A public media professional living in Central New York. I blog about lifestyle and personal growth. Host of Life in HD, Pop Life, and The 315 podcasts (links in "Websites")
About The Making Of A Miscreant:
The Making Of A Miscreant is my deconstructed memoir. It's a collection of stories from events in my life that I believe have significantly contributed to the man that I am today.
Before the Tulsa, OK massacre of 1921 and the Rosewood, FL massacre of 1923 there was Wilmington, NC.
Unlike other racially motivated attacks on Black Americans in our nation’s history, the 1898 attack on the Black community in Wilmington, NC was a carefully plotted political coup designed to regain power and put a thriving Black community in its “proper” place.
1890’s Wilmington was a shinning example of Reconstruction where a mixed-race community shared wealth and power. Successful Black-owned businesses thrived and Black North Carolinians held important elected and professional positions like alderman, police officers, magistrates, bankers, newspaper publishers, and more. It was a thriving Black middle class that threatened the way of life and power structure of white supremacists Democrats. So, in 1898, they plotted to take back the state legislature “by the ballot or bullet or both”. More than 2,000 heavily armed white men swarmed the streets of Wilmington intent on torching, terrorizing, and murdering Wilmington’s Black community. At least 60 Black men were shot down in the streets and businesses burned while survivors fled for their lives.
In this episode of Life in HD, I speak with Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Zucchino, about his book Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy. He describes a thriving Black middle class in Wilmington, the coordinated plot by white supremacists Democrats to seize power, and contemporary Wilmington’s inability to heal and reconcile this horrific period in the city’s history.
On Monday, August 16, 2021, I announced my retirement from Syracuse University just 2 months shy of my 29th anniversary at WAER FM, the NPR member station serving Central New York. I will soon embrace a new role as a part of the leadership team at the WNET Group where I will serve as Vice President & General Manager of NJ PBS, the award-winning public television service bringing quality arts, education, and public affairs programming to all 21 counties in New Jersey. I look forward to joining this incredible organization and I’m anxious to meet my new team.
This change would not be remotely possible without the support of my terrific wife and life partner, Angela, or my equally supportive daughters Imani and Hadiya. Their support and encouragement mean the world to me.
When you spend nearly 29 years at one place the goodbyes are really tough and you spend a good deal of time contemplating legacy. My team at WAER is a hardworking, talented bunch who bought into the vision and the mission that fueled much of our work. I am proud that we made objectivity, independence, diversity and justice, and storytelling pillars of our community service work. I could always rely on my leadership team Kevin, Mary Kate, Chris, and Jen; and former leadership team members Ron and Mary to deliver in the name of good journalism, quality entertainment and community service. Equally reliable was my office manager Cora’s uncanny ability to keep my ego in check. Having a conversation about my decision was quite emotional. I look forward to watching them move the station forward with new leadership in place.
WAER is one of the great incubators of young broadcast talent in the country. That’s a claim that I can make without equivocation. And after nearly 29 years and a thousand or more students walking through the doors at 88.3 FM, many of those talented Newhouse School and VPA students have become life-long friends and, in some cases, mentors to me. It’s the whole student-becomes-the master, kung fu thing that I have never been too proud to embrace.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been the kind of life disruptor that grabs your shoulders and shakes you from a daydream state. The kind of event that leads you to ask big questions about what matters and forces you to contemplate your purpose in life. Concurrently, the equity and social justice movement and high profile career moves by the likes of Nikole Hannah-Jones and Maria Taylor, underscored by the mantra “go where you’re appreciated”, compelled many to ponder themes of belonging, acceptance, and authenticity. This is partly why we are seeing so much movement in the post-pandemic job market. When the future is uncertain, as it was for many of us living under lockdown protocols, it makes sense to pursue options rather than sticking to a single-minded path. It has a way of forcing you to imagine multiple possible selves and futures. According to Forbes, there has been a shift in workforce values and priorities. Corporate culture is more highly valued, benefits are critical, career advancement is key, and work-life balance is a priority. And in that regard, I was not immune to the rolling tide of change.
Images and portrayals of men as strong protectors and warriors have been handed down through stories and art since the dawn of man. Our masculinity is defined by physical appearance, bullish attitudes, and conquests of all types. But how is that benefitting us as men in contemporary society? Are there other traits that we should be celebrating as masculine? Perhaps intellect and sensitivity? Our ability to father and love?
What if we undefined the traditional roles and traits of masculinity and realize our potential without any constraints? This is what actor Justin Baldoni asked himself after realizing he was not happy with the man he was evolving into. He is known for his starring role on the CW’s Jane The Virgin and as director of the 2019 box office hit “Five Feet Apart”. He joined me on today’s show to discuss his new book “Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity” and how the effects of traditionally define masculinity prevented him from being the kind of man he wanted to be for himself and his family. He speaks openly about strength and vulnerability, relationships, racial justice, and how he hopes to redefine masculinity in his work as an actor and director.
Abandonment takes many shapes and forms and the legacy of closed adoptions can trigger harmful ripples that can last for generations. We wrap up our series on DNA testing and how the rise in these tesiting services opens up a world of discovery with a truly compelling story. Cayla’s story. It is a memoir of family secrets, heartache, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
Cayla grew up without her biological father in her life. Never accepting the reasons why, she embarked on a journey to learn of his identity and get answers to the burning question…”why did you abandon me?” After a multi-year search, she found some of the answers she was looking for. But was the truth enough to make her feel whole? Listen to this incredible story to find out.
When it comes to searching your family tree, there are inevitable roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the kind of progress that you hoped to make. For descendants of slaves, the barriers can be quite difficult to overcome. The same is true for the descendants of some immigrants who worked to forget the past by getting fresh start in America.
The task can be as equally daunting when you are adopted or the child of a parent who was adopted. Without critical information like surnames, birthdates and places, you lose an entire section of family tree and an opportunity to complete yourself. That was certainly the case for today’s storyteller, Rachel. A young woman curious about a section of family that she knew absolutely nothing about. So many question rolling around her mind, so many answers waiting to be discovered. For Rachel, this missing bit of information stood in the way of feeling whole. As you’ll discover after listening to the show, this is ultimately a story of belonging.
People who have a strong sense of belonging tend to be more secure and comfortable with their identity. It’s a basic human need that provides a sense of wholeness and community that can improve motivation, health, and happiness. Enjoy Rachel’s story.
Forget what you think you know about your family’s history. Once you start down the DNA testing rabbit hole, there is no telling what you might discover. There’s something intriguing and mysterious about sleuthing through your family history.
Some search for peace that comes from knowing their origins, or the thrill of discovering that they are related to some famous historic figure. But for some, a little surprise information can challenge long-held beliefs about their family and create thought-provoking context for their existing relationships. That is certainly what happened to our next guest, Charles (Chuck). Chuck’s simple journey to confirm and learn more about his Irish heritage produce a few extra surprises.
These enlightening moments often have a way of challenging our perspective on family and our relationships to one another. And, in Chuck’s case, we gain a different understanding of our family’s participation in the American experiment.
My personal journey to discover more about my maternal grandfather’s lineage led to other unanticipated discoveries. Like a deeper dive into my ethnicity and developing a broader sense of my identity and worldview. It also afforded me an opportunity to meet family members I didn’t know I had. Like my wonderful cousin Jennifer Jones and her beautiful daughter Victoria. We arranged to meet up, share a meal, and get connected in a familial way.
Thorough Jennifer and Ancestry.com I met my cousin Kalia Loper. Jennifer and Kalia’s grandmother Carol and my grandmother Norma are sisters from the Brodis side of our family. Through them, I learned more about my grandaunt who I knew very little about.
I also learned that Kalia was on her own personal journey of self-discovery. What started out as an opportunity to assist in the research of Crohn’s disease through DNA testing with 23 And Me turned into an amazing spiritual journey to connect with her ancestors and eventual physical journey across the Atlantic ocean. Please take a listen. I know you will enjoy it.
The DNA test kit market was valued at $747 million in 2018 and is expected to grow 23% by 2027. Much of it is driven by services offered by companies like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me to meet the demand of a growing number of people interested in their ancestral family tree and DNA testing for health and fitness. Along the way, people are making discoveries about themselves and their ancestors that challenge and influence their identities and how they see themselves in the world.
This 4 part series of Life in HD examines the personal journeys and discoveries of people who have taken DNA test. These stories of self-discovery are in the storyteller’s own words and I sincerely appreciate their choice to share with us all. Everyone’s story is as unique as the force that drives them into the arms of history.
The first story of the 5 part series is Joe and The 44. It is my own journey to discover more about my ancestors, my heritage, and struggles with identity.
As we enter 2021 and reflect on the year that passed, a new book reminds us to pause and reflect on the importance of life. We experienced quite a bit of loss in 2020. Loss of employment, loss of freedoms, loss of security, and the loss of friends and loved ones.
This episode is about focusing on what truly matters in life especially during uncertain times. In his book The Beauty of What Remains, Rabbi Steve Leder shares his own experience of love, regret, and pain in a more personal and intimate way than ever before. After experiencing the loss of his father he discovered how much of a life changing event it truly was. “In death we do not lose – we actually gain more than we ever imagined.”
Steve uses personal reflections and heart-warming stories to bring the reader into a conversation about what is important and urges us to live more meaningful, more beautiful lives that are less anxious and less frenetic.
The Beauty of What Remains is a heartfelt narrative filled with laughter and tears, wisdom, and ultimately, an acknowledgement of the profound truth that if we can understand death and loss, we can learn how to truly live. I hope you get something out of this conversation.
On what would have been your 57th birthday, I won’t paint a fantastical picture of our relationship as brothers. Lionizing you will do me no good on the day that I miss you most. Ours was as typical a brotherly relationship as any other. You had your friends and interests and I ran with my circles and did my own thing. But when taken out of those zones of comfort, we had each other.
We fought like brothers who were close in age. There was that time that you warned me, with specific detail, that you would knock the wind out of me. And you did. You watched me, mouth agape and struggling for air, until the inevitable wail escaped the walls of our Wakefield apartment to the street below. You ran for you knew the rage that would follow. You stayed away from the apartment the entire day, undoubtedly waiting for the calm after the storm. Later that afternoon, you returned home to find the storm still swirling. You gave me an entire day to plot my revenge and think about how I would do you harm. I played several scenarios out in my head but, in the end, I was an opportunist. I used whatever was at my disposal. I grabbed scissors and stabbed you in the leg.
It was an act of pure rage followed by immediate regret. For while you were my enemy that day, you were my brother for life. And a silly fight over who controlled the television might have had irreversible consequences. But my rage then, as it is today, is unpredictable and, at times, uncontrollable. Know that I continue to work on it.
I don’t know what makes brother raise fist against brother. It’s a documented part of human nature. What I do know though is that you would acquiesce to no other laying a hand on me. You were protective in a way that created a bubble around me. I was never bullied as a child because my older brother had the will and ability to defend me. And you remained protective of me and my soul until your passing. When you left me here alone to fend for myself. My hope, my belief is that you continue to watch over me. That you protect and guide me in some mystical way. That on some subconscious level, the decisions I make in life have your hand on the rudder. That is certainly the hope. Are you there? Watching over me, brother?
I will raise a glass to you on this day and continue to miss you until the end of days.