Clout: Pair teams up to break racial barriers on talk radio

Posted: October 21, 2011

KEN SMUKLER, a communications consultant who works for U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and other local pols, is taking on what he calls racial segregation in talk radio.

Smukler, who is white, is teaming with Oshun Bumi Fernandez, an African-American woman, to co-host a radio program airing weekdays from 9 to 10 p.m. on WURD (900-AM), starting Monday.

Fernandez runs the annual Odunde Festival on South Street.

They're calling the show: "Bumi and the Schmu."

We did not make that up.

Here's Smukler's pitch:

"In the 1950s, 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."

Philly Clout readers know that we are strict adherents to the politics-as-pugilism policy: Always punch up, taking on a foe larger and more powerful than yourself.

So, Smukler, in heavily promoting himself as a rare white voice on WURD, which has a predominantly African-American audience, notes that there are few black voices on the big-time talk- radio station, WPHT (1210-AM).

Smukler tells us that WURD is giving the show a week to see how it performs as part of a new "After Dark" evening lineup. He sees the show as a calculated risk.

"I said if the content is compelling, then it doesn't matter what your skin color is," he said.

Smukler is already a regular guest on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner show, during which he opines about politics.

The WURD show, Smukler and Fernandez told us, will be a mix of politics, sports, entertainment, arts and culture.

That raises a question: How will Smukler deal on the air with Brady, who is seeking re-election next year?

Brady is being challenged in the spring primary by former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore, an African-American. The Census Bureau last year found that 48 percent of the residents of Brady's district, which snakes from the city's northern border all the way south to Chester, are African-American, while 32 percent are white.

"Given the audience, I'll have to be scrupulously down the middle when it comes to that race," Smukler said. "I assume there would be a lot of attention paid if I tried to go one way or another on that race."

Speaking of Moore . . .

His campaign for Congress appears to be off to a shaky start.

Campaign-finance reports filed Saturday show that Moore has $3,365 in the bank and raised $19,790 in the past three months. His campaign is $78,674 in debt. That includes $39,300 that Moore has loaned his own campaign.

Brady reported $688,420 in the bank after raising $45,450 in the past three months.

We spent the past two weeks trying to reach Moore to talk about his campaign. A communications consultant finally called, wondering why we wanted to speak with Moore since we interviewed him three months ago.

She promised to pass along a message to Moore, but we never heard from the candidate.

Moore's official campaign kickoff was postponed on Sept. 8 because of rain. We're told he's planning to hold the event next month.

The April 26 Democratic primary election is six months away.

Quotable:

"I'm not the typical Republican. And even the Republican Party sees that. I'm like the Switzerland."

- Karen Brown, a longtime Democratic committeewoman recruited by the Republican City Committee this year to run for mayor, speaking on NBC 10.

- Staff writer Jan Ransom

contributed to this report.


Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or email

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com and follow on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN.

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