    December 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    We do not agree with this decision. Kantor should be very careful! What the enemy tries to steal, GOD will protect and return to Tom!

    • joe bethea

      December 12, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      God, god god which god would that be Ms. Renee ? the same white jewish god black people have been praying to for 400 plus years ? i have no simpathy for Joiner buying that white jew a bentley then let him talk him into selling majority interess in that company tje jews were instramental in the african slave trade from day one in your christian bible it say jesus walked on water ? no jusus sailed the water being the name of the first jew slave ship coming to america dont get it twisted this coon for obama did it to himself trusting the people who first brought him here into slavery in this AMERIKKK

  8. Michele Cottrell

    December 1, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I will no longer listen yo yhe station and will encoursge friends, family, co-workers snd anyand everybody I know not to listen. Bye Felicia!

  9. Somer

    December 1, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I even read that TJ bought Kantor a Bentley. With all the race baiting TJ did I can’t believe he failed to see this paid snake at his side for over 20yrs. U never sell your company. At the end of the day TJ is nothing more than a paid employee being laid off.

  10. Taurusingr

    December 2, 2015 at 12:52 am

    SMDH…Yo, Steve Harvey morning show has done a lot for our community. Now Da man trying to fire him! FAM we got Call the radio station!!!

  11. P Toney

    December 2, 2015 at 4:17 am

    Hope this isn’t true. I listen every morning and truly enjoy the show. I don’t care for Russ Parr’s show. If hes going to take his place I will just turn on some other station.

    • jean Dessalines

      December 2, 2015 at 4:39 am

      I agree 100% P Toney. Russ is not worthy and not as community active. I will tune out immediately if Tom Joyner is replaced.

  12. WIlliam Russell

    December 2, 2015 at 4:37 am

    If this is true and Tom Joyner is no longer on air. I will not be listing to Russ Par.(not that I listen to Russ anyway) He is a good talent but pales in comparison to Tom Joyner and his history on radio. So if Tom is forced out then I will launch an anti-Russ Par campaign. There is a move to eliminate substantive programming that contributes to positive Black community development.

  13. serene

    December 2, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Keep ur friends close and ur enemies closer

  14. Myron

    December 2, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Can we say Remember Michael Baisden! Former radio personality and host of The Michael Baisden Show Social activism and community leadership and 98.7 KISS FM in New York City number one in the time slot.

  15. Heels

    December 2, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Michael Baisden is no Tom Joyner.

    If they let Tom go, I too will not be listening and I will make sure Mr. Kantor and Russ Parr understand why. We just can’t shut them off, we have to let them understand why otherwise we will lose.

  16. Mama Lou

    December 2, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I have listened to the TJMS since the beginning and I am highly upset that this is being done to such an inspiring, motivating, influential individual. TALK ABOUT THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL! ! ! Now that’s what a snake will do. I will not be listening anymore if this is true. I will tell all my friends and make sure they don’t listen either. When our local station took him off and replaced him with Steve Harvey, I was determned to find him somewhere else,. I had to tune in to a station in another state for a while. Then they put an old school station on and put him on there and I was so happy. I even listened to him on my computer from another state as well for a while. I hope he does go to Sirius because I love that. BUT evenyone doesn’t have Sirius and that could be detrmental. Why can’t we leave something that is doing good alone and help stamp out all the other evil in the world. I will say that if he is pushed out, he will have all his loyal supporters if he decides to start his own station again and know not to be fooled again by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  17. Cpattersn

    December 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I love TJ morning show. That’s how I got to work on time and went through the whole day like wiz!!
    I enjoyed the weekend with right back atcha! If TJ leaves I will leave and many others will too. Huh I am retired after 35 years of teaching and still listen to TJ. That’s how I got through most of those years. Love you TJ. Still got yours and Sybil autograph and my picture with you both!

  18. Gwen

    December 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I listen to the TJS out of Charlotte, NC. I live in Greensboro. I will listen not listen to Russ. I don’t think he will have what it takes to replace Tom. Backstabbers and cheaters never win in the long run.

  19. Vanessa

    December 2, 2015 at 9:05 am

    We continue to betray our OWN for a $$$ look at the clergy with Trump. …….swindled n bamboozled,crabs in a Barrel syndrome

    • MariAnne Bolton

      February 21, 2016 at 8:59 am

      A M E N !!!

  20. Berthabutt

    December 2, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Tom just come on back to Texas and enjoy retirement. We can take our bets on Redskins and Cowboys, and you can tease me about my name.and since everyone knows your oldest son name, I can stop calling him “killer”

  21. Dr. K

    December 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    It’s a move to cut off the vast wealth of knowledge he was bringing to the Black Community. Plus to silence him before the vote. Cathy Hughes bad move and it will backfire.

  22. Shelby Totten

    December 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Hello Mr. J…

    Don’t worry God has something in mind for you. But!!!!Can you please come back to 97.1. That has become a sorry radio station. When you was there I had no problem hearing the station…now all I get is STATIC….#### Mr. J what ever you decide to do it will be a blessing. I still remember the speech you have at St. Paul’s College in 2010..my son’s graduation…GIVE OUT BEFORE YOU GIVE IN OR GIVE UP. PRAYERS AND BLESSING….

  23. April

    December 4, 2015 at 10:10 am

    This takeover is completely unfair. I will not be listening anymore when this happens.

  24. Sherry Norah

    December 6, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I will not be listening anymore. I was thinking about giving Sirius up but I will be keeping them now.
    Tom, I know you are human, but I really thought you knew how to play the game better. Never give up your rights to something you worked hard to get. When is enough money enough? Really, Tom him a Bentley?
    And what happened to you

  25. DJPTCOLD

    January 5, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    THATS WAT UNCLE TOM SELLOUT GET ESAU WILL TURN ON YOU IN THE END
    LET YOU BUILD IT UP THEN STEAL IT. JUST LIKE ROCK N ROLL BLUES R&B HIP HOP.
    WAS IT WORTH IT YOU LOST YOUR FRIENDS FAMILY NOW YOU GOT ALL THAT MONEY
    AND NOBODY CARES . AND YOUR KIDS DONT LIKE YOU AND GOD GONE SLAM THEE
    DOOR IN YO FACE YO SOLD YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL ESAU THE WHITE MAN.

  26. Mother Love

    January 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I feel for you Tom. Keep speaking up keep sharing your love with our people.
    That was a “BOUGHT LESSON” for you.
    Let’s build our own station(s) and not sell.
    I know the survivors we in radio are. We LOVE what we do and are here to be of service to our communities.
    You can always come do MY SHOW with Me!
    GOD BLESS YOU!
    I love you always,
    Mother Love
    latalkradio.com/content/themotherloveshow

  27. gayle K

    January 14, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    It’s a huge difference between Tom Joyner and Russ Parr. Tom talks with substance and Russ basically recycles the same opinion and Russ doesn’t do well with deep social topics. Russ is your typical hip hop station, trying to help the community but with no real solutions but in quickly dismiss everything as racism. I would never listen to Russ Parr or Steve Harvey.

  28. [email protected]

    January 18, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t believe this to be true. Tom is a smart business man he understood the share stakes. He is either ready to cut back or retire (he doesn’t even fly or travel as much anymore) and playing the victim to save face when the rest of his crew is kicked to the curb or the story is not true at all. How is T.J. going to fall for the Okey Doke NOPE.

  29. Robert Robinson

    February 29, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    I am located in Buffalo, NY originally from Chicago, IL I worked with the late legendary producer Mr. Carl Davis who came up with Tom Joyner. I knew something was not right because with out any notice at all wblk in Buffalo announced the coming of The Steve Harvey morning show. Tom if you ever read this I got your back 100% it might be hard but you need to start all over you got the listeners and every body love you when I heard you were gone I was crushed there will never be another Tom Joyner love Rob Robinson

  30. Trina Porter

    March 1, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    This is a problem when you trust and believe in false friends. I will not support this station, nothing against the new host. Loyal listener signing off.

  31. Richard

    March 11, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    After 1 month…Russ Parr is awful. The music selection is bad. The commentary is bad. The chatter is bad.

  32. karen C.

    May 17, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I hate the Russ Parr show and cannot get the local AM station clearly at home. I started streaming the broadcast at work and could listen to the earlier hours when the stream started again at 10. However, the streaming now stops at 10 Eastern time and does not repeat. I am so frustrated. I am addicted to hearing Tom and crew. HATE Hate Hate the staff on Russ Parr. Too much talking over each other. A Mess!!

  33. Sophy'scoco

    December 23, 2016 at 4:59 am

    When Tom leaves I leave! He should start his own radio station. Mr. Kantor should be very beware because I can guaranteed there are eyes in the background watching and waiting to do him in as well.

  34. Yvette

    January 11, 2017 at 8:35 am

    This is a sad day! I was wondering why all of a sudden we are listening to Steve Harvey Morning Show. I should have known something was wrong when J Anthony Brown suddenly left! I hate to say but it just goes to show that white ppl are not to be trusted and I can’t believe Tom Joyner let this back stabber infiltrate his radio show. I will not support this Russ (whoever he is) because supporting him is allowing this back stabbers to make money and I can’t see that!

  35. Harriet colvin

    January 12, 2017 at 5:01 am

    I am in Cincinnati Ohio I do not like Russ ‘s morning show get Tom Joyner back right now…………….

  36. Harriet

    January 12, 2017 at 5:06 am

    Get rid of Russ Parr…………………..terrible …………….

  37. RENA

    March 13, 2017 at 6:55 am

    I WILL START LISTENING TO THE STEVE HARVEY SHOW!!!!

  38. Althea Gwyn

    April 2, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Was wondering why when I tuned in to 107.7 Russ Parr would be on. His show does nothing for me. No excitement, no sense of belonging. Well, you just lost another listener.

  39. Shirley A Phelan

    December 14, 2017 at 5:41 am

    I am shock about no longer being able to list to Tom Joyner show on 104.1. I will no longer list to your station.

  40. Sheila

    December 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    I am so disappointed that will no longer be able to hear the T Joyner show as I travel in the mornings to work. The show had my listening ear for 19 years. It made me happy every morning, I would walk into my job laughing and sharing happening on the show with my coworkers.I learned years ago about the people who stab you in the back and wipe the blood up at the same time. I need Tom back, I planning to do the cruise next year also.The station has lost a listener.

  41. Carol L Davidson

    December 26, 2017 at 11:15 am

    I’m no longer a listener to that station. Tom please start your show on SiriusSXM very soon! My long commute back and forward to work is sad because I do not list to the radio anymore.

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** FEATURED STORY **

Pastor Cal Keeps Love Alive on ‘Married at First Sight’ (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)

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Pastor Cal - Calvin Roberson

eur mafs poster

*For 11 seasons, “Married at First Sight” (MAFS) has been the ultimate experiment in matchmaking as couples who have never met – complete strangers – tie the knot.

If you are not familiar with the popular Lifetime series, people looking for love are matched by relationship experts (Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Viviana Coles, and Pastor Calvin Roberson-known as Pastor Cal) and agree to tie the knot before meeting their mates.

The show follows the couples for a few weeks as they experience their first meeting at their weddings, their honeymoons, meeting each other’s families, and other milestone events all the while being counseled by the experts. At the end of each season, the couples are given the chance to continue in their marriage or get a divorce.

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eur CalvinRoberson_MAFS_S6

Pastor Calvin Roberson (Pastor Cal) is one of the experts matching couples on “Married at First Sight.” (Photo: Lifetime)

While some may question the show’s premise, the EUR spoke to Pastor Cal recently and he said the series is genuine.

“My job on the show is to get these couples, put them together, and make sure they stay together,” said Pastor Cal. “My goal is to look at their differences, see where they’re compatible, counsel them and in some cases, threaten them, to make it work. All the experts, our focus, is simply making sure the couples stay together.”

As for a method in which the couples are matched, he added, “There isn’t a solid formula we apply to every couple. It has to be tweaked as we find out people’s peculiarities. It can be nerve-wracking but it’s rewarding in the end.”

Like many MAFS seasons, there are surprising revelations and this one, featuring couples from New Orleans, is no exception.

“Season 11 has brought us so many surprises,” Pastor Cal said. “Even in casting, one of the couples we thought would get along much quicker is one of the ones lagging behind. And one couple we thought would move slower to intimacy are moving ahead. And that’s with Miles and Karen being the slower and Woody and Amani being the faster of the two.”

EUR MAFS-S11-Couples_Woodrow-Amani

Woody and Amani in current season (11) of “Married at First Sight.” (Photo: Lifetime)

He continued, “Also, by my own admission, I fall on the sword on this one, I was not expecting Bennett and Amelia to get along so well. I thought she would be put off more by his lack of profession. It was a big surprise to me.”

The next MAFS season will include Atlanta couples and after that the show heads to Houston, which is casting now. Pastor Cal told the EUR that the show adapts to the couples from each city.

“I believe that every city we film in brings a certain flavor and the participants from that city take on the flavor from that city,” Pastor Cal said. “New Orleans is laid-back, they party, and it’s a very fun city as opposed to a city like D.C. that is very political, buttoned up, and tight. But definitely we found that every city influences the participants. We definitely see different personalities coming out of each city.”

MAFS Houston Flyer

Speaking of Atlanta, Pastor Cal is the lead pastor at Progression church in the peach city. He and his wife Wendy have a marriage coaching organization that offers marriage and relationship conferences, boot camps, and seminars worldwide.

While COVID-19 may have slowed down the in-person events, that has not stopped people from contacting Pastor Cal for love connections, “Because of COVID, we’re online. I get more people through DM’s, email, etc. asking me to match them.”

And how does the church feel about the show?

“My church actually loves it.” Pastor Cal said. “They are so supportive and such an incredible group of people. They tell people about the show. Our church was actually founded on relationships, so it was an easy fit. Our church was founded on positive marriage and positive family.”

Look out for Pastor Cal’s book, “Marriage Ain’t for Punks,” slated to come out next year.

If you are interested in being on “Married at First Sight” and live in Houston, click here to apply.

For more information on MAFS’ current season, click here.

 

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Nigerian Bread Seller Lands Modeling Contract After Photobombing Rapper’s Shoot

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Olajumoke Orisaguna

*27-year-old former bread seller Olajumoke Orisaguna captured the world’s attention a few years ago when a photo of her carrying a massive bag of bread loafs ontop of her head went viral.

She was discovered on the streets of the city of Lagos by international photographer Ty Bello, who was shooting with English rapper Tinie Tempah. Unintentionally, Orisaguna came out in one of the images.

Days later, Bello shared pictures from that shoot on his social media but with interest of finding out who the bread seller was in the photo.

“WHO IS SHE? Everyone has been asking if this lady is a model… She definitely SHOULD be a model… I’ll find a way to track her down somehow. You guys can also help,“ the photographer captioned the post.

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As PEOPLE notes, from that moment on, her life changed forever. In less than a year, Orisaguna managed to sign contracts with recognized agencies. Earlier this year, she wrapped up her tour of South Africa and she also launched a vlog and reality show.

“I never expected this would ever happen to me,” she told CNN. “My friends have told me they saw me on the TV and they are really happy. My parents cannot believe their own child can become such a success.”

In March, she celebrated the one year anniversary of her discovery. In an exclusive interview with Pulse in January, Orisaguna spoke about the people who have been influential in her rise to fame. During the interview, she thanked Azuka Ogujuiba of ThisDay Newspaper, as she was instrumental in Olajumoke’s success story.

Orisaguna, who left her two children and husband to sell bread, is now being offered by a bank to pay for her kid’s education through college.

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** FEATURED STORY **

‘Origin of Everything’ on PBS Sparks Interest with Controversial & Everyday Topics (EUR Exclusive!)

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Origin of Everything

*“Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org, has been exploring topics since 2017 that run the gamut. The show jumps into a variety of subjects by investigating daily life like the words we use, pop culture, and why we are hooked on technology.

The show does not shy away from controversial topics such as slavery, race and ethnicity, and mass incarceration of African Americans.

Danielle Bainbridge, Ph.D., the host and lead writer of “Origin of Everything,” told the EUR in a recent interview that the series is about making people think beyond the restrictive ways we have been taught to view history.

“It’s a show about our collective story and how we are envisioning history,” Dr. Bainbridge said. ”How do we think about history that includes all of us and just not the figures and facts that we were taught in school. So, it’s a show about under told and underrepresented history. We’re trying to make history feel very present to the people who watch it.”

She continued, “One of the reasons to watch it is if you’re curious about how did we get to our current moment? How do small things such as why do we eat popcorn at the movies or what is the origin of ethnicity and how do these things still impact the way we think about the world?”

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EUR PBS Danielle Bainbridge

Dr. Danielle Bainbridge, host of “Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org. (Courtesy of PBS)

Deftly equipped to talk about controversial topics, Dr. Bainbridge holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English & Theatre Arts. She is also a faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies

In early 2017, when she was a graduate student, she was contacted by PBS about working on the show and thought it was a joke.

“When they first reached out to me, I thought it was a hoax,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I was thinking how would they even know who I am because I was a graduate student? But I think they found me through a since defunct janky website that I had set up. They reached out to me, I auditioned, did a screen test, and a writing sample and after that I was hired to help develop the show.”

Viewers are encouraged to be interactive with the series because it is digital. With instant commentary from the audience, the show knows immediately what viewers think, which for the most part is positive. However, when it delves into controversial subject matters things can get sticky.

“I would say overall people are pretty positive about the series because most of the folks who watch it are longtime watchers who tune in every week for episodes,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “The only exception is if we cover more sensitive topics like, race, gender, or sexuality we will get some pushback. I think that’s just the cost of doing business with open discourse.”

One of the most controversial shows was about the transatlantic slave trade.

“We did one episode on why Europeans enslaved Africans and that was probably our most viewed episode as well as our most critiqued one,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I think often times if you view yourself as pretty well versed in history from what you learn in school and then you learn something that goes in the opposite direction it can be jarring or for some people upsetting. We think of it as our value or service to our audience to present accurate history or history that doesn’t get told that often so that people can be informed with the whole picture.”

She added that she has an answer for those who point out that Africans sold slaves to Europeans.

“Slavery was not invented with West Africans and Europeans,” Dr. Bainbridge continued. “Some form of enslavement – whether through war, becoming a prisoner of war, or through different systems – goes back to ancient societies from around the world. So, it is not distinct to West Africa or Europe or any other region of the world.”

Dr. Bainbridge added, “But the difference with this particular moment in slavery was that it intersected with capitalism in a way that was very different with slavery that preceded it. People were taken into the system and their children inherited their status as a slave and that is where the differences started to emerge. We have to think about these things as distinct only because the system that existed with chattel slavery was so radically different than the slavery that existed around the world beforehand.”

With the ongoing protests against police brutality, “Origin of Everything” has also tackled the racist beginnings of United States law. Dr. Bainbridge breaks down the discriminatory history by looking at colonialism, slavery, the Jim Crow era, and mass incarceration.

“I decided to write this episode about legal discrimination, and I didn’t have a particular agenda in mind,” she said. “As I started doing the research it was overwhelming. I started to find (material) that just dealt with legal discrimination about black people in this country from its origin to now. I thought it was something that people needed to know.”

“I was never taught in any history class that I took through high school any of the information from that episode. I was taught that things are fair and that a lot of the blame was placed inadvertently or inherently on black communities, impoverished communities, or communities that struggle. When I saw that in some ways the law was stacked against black people and certain other populations, I thought that was important to bring to light. In this moment, people are looking for reliable sources and this could add to the conversation.”

New episodes of “Origin of Everything” are available on PBS.org and the PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube Channel. Join the conversation by visiting Twitter-@PBSOrigin and Instagram-@pbsoriginofeverything.

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