In the 1950’s, the “Whites Only” lunch counter was the iconic symbol of segregation. Today, the segregated lunch counter isn’t in a diner in the Deep South, it rides the airwaves on talk radio. In Philadelphia, like most major urban centers, the talk radio market is segmented by race. On the largest talk radio station in the Philadelphia market, WPHT, there is no African American host. There is no white host on the only talk radio station with a primarily African American audience, WURD 900-AM.
The barriers of race at the lunch counter that is talk radio will break down this week by placing two Philadelphia personalities – one African American; one White – behind the microphones on a pioneer project entitled “The Bumi and Shmu Show.”
Oshun “Bumi” Fernandez, CEO of Odunde, Inc. – the longest running and largest African American street festival on the East Coast – will team up with Ken “The Shmu” Smukler, a political consultant who has advised the political powers in Philadelphia from Frank Rizzo to W. Wilson Goode to Bob Brady. Together Bumi and The Shmu will host a weekly one-hour radio show that will break through the headlines, break up its audience, and break down the wall of race that separates the world of talk radio.
“This is a show where you have two different distinct personalities from two distinct backgrounds—he’s from Villinova; I’m from South Philadelphia.,” explained Fernandez. “We just thought it would be a wonderful idea, because most talk shows are either white only or African American only. There’s either WURD, or Rush Limbaugh—there’s no practical medium for these two distinct cultures to come together.”
According to Smukler, the impending radio duo met about three years ago and eventually discussed how they could change the face of talk radio with a “point-counter point” style show on contemporary news, events and social trends. “It’s kind of both a news maker and political show, but also an arts, culture, health and food and a much broader show. The evolution is kind away from just one white guy doing politics on WURD to Bumi and I doing a much broader ranging show. It’s really a pilot, just to see how the concept works and if it’s compelling enough and the station believes there is a place for this kind of voice and if there is some long-term staying power for the show.”
Smukler, who serves as a political commentator on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, has advised the new talk show host to not hold back and just be herself. “I have a feeling that Bumi and I see more eye-to-eye on most things than not, but you never can tell with Bumi,” he noted. “She’s a total loose canon.”
“The Bumi and Shmu Show” debuts on October 24 and can be heard Monday-Friday, 9 pm-10 pm on WURD 900-AM.