Hip-Hop Fridays: Exclusive Q & A With Chris The Queer, Newscaster, The Star and Buc Wild Morning Program
Just when you thought there was no new frontier to explore or institutionalize on the morning program that already stood poised to revolutionize radio, you woke up, one day in the second week of November, and heard another provocative voice on The Star and Buc Wild Morning Show.
That voice - clear, strong and professional in delivering to over 5 million listeners, the latest news and current events in America and the world - belonged to a man, whose name, we were told, was Chris. Chris, we learned, was the brand new, newscaster, of "the most political, progressive and informative program on radio".
This 'Chris,' as part of an initial but informal introduction of himself to the audience, acknowledged that he was a homosexual - information that Star was not initially aware of as he and his team reviewed candidates for the open newscaster position. Soon, this gentleman, primarily referred to only by first name, in the finest traditions of The Star and Buc Wild show, took on a more complete and attention grabbing identity - that of "Chris The Queer", a self-acknowledged gay virgin.
All of the above took place, over only a few days last week, as Star, the center of the universe of the highest rated morning show in New York City (across various demographics) - and rapidly being syndicated in markets across the United States - announced and introduced this individual as winner of his hotly contested search to find someone that was not only qualified to research and deliver news; but to add value, through life experience and personality, to his self-described "Empire of Hate."
Far from being a caricature, "Chris The Queer," the 24-year old Chris Hart, is an industry professional, having recently worked in the MTV News Department and the field of communications for years. The college educated Bridgeton, New Jersey native, now residing in Montclair, New Jersey, comes to the program not only with a story of his own to tell, but literally tens of stories, each day - researched from a wide variety of sources - that he is prepared to inform the listening audience about.
To learn more about the most famous and controversial new hire in morning radio, as well as the implications of his presence on The Star and Buc Wild show, BlackElectorate.com Publisher Cedric Muhammad spoke earlier this week with Chris The Queer - about himself, his worldview and his new place of employment.
Cedric Muhammad: I just want to say congratulations on your selection, among many others, to be the newscaster of the Star and Buc Wild morning program. And I just wanted to let you to know, of course, that we at BlackElectorate.com follow the show closely and we were intrigued throughout. We didnít know who Star was going to pick and this went on for a little while. So what can you tell us of the experience and the process of your selection?
Chris The Queer: Thank You. Basically I heard Star say he was looking for somebody for the show and I have been following the program for some time now. And the opportunity presented itself when he made it known that he was looking for someone to join the team. So in response to that I sent in my resume, and met with the team maybe around four or five times. I went up there (New York City's Power 105.1) and they had me come in during the morning to get a feel of what kind of stories I was bringing to the table and how organized I was. They were looking for different aspects, of my personality and work, I guess, which was cool. And as for me, I definitely felt comfortable with the team as we interacted.
Cedric Muhammad: Now, how long did it take, from the time that you first heard about Star looking for a newscaster, to the time you were actually picked?
Chris The Queer: Although it seemed like a lifetime for me, it was kind of a quick turn around. I think from the time I sent the first e-mail to the time the decision was confirmed was probably two and a half or three weeks, total. It was kind of quick but it felt like it was forever. I was kind of in limbo and didnít know what had or hadnít happened or been decided.
Cedric Muhammad: Now you are not a newcomer at all to the profession. Were you an MTV VJ before?
Chris The Queer: No I was an MTV news producer actually, for three years. I interned for them in 2001 and they asked me to come back. And so I went back in 2003 in the Spring semester of my senior year of college, and I pretty much worked four days a week. So it was kind of like a full time internship. And probably in my second week into it, they asked me to join their team. And because I was still going to school at the time, it was especially exciting. So I worked in the MTV News department, cutting music pieces, interviewing different artists, etc... And actually one of the greatest things I ever did with the team at MTV News was going over to London and covering the Live 8 benefit concert for Africa, with Bob Geldoff. So basically my role was broad, and I dealt with studio production; the hourly updates; I made sure that the scripts were written and if cues werenít in the scripts, I made sure cues were there. I made sure the stories were factually correct and that the talent knew everything that they were reading. I briefed them on stories and whether to make changes or not. That is my role pretty much summed up.
Cedric Muhammad: Now did you have a broadcasting, communications or journalism major or interest while in school?
Chris The Queer:Yes, actually it started back in high school. I was in a TV-Journalism class in high school which was an early introduction. They really didnít teach you that much but I was an on-air anchor. Every morning I would come in, read what schools we were playing (in sports), what we were going to have for lunch, whether anybody needed to report to the principalís office, and different things like that. And I kind of got a love for it and went on to college and did the same thing, at Monmouth University in New Jersey, where I had my own radio show called the "Hip Rock" show, where I would play Hip-Hop and Rock music and do news stories over air. And my concentration in college was radio and television. It was all a great experience.
Cedric Muhammad: How long have you been riding with Star and Buc Wild, as a listener?
Chris The Queer: I was listening to the show when they were over at the Ďsloppy stationí (New York City's Hot 97) for a while but I wasnít like hard core into the show. But when I would listen to a morning show, it was Star and Buc Wild. When they went up to Connecticut (Hartford's Power 104.1), they were not in the New York market any longer so I did not have access to the show. But when they came back, it was full-steam ahead in terms of listening to the show and getting to know the program and how they worked and what they were about. So, I have been listening for a while.
Cedric Muhammad: Now, it has been bestowed upon you and you have been given the title of "Chris The Queer." How did that come about? I know that it came from Star but how did it evolve that you as "Chris The Queer," now join "White Trash Helene," "Killah Kaheem" (Buc Wild), the Six-Figure Puerto Rican, Miguel Candelaria, and "The Hater," Star?
Chris The Queer: (laughter) Yeah. What an eclectic crew? Well, actually he didnít know anything about my sexuality when I first started off but I offered up that information to the team. Actually I was a little hesitant about the name but honestly it is not very offensive at all, I donít think. I think there are a lot more other names that can be totally offensive. I had already been working with the team for three or four days and then the information was presented to them and I told them my sexual preference and then Star gave me the name. It was what it was and I was like, ĎO.K. cool.í
Cedric Muhammad: Now letís get a little bit into the discussion of late about your bona fides as, I guess, "Queer." We know "M The Lesbian," a regular, a friend to the show...
Chris The Queer:...yeah a regular contributor to the show.
Cedric Muhammad: Yeah, she, I think, was the first one to test your chin on that. But, rather than let other people define you or deal with the reactions to you, how do you describe yourself in that area? How do you identify yourself in terms of your sexual orientation?
Chris The Queer: I am a Black man who happens to like other men. Right now I know I am not in a position to represent a culture (Homosexuality) that is trying to establish itself in a hateful world. If I can help out in a certain way that would be great, but right now I donít want to put myself in the forefront without knowing everything that the gay culture is about. I want to know 100% where they want to go with things and what they want to do with it. "M The Lesbian", she has already been in the game (laughter). The Ďgay gameí if you will, for a while. She was protesting for the cause years ago. The qualm that I have with her, is what she said today (Tuesday, November 15th), that she 'is all about, specifically the minority gay culture.' And not the gay culture as a whole. And I personally think that is just the wrong attitude to have. You canít shun one by raising the other. It is just not going to work out. You canít have fighting among those within the culture, and try to elevate yourself to a certain status. It is just not going to work, if you are not on the same level. That is where I basically stand.
Cedric Muhammad: Well, you know, one of the things that I think is brilliant about Star selecting you, and the dynamic it is causing on the program already, is that there is a clear line of distinction in between what you just described in identifying yourself - a person who sees themselves as just happening to have a certain sexual orientation - and then, what many people would call the professional interest groups who politicize their orientation and aggressively apply pressure, in pursuit of their interests, respect and power. I think the term to describe them, used on the program sometimes is Ďthe gay Mafia.í So I just wanted to ask you how do you feel about those pressures placed on you by the more politicized or interest group-oriented gays who want you to wave the flag for them?
Chris The Queer: I think it is a good thing. I am trying to take the opposite view of it. I would have to educate myself a lot more to specifically know about their agenda, I guess, but it is a good thing. I am not looking at the hate as a negative vibe. If anything, you just have to learn from that and make sure you know what peopleís agendas are and what these cultures are and what they do, so you know where you stand in regards to it.
Cedric Muhammad: Now, you mentioned your problem with a separation within the gay community on the basis of skin color or minority status. Did you know that there is a Black nationalist gay group?
Chris The Queer: Yeah, I am definitely aware of that and think that is a good thing too. Again, I donít know a lot about that group but I think it is a good thing to have without a doubt. I am sure they are not shunning anyone else and that they are only focused on the uprising of the Black gay culture.
Cedric Muhammad: Yeah you probably already know the name of Cleo Manago, the founder of that group, the Black Menís Xchange (BMX), and one of the things that they are pointing out - and he actually spoke at the Millions More Movement - is that there is a belief among many Black gays that there is racism in the alternative lifestyle community and that there is an arrogant or elitist White or non-Black or non-Latino leadership of many of these politicized, special interest-oriented gay groups. And that is one of their criticisms and why they take the positions they do, as a separate group.
Chris The Queer: That is something to be aware of, without a doubt.
Cedric Muhammad:. I know this kind of pre-dates your coming onto the show, but did you have any thoughts on the whole Dancehall music-gay community controversy where the record labels and the big Dancehall artists were actually intimidated or persuaded to stop putting lyrics in their music that were considered Ďhomophobic?í
Chris The Queer: I think whenever interest groups are lobbying against the Dancehall music, I think itís a great thing. People need to be checked and music needs to be checked. Honestly, there are a lot more artists coming out now on this, like Sean Paul. MTV has a new channel called Logo. And Logo is putting on this show, "Homophobia in Hip-Hop" and Sean Paul was actually talking about trying to bring an end to the hating and bashing of homosexuals in Dance Hall music. But I think it is a good thing when people are opposing that.
Cedric Muhammad: You think Hip-Hop music has been homophobic?
Chris The Queer: Iím sorry?
Cedric Muhammad: Do you buy into that whole term Ďhomophobicí?
Chris The Queer: Yes. I think it is just more being afraid and not knowing or being open-minded. It is being close-minded about things.
Cedric Muhammad: You think a lot of the Hip-Hop music reflects that attitude that you just defined?
Chris The Queer: Yeah. A lot, yes. But I genuinely think it is on the decline. But it is still there. Still prevalent.
Cedric Muhammad: Now you have a preference for White men, preferably Blonde-hair and Blue-eyed, am I correct?
Chris The Queer: Um huh.
Cedric Muhammad: OK...(laughter)
Chris The Queer: (laughter)
Cedric Muhammad:However you want, man, if you just want to comment on that...
Chris The Queer:Again, I feel it is just a personal preference. That is really what it boils down to.
Cedric Muhammad: OK. Now your family is of the Lenape tribe?
Chris The Queer: Yeah.
Cedric Muhammad: Now I know that you are not necessarily steeped in the heritage or the culture but I just wanted to know what that heritage means to you.
Chris The Queer: Yeah, well I know I will want to be more involved with it when I get a little older. I actually do cherish that side of me. I do want to embrace that culture. I donít know much, if anything about it. My mom is into it, she goes to these meetings every year, and stays up on all of that. I do cherish it. It is not that I am not trying to claim it.
Cedric Muhammad: Yes. Now, at the time, I didnít know who you were, but when I was on the show as a guest with Star, he said to me, ĎThis new guy that we got, Cedric, he and White Trash are going to go at it. He is going to be coming for her.í I just wanted to know, what is the relationship, on-air, with 'White Trash' and everybody?
Chris The Queer: (laughter). Trash, I respect her a lot. I think she is awesome. I think she is a nice gal. I think she is a genuine real chick. She is well-traveled, well experienced and kind of brings the world to the table. She has been to a lot of places. On a personal level, I am not clashing with her at all. Actually I get along with her very well. I think she is great. On-air she is this sarcastic person, which is great. I welcome the stabs that she gives and I welcome the different opinions that she has on things, whether we have the same view on it or not. And if we donít it makes for a good conversation. I always want to hear the other side of things. I am not saying that I am trying to be convinced by her and her views, but I love to hear it. I donít know her that well, but right now we have a good relationship.
Cedric Muhammad: But just in terms of her character. Her on-air personality Ė sheís the White liberal hustler, the bleeding heart liberal who cares about the world more than the Negroes here at home, so to speak. And here you are, at times opposite her, as "Chris The Queer." But you are more than just representing the homosexual lifestyle. What are your politics so to speak?
Chris The Queer: Well, again Iím trying to define that now...
Cedric Muhammad:...well just in terms of your personality, not so much in terms of issues or elections, but just your personality.
Chris The Queer: I would sway towards more of a liberal side of things, trying to have an open mind about things, trying to be optimistic about different views, different aspects of everything. I am not molded yet.
Cedric Muhammad: Right. I see, I see. You are a work-in-progress.
Chris The Queer: Right.
Cedric Muhammad: Now, on Killah Kaheem (Buc Wild). Does Killah Kaheem represent the decline or the hope of the next generation (laughter)?
Chris The Queer: I would say the hope, definitely. The dude is 18 and he is working. He has a great job. He shows up to work every day. He is on time. And well, he is going to go back to college (laughter) in January [Kaheem just stopped taking college courses recently.] He is kind of a good example for young Black youth now.
Cedric Muhammad: Just from a professional standpoint, as much as you can, I wanted to get into something with you. I have written about the show and what I see in it. I know that Star uses a lot of polemics, a lot of dialectics. It is very sophisticated when you really look at it. And there are some other things I have shared privately with Star, about the genius of what he is doing, but I just wanted to know from you, what is your take on what makes this show so special and unique, and really sophisticated in many ways?
Chris The Queer: I wonít say I am surprised or shocked but I really admire how well informed Star is. Basically Star is running the show and everyone is running circles around him, which is cool, that is why it is the Star and Buc Wild show. It is his show. I think he brings, if not everything, he directs at least 95% of that show, where it is going to go, and how it is going to go. The subjects he goes over are controversial, to say the least, and intriguing. It makes you think about things and re-evaluate things going on, if not personally, then financially, and what is going on in your life. Maybe you want to make a move Ė a career move or whatever. There are just different subjects that he brings to the table and talks about. It is great.
Cedric Muhammad: Let me throw the criticisms that I hear all the time about the show at you. People have problems with the language used on the show. People have problems with the race-centered focus of the show. And just the nature of the personal quarreling that goes on. What is your response to that?
Chris The Queer: That goes on daily anyway, you know? Pretty much everybody spews some type of hate on something. And the way Star puts it, he is like that in real life. And I believe that White Trash is like that in real life. I believe Kaheem is like that in real life. Those microphones just happen to be in front of their mouths when they are having a conversation. I think it makes for good radio though, because there is a group of well informed people talking about things that are going on. But, as far as language goes, that is how people talk. It is just more shocking hearing it coming from a broadcasting station.
Cedric Muhammad: And whatís your "journal" all about? I heard Star make mention that one of the things that you all agreed to do is read from your journal. What is going on with the "Chris The Queer" Journal?
Chris The Queer: I have always kept a journal it is nothing really that scandalous to tell you the truth. It is kind of like things that are happening in the world at the time. I write down what I had to do that day or what I have to do tomorrow, among other things. It is something like a little 12-year old girl who keeps a diary. (laughter) Something like that.
Cedric Muhammad: Where do you want to go professionally? Where do you want to take the show and take yourself?
Chris The Queer: Well hopefully, on the show, as time goes on, maybe I can be some type of voice for whoever is out there. And maybe I will be a good representation of whoever or whatever it may be. Afterwards, I donít know? Right now I like radio, it is just a great opportunity.
Cedric Muhammad: O.K. Chris, there is something bothering me that I have to share with you. Ever since I heard you were at MTV before coming to The Star and Buc Wild Show.
I have to know, if you were in any way, shape or form, ever attracted to MTV correspondent, John Norris?
Chris The Queer: Ha,ha! No way Jose!(laughter) No way, not at all.
Cedric Muhammad: Alright, just a little stab. I was very concerned and inquiring minds wanted to know. (laughter)
Chris The Queer: No, not at all, nothing, not even a spark (laughter).
Cedric Muhammad: Well look, man, this has been great. I appreciate it. Is there anything in closing you want to say or that you want to get across?
Chris The Queer: No, I think you got it all man, definitely. I want to thank you for your time.
Cedric Muhammad: We will do our best to support you and make everybody aware of what you are doing. And I wish you the best.
Chris The Queer: Thank you very much and I just wanted to say that your website, BlackElectorate.com, is great.
Cedric Muhammad: Thank You and as a newscaster I hope that it is helpful to you.
Chris The Queer: Yeah, totally, it really is.
Cedric Muhammad: Peace.
Chris The Queer:: Alright, take care.
Friday, November 18, 2005