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Paint the White House Black: Black Media in the Obama Era (WP-10-08)

Micaela di Leonardo

Over the past few decades, U.S. mainstream media have focused heavily on conservative white talk radio, while ignoring minority radio outlets—and media in general—that often have much larger audiences. The most successful and most politically interesting black radio show in the United States today is the 16-year-old syndicated, drive-time, music-comedy-politics show, the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS), which has an estimated listening audience of 8 million—significantly larger than many media-hyped white talk radio shows. In this paper, di Leonardo follows TJMS’s coverage of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy, electoral triumph, and early governance. Her analysis highlights the show’s extraordinary access to Obama’s campaign, its deep immersion in organized get-out-the-vote activities, and its specifically black and working-class perspective on the news.


Micaela di Leonardo, Professor of Anthropology and Performance Studies and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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