Ghetto living springs to life on NPR

AIRCHECK

June 04, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff writer

Make a note to catch National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" next Tuesday. "Ghetto Life 101" offers a compelling -- and at times stereotype-challenging -- portrait of life for young people in America's cities.

While the half-hour documentary was recorded in Chicago, the conditions described by its two teen reporters surely prevail in Baltimore and many other urban centers.

The program can be heard in the second half-hour of "All Things Considered"; in Baltimore, the daily 90-minute news magazine airs at 5 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. on WJHU-FM (88.1).

Producer David Isay had asked LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, two 14-year-old friends living on Chicago's South Side, to tape-record a chronicle of their life for one week in March.

Pick any urban ill -- drug-related crime, alcoholism, teen parents, poverty, school discipline -- and the two touch upon it in poignantly personal terms.

LeAlan, for example, is being raised in the joint custody of his mother and grandmother, because of an unspecified mental illness suffered by his mother.

He learns his father's name for the first time while interviewing his mother for the show, as well as her belief that the man is dead.

Lloyd's family is headed by his 19-year-old sister, struggling to rear a large group of youngsters on $500 a month in welfare.

But while the stark conditions may seem familiar from the news, listeners may be surprised to also hear the youth, fun and love that sparkles through "Ghetto Life 101."

These boys are bright -- "sometimes there's no denying we're smart," quips LeAlan to his teacher -- as well as imaginative and funny.

The first day on the loose with their NPR tape recorder, for example, they bluff their way into a hotel as reporters and end up interviewing basketball star Dale Ellis of the San Antonio Spurs.

And one day, after Lloyd wins $80 in a nightlong card game, they order multiple breakfasts at a restaurant and ride a city bus out to the end of the line in the suburbs.

"A break from the ghetto," sighs LeAlan.

*

Radio may be an aural medium, but the promotion of radio can get pretty visual. Just witness Lenna, Tracie, Temple, Donesse and Toni -- better known as the 92 Q-TEAZ. The hip-hop dance quintet has been appearing for about six months now at a variety of events around town promoting WERQ-FM (92.3).

"We play dance music, so we figured what better way to promote our sound than with dancers?" says Hal Martin, the station's promotion manager.

The Q-TEAZ, all professional dancers or dance students, will perform June 26 at the Pier Six Concert Pavilion before the station's sponsored "92Q Slam Jam Benefit," with other bookings including the Maryland State Fair, the AFRAM festival and the Charm City Fair.

*

Richard Sher, reporter, weekend anchor and host of "Square Off" on WJZ-TV (Channel 13), began this week offering radio commentaries about Baltimore on WCBM-AM (680).

"Sher-ing Baltimore" can be heard at 7:35 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

*

Click and Clack, the auto-repair gurus of National Public Radio's "Car Talk" show (real names Ray and Tom Magliozzi), are getting a new air time in Baltimore that will double their double-talk brand of humor and common sense.

Beginning tomorrow, the show can be heard at 10 a.m. Saturdays on WJHU-FM (88.1), with a repeat of the same program in its previous slot, 6 p.m. Saturdays.

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