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One Hour

I was invited to be a guest this past Sunday on WBLS Radio’s “Open Line”, one of the most popular and relevant talk shows in the country.  They’ve been setting a standard for years for the type of conversations needed in our community.  I am so grateful to Bob Pickett, Bob Slade, and Brother Mtume for having me on but also for leading the way.  They show us how important it is for us to have as many outlets as possible for our voices to be heard.

And, in the spirit of shows like “Open Line,” we launched “Don’t Sleep.”  Your support for “Don’t Sleep” since we launched October 1st has been incredible.  The show is meant to spark conversation and action in our community, and it has done just that.

We’ve received so many comment and so much feedback about our show.  Without question, the #1 comment has been that “Don’t Sleep” is too short!  Viewer felt we needed more time to not only discuss issues but find solutions.  I suppose we’ve been doing something right if people have overwhelmingly and consistently been saying that the show should be extended from a half hour to an hour.  So, starting this week, “Don’t Sleep” will do just that.  We will now have an hour-long format to educate, empower, and engage.  This will allow us more time to delve deeper into topics and determine how we can all, in our own way, be agents of change.

As part of being extended to an hour, the show will move to Wednesday nights at 11 p.m.  This will allow us to do on-location reporting from cities and communities across the country.

Thank you so much for your continued support and positive feedback.  We hope we can continue to count on it as we continue to grow “Don’t Sleep” and our audience and make the show appointment viewing and must-see TV!

As always, you can go to bed now but don’t sleep … we’ll see you on Wednesday night.

T. J.

Getting back to work

Because of Hurricane Sandy, “Don’t Sleep” did not tape on Monday and Tuesday.  Like so many others in the NY area, members of our staff and crew were unable to get out and about the past few days.  For the most part, our “Don’t Sleep” family made it through the storm largely unscathed.  Given the loss of life and property because of the storm, we are truly blessed.

Thanks to those of you who checked on me the past several days.  I assure you I was fine, except for the dangling crane right outside my window that continues to taunt me and the entire neighborhood.

We are back in our office today and preparing to get a new episode of “Don’t Sleep” on the air for you today.  I’m excited to welcome RZA, Fat Joe, and Katrina Peirson to the show today.  I’ll see you soon!

T. J.

Last night’s show

In a word: damn.

I was so excited about last night’s episode of “Don’t Sleep.”  We were able to speak about the progress black women are making.  And, it was the first show that featured mostly women.  We had Issa Rae doing her commentary.  And, on the panel discussion, we had Vivica A. Fox and the “Conservative Black Chick” Crystal Wright.

I relished the opportunity to showcase two smart, accomplished, beautiful, strong black women on the panel.  But, damn.  The conversation immediately spiraled into a war of words and theatrics.  A passionate discussion on issues between two strong black women is one thing, and it’s something I welcome on “Don’t Sleep”, but last night’s back-and-forth became personal and vitriolic.  Damn.

I never want “Don’t Sleep” to be a platform to perpetuate the negative stereotypes about black people, especially black women.  We must do better.  Yes, things happen.  Yes, people get passionate, and there’s an unpredictable nature to doing a panel discussion on a TV show.  I know Vivica and Crystal are talented, smart black women. They had an opportunity to show the best of what black women have to offer but instead showed what many expect them to be.


T. J.

Help wanted! (Thursday update)

Clearly, I need to hire somebody to write for me on this website.  I have been woefully neglecting it.

Spent some time this morning hanging with Sway at his studio.  We had a good chat on his Shade 45 radio show.  And, I was nearly accosted by his female sidekick.  But, it’s all good.

At the office today, I listened to a recording purportedly of a stop-and-frisk incident involving an inner city teenager in New York.  I got chills listening to it.  We will be breaking down what we hear in that audio recording and taking a look at the stop-and-frisk policy tonight.

And, y’all know Malik Yoba, right?  Every heard of a guy named Anthony Hamilton?  And, you read Charles Blow at the NY Times, don’t you?  All three of these accomplished brothers will be on tonight’s episode of “Don’t Sleep.”

T. J.

Thank you

I’m suffering from sleep deprivation.  I’ve eaten Mariella’s pizza for dinner almost every night.  I lost (then found) my cell phone.  There was a mousetrap in my dressing room.  I found out there’s someone on staff who will actually steam my pocket squares.  There may already be a love connection between two people who work for the show.  And, I discovered meditation through makeup.  It’s been an interesting first week!

But, we made it.  We’ve learned a lot along the way.  Thanks to all of you who tuned in and commented.  I promise I have been reading your feedback.  I hope we can continue to count on it as we work to always improve.

I am so grateful to Hill Harper, Sherri Shepherd, Brandon T. Jackson, Issa Rae, Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Steele, Loni Love, Queen Latifah, Michael Eric Dyson, Jesse Lee Petersen, Sherrod Small, Marc Morial, Ava Duvernay, & Ron Christie for being a part of my first week.

And, though you don’t get to see them, the “Don’t Sleep” staff deserves so much praise for the work they’ve put in and their belief in the show.

Again, thank you so much.

Much love,

T. J.

Wednesday fireworks

We want Don’t Sleep to be a place where people with differing opinions can come and be heard.  And, on tonight’s show, we offered our platform to someone who, in my opinion, took it a step too far.  He even got an adverse reaction out of me.  But, the topic we were discussing was relevant to our community.

Also, I have a one-on-one with Queen Latifah.  Love this woman.  She has a message for young women that I want you to hear.

See yáll soon. Don’t Sleep.

T. J.

Tonight’s Show (Tuesday)

Good Tuesday evening!

Each night, Don’t Sleep will raise awareness surrounding issues impacting our community.  On tonight’s show we will be introducing someone who will  share commentary in their voice on a relevant issue facing our youth.  This will allow us to give a platform to the various voices within our diverse culture. 

Tonight, we welcome Issa Rae who is known and widely followed for her witty, edgy perspective. Issa Rae is the star of “The Misadventures of Akward Black Girl,” a wildly popular web series.  You may know her for often using the word “ratchet” when describing her life’s soundtrack. She brings that “ratchet” perspective to tonight’s social commentary surrounding a story in Florida where members of a high school band appeared in an explicit rap video.  In it, they can  be seen wearing their band uniforms while dancing.  The video also includes at least one porn star and several “strippers.”  The school says they were misled about the video when the students were first asked to participate.

Also in tonight’s show:  I promise you won’t want to miss Rev. Al Sharpton, former RNC Chair Michael Steele, and comedian Loni Love.  They go at it about gay marriage, black Republicans, and the court decision over the new voter ID law in Pennsylvania. 

See you soon.  Don’t Sleep.

T. J.

“Don’t Sleep” guest lineup

I know a lot of you have been curious about who I’ll have on the first episode and the first week of “Don’t Sleep.”  So, let me tell you.

Here’s the first week’s lineup:  a Crime Scene Investigator, a lady with a “View”, one of my favorite movie characters of all time, royalty, a nutty professor, 3 pastors, and a black Republican.

That should be all you need to figure out exactly who you’ll see on “Don’t Sleep” this week.   

Still can’t believe this is actually happening tomorrow.

T. J.