By Arlene Jones
'What's in it for the black people (WIIFTBP)?" is a question/strategy that Maze Jackson, the new morning host at WVON 1690AM, is asking. I'm a hard sell when it comes to certain new initiatives. Why? The answer is simple. More often than not, I have had to determine if the person is serious about the issue or is just pulling black folks' coattails in order to become a household name and get some press.
Maze initially came on the air one day a week for an hour talking politics with then host Matt McGill. He is a political consultant, strategist and former lobbyist. His "social media question of the day," instead of being one that perpetuates the status quo, was always timely and — more often than not — thought-provoking.
Several weeks ago, the station announced that Maze would be a permanent co-host. I was glad to hear it even though the two people who would partner were like night and day. It didn't take long for the apple cart to get overturned, and Matt McGill offered his resignation. Maze took over the morning slot and it is becoming "a hell of a ride!"
Maze's youth is tempered by the addition of Charles Thomas, a former reporter for WLS Channel 7, who brings maturity and wisdom to offset Maze's brashness. Together they have formed the "Lion's Den," which is a way to let politicians and others know that the days of softball questions and schmoozing up are over. No more leading questions to slimy politicians. Rather, they are asking the tough questions, and the answers are very interesting and very surprising.
How so? Take for example the appearance by Toni Preckwrinkle, president of the County Board. When she was confronted with the WIIFTBP question, she responded by talking about the wonderful things she has implemented at Cook County Hospital. When the hosts responded back to her that they, and many of the listeners, don't go to County Hospital, the silence was palpable. When asked to name what she was doing for black people and not "people of color" or minorities, the silence was even more telling. That was not the kind of question Preckwrinkle was expecting or prepared to answer.
The other day, Maze and Uncle Charles (as he is affectionately called) had on the new owner of the Chicago Sun-Times. The investment group includes former Ald. Edwin Eisendrath. As black people love to read the Sun-Times, the question posed to the former alderman was about who his black advisors were who would help lead the direction the paper would be taking. Eisendrath gave the typical answer about it being too soon to have formed a group. But after the dynamic duo mentioned WIIFTBP and wanted to know who Eisendrath had as black friends that he spoke with on a daily basis, the man had no answer! That response was so telling; he couldn't even name one of his former black city council cohorts as someone he could contact when it comes to issues in the black community.
Maze has also begun live streaming his show on Facebook Live and on YouTube. Now instead of the host coming back live on the air and saying he wished we could have heard the interesting conversation that occurred during the commercial break, we can be part of it.
So tune in to WVON 1690AM or www.wvon.com and join Maze Jackson and Charles Thomas as they ask WIIFTBP. The answer, or lack thereof, is always interesting and it will affect your life and the lives of those around you.
Answer Book 2017
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