By Fern Gillespie
Mayor Eric Adams has officially become a WBLS radio personality. Over the decades, he’s been a regular talk show guest on WBLS during his careers as an NYPD captain, NY Assembly Member, and Brooklyn Borough President. Now, his monthly talk show, “Hear from the Mayor,” will be spotlighted on WBLS during the Imhotep Gary Byrd’s Express Yourself Show (IGBE) on the second Sunday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. “Hear from the Mayor” will feature news of the day, special guests, and call-ins live from City Hall.
“Every day, we are ‘Getting Stuff Done’ for working-class New Yorkers, but so many working-class New Yorkers are also doing so many wonderful things to move our city forward; this program will highlight all that and more as we hear directly from New Yorkers,” Mayor Adams stated in the official press release. “Tune in or give me a call and hear directly from your mayor on what we are doing to build a better New York City.”
For “Hear from the Mayor,” on air during Imhotep Gary Byrd’s weekly show, Byrd serves as a moderator. “Eric Adams has appeared on my shows from WLIB to WBAI to WBLS,” Byrd told Our Time Press. “However, I think the distinction in this case is that the mayor is now hosting his own show on the Black Heritage station of New York City. In our case, I do have a relationship with the mayor that stretches back across those stations.”
Byrd’s radio career in New York State spans over 58 years from Buffalo to New York City. A former legendary DJ and on New York City’s WWRL in the 1960s and 70s, Byrd, a poet and Motown Records artist-songwriter, co-wrote the classic songs with Stevie Wonder, “Black Man” and “Village Ghettoland” for Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. Since 1982, he’s been hosting radio talk shows on WBLS and WLIB. He also has a Friday and Sunday talk show on WBAI. Al Sharpton, whose WBLS Sunday show precedes him, calls Byrd “The Godfather of Black Talk Radio.”
“I think it’s important that Mayor Adams is setting up his independent platforms to be able to reach the audience directly. I think people are pleased that they get a chance to talk to him. The name of the show is “Hear from the Mayor,” but the mayor’s emphasis is that he wants to hear from the people as well,” Byrd explained. “One of the callers that we had had some very intense personal problems that she was dealing with and was not able to reach someone in city government. The mayor answered her on the air and told her exactly what to do. He took her name and subsequently said he would make sure that her problem was addressed.”
WBLS is rooted in Black history and politics. Founders included Hal Jackson, Judge Oliver Sutton, Betty Shabazz (widow of Malcolm X), and Chairman Percy Sutton–former Manhattan Borough President, Malcolm X attorney and Tuskegee Airman.
“Radio has always been a two-way medium, and with listeners accustomed to providing their opinions across a myriad of issues, having Mayor Adams on WBLS is the perfect way to allow the community to engage with him directly,” said Rahsan-Rahsan Lindsay, chief executive officer, MediaCo, who heads WBLS and Hot 97, stated in the press release.
“It’s been a team effort coordinating Mayor Adams’ new show. Thanks to Cynthia Smith, WBLS program director; Rahsan-Rahsan Lindsay, our engineer Rick Wright, and the mayor’s coordinating team for making it happen,” said Byrd.
“Politics continues to be a part of the WBLS legacy programming as was the vision of Chairman Percy Sutton. Mayor David Dinkins had a talk show. Al Sharpton started his talk show career here,” explained Byrd. “Percy Sutton was about New York City politics. I think he would been happy to see Eric Adams, the 141st Mayor of New York City and New York City’s second Black mayor, on the air. That’s how he wanted the stations to be used.”