Grown Folks Radio: The Black Elephant in the American Public Sphere


ACLS Fellowship Program




Scholars and journalists writing about American media and the United States public sphere have nearly entirely ignored a black media giant: the 18-year-old syndicated drive-time radio show, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which reaches more than eight million listeners daily. Grown Folks Radio is a study of the show—its history, audience, aesthetics, politics and humor—and of its shifting role in African American media and the larger US public sphere. Using eight years of media ethnography research, this project explores the reasons for TJMS’s relative invisibility, investigates the mediatized black counterpublic it has been instrumental in creating, and considers the ways in which attending to this media phenomenon reframes our understandings of race, class, and age in our by no means yet “postracial” America.