I maybe want to ask you more kind of open ended questions and let you sort of say what you would like. But I guess, you know, maybe just as a prompt, do you want to talk about how you came to be in the world of WDET at Wayne State, educational broadcasting, how you came to this whole world? What's your background?
Okay. Well, I think that's a good good starting point. Because my life experiences growing up in the south. I'm extremely poor circumstances. And practically everything in the way of my life history was an integral part of the motivation that led me to, to produce that series. And living in Detroit. We were going through, as you know, what was considered to be one of the most violent civil eruptions in the country at that time. And I became aware because of the position that I held as, as a worker in the state childcare area, dealing with kids who were part of the conflict, who were neglected or abused, delinquent. I became very aware and concerned about actually the I'll just be very been in competency of the general American media, in terms of really getting at the root causes of what was going on. And I'll give you a concrete example. During the rebelling in our riots that occurred here, the news characterization of the people involved was out of touch with reality. There were considerable stereotypes. And I had the fortune of being at the juvenile court, where many of the kids who were involved in various acts and the riot, their behavior, their attitude, their feelings, the condition that they were facing, did not match the description that the media was portraying. It did not correctly depict the significance of what that meant. It was put in more sensationalistic terms, and I have some strong feelings with my political science and background, that you cannot have a stable democracy without a free press that fully informed citizens with the real facts that they need to make critical decisions. And I felt at that time, and I still do to a certain extent, although we've made some progress, that the kind of stereotypical, lightweight reporting that was not promoting the full depth and understanding that the American public needed to really begin to tackle those problems. And the fact that some of those problems still exist. I feel we have to look at, um, to a certain extent, the failure of American journalism. And I've called upon journalists from time to time to really try to sharpen their approach to reporting the news. Because I don't think that we'll ever get on top of all the monumental problems that we're having, without an informed public who have enough objective data to make wise decisions. I think basically, the American people are fair minded. Given the information that they need, they will ultimately try to be fair, but I think, on the other hand, is equally true and dangerous. That misinformation. Reinforcing stereotypes. Contribute to problems of racism and sexism, and the lack of response to brutality towards kids which we've all witnessed over the last four years. Um, I don't regard these as political statements, but as a social criticism of an important institution. But I do feel that you cannot really, be balanced when one party is so far out of touch with reality that you compromise the truth in terms of trying to insert certain kinds of spins to create a sense of balance. I don't know, if you're following me in that regard.
Yes, of course,
I can give you more concrete examples. But that's really what initiated it. And in those days, in the 1960s, we've come, we made some progress. But in the 1960s, especially in Detroit, I think it was one of the saddest chapters, I've seen in terms of how media did reporting on social problems. And it was prompted by my being living in the areas that they were covering and being intimately involved with people who are affected and involved in the rebellion of that time. And so the reality that I was seeing, you know, on the front on there, at the grassroots level, didn't match the picture that there was painting for national audience, which ultimately did affect how political parties dealt with those issues, and did influence in some ways, negative kinds of and false solutions, that really was not helpful. And allowed, the program's allowed social problems to become even more complex. And it's led to some of the kinds of, of sad things that we're seeing today in American society. My I've had a history, from the time that I was born, of facing racism, of dealing with police officers, who felt their main role was to keep black people in their place was one of the reasons I left the South headed north with the idea of somehow finding the American dream. And I did to a certain extent, find that I got my footing, academically, education wise. And so I decided, why not speak about it. Um, I was encouraged by instructors and friends, to put those criticisms forward, by putting forth my own commentary, in a program like Seeds of Discontent. So Seeds of Discontent, rolls out of my life story, my life experiences, as well as the new issues that were emerging in American society. So I had kind of like a first, a front row seat, and a grassroot picture of the dynamics of what was happening in a society. And it simply was in the media failed in that regard, I found radio to be a more comfortable medium for dealing with that. Because TV presentations were so squeezed into a particular format, one of which was we have to be balanced on certain issues. We got to show both sides. And sometimes there's only one side when it comes to what is just and what is not. And when you try to convert that into satisfying political parties, then you're distorting reality. I don't know if that's coming through. But that was the genesis of my drive and motivation to take, at least at an individual level, some corrective action to the extent that I could as an individual, and I felt that it was a way of contributing to a broader understanding of these issues and hopefully then lead to a more collaborative, cooperative model of democracy where everybody had a fighting chance. Okay.
That's amazing. Yeah, I was gonna want to let you go as long as you'd like. It didn't, I didn't want to
Well I'll continue , I like to give concrete examples, so that you get a full understanding, and I am a social critic of the media, but at the time, but at the same time, I am a strong exponent of promoting a free press. You can have a democracy without it. So, no matter what we do, if we do not convey the right messages to the public, and we can't get the job done, I want to give you a concrete example of what I mean by shortcoming so the media and I'm not the first media critic to to say this. But the last election of 2016, let's take a look at that. Hillary Clinton, ah, was probably one of the most, um, educated, competent figures ever to run for president any of us. And yet, the way the media handled it, it created a kind of an air of distrust of distrust around her there. And when you look at her credentials, versus Donald Trump, who won, there was no contest. When you look at her history of her accomplishments, she was one of the first ones to tackle a major national problem, health care. She was also responsible for initiating programs and services that provided health care, to disadvantaged youth, and children. She did some pioneering work in that regard, and did suffer some real harm and political problems as a result of that. But I think the case can be made that the media's bias towards her and it was built in. I don't think I saw an interview where there was not some talking point relating to issues that were not relevant to the problem at hand, for example, the emails, the emails, the constant degrading of it, rather than emphasizing the contributions that she had made to this country, and especially to children. That bothered me because that was my professional area, both from as a worker, as a teacher. And here again, I feel that Americans never got the full picture of what her competency level was, and what she could achieve. And so I'll take the position. And I think a lot of people will agree with me now that we made probably one of the worst decisions in terms of leadership of this country that we've made. I think the facts speak for themselves in terms of what we faced over the last four years. And it's directly related to how the media handle her as a person and I could not help but to believe part of it was sexist. And part of it was because of her devotion to children and the amount of resources that should be devoted in that direction. When you compare the two on any two objective basis, from a scientific social science point of view, there was no comparison between her competency level and that of the man who ultimately became president. But yet the media felt that it had to give equal time balanced reporting, using false narratives that put her in a negative defensive light. And so when Mr. Comey, whom I regard as a highly intelligent and fair minded individual made the statements that he did at the time and the way the media handled that created a kind of storm, if you will, in terms of, of misunderstanding. And, in fact,
send us down the wrong road is a very dangerous road, which left a lot of individuals wondering, you know, what is America becoming? Is this the real face of America. And it also led to some manipulations in terms of the whole concept of democracy, meaning that of majority rule. It cheapened and downgraded the true real of the American people who had cast more votes for her than him. So I have some real problems with that. And I'll be very honest, and they did what I think that when the media, they can't control all of it, but they can do a lot better job of leveling the playing field, and submitting facts in a way that the public can consume it and to make fair decisions in that regard. And when that does not happen, um, I think you can look at so I can at least look at all the tragedies of the last four years, and is directly related to how the media handle that particular important event in our nation's history. Um, I can go on, but there are a number of false narratives that have that the media puts forth, not intentionally, but I think in an in a way, they're trying to make sure they fall within the parameters of bad balanced reporting, whatever that means. That in itself is a subjective term depends on who's looking at it, what kind of judgments they were making, as to whether or not it's balanced. Um, so that's still a major problems I saw her failure are the failure to elect her as a tremendous failure in terms of how media reports, social and political events, and that it's time for a wake up call for reporters to sharpen their capacity to report on important social and political issues. Um, I don't put all the blame, what what I'm saying is that it has a tremendous influence on who gets elected and who has power, who are put in decision making positions. And we're not going to deal with problems that we know exists, like racism, sexism, the disadvantage, without looking at problems from a real social science perspective. And of course, my background is heavily based on social science, mixed with my life experiences. As a black man growing up in America. I'm created a kind of motivation and passion to write and to become a social critic in that regard. And I found that kind of criticism and approach to looking at all of the institutions that impact on providing solutions to major social problems. I found those experiences from Seeds of Discontent to be very helpful in my academic career. Many courses that I taught and helped to create at Wayne State University in the Department of Community organization got started with numerous interviews that you heard on seeds of discontent, which came from people who are experienced and were were able, through interviews with me to to express some of the realities that there were facing, which you just simply could not find in the media. Okay, am I giving you a kind of a A picture, a holistic picture of why I became involved the motivation for producing seeds of discontent. And I think many of the things that were stated
at the conclusion of seeds of discontent, especially Episode 26, where I put forth the proposition that if we tried to retreat from those issues, and tried to go back to the 1950s, the dis country would be in turmoil, and that the very essence of our notion of democracy would be at risk. And I think to a certain extent, history has veel 50 years later, that we will came very close to that point. I'm more optimistic on why we put it this way. If I conducted this interview with you, three weeks ago, before the election was decided, it would have been a great deal more, let's say it would have been a less hope, I would have been much more fearful about maintaining a democratic society, I think we're dangerously close to a dictatorship in terms of how decisions were being made, especially about allocation of resources on a fair basis, um, with this election, which I think was a true people's election, if you will, where you had multiple cultural, ethnic, different racial groups coming together as one should and in order to maintain a, a democratic society, to resist the temptation of going down that road. And I was extremely nervous that it might go the other way. And when things turned out the way they did, according to the will, of the public, of the voters. It had a tremendous, I was tremendously relieved, and have a great deal more optimism today than I had, prior to this election. I think this election based on the history that I have witnessed, that I have attempted to document to the best of my ability, um, could very well have been a nightmare for the, for the nation. And I think we dodged it there. Um, there was some more progressive reporting. But we have a long ways to go and not allow the media to become such an artificial, commercialized venture, I know you have to have air time, it takes money to be able to produce. But ultimately, this institution has been given special exemptions and support because they are supposed to play a vital role in terms of providing the information that we need, as a nation to stay united. And some of the reporting does not do that. It's one group against the other. It's sometimes boils down to who can get the story out first, who can generate the most interest, no matter if that interest has little to do with what the actual picture is from a social science point of view? And I don't expect them to write learning journals. But I think at best they have to do at least they have to do better documentation and not get into such a rigid formbuilder of how you must report. Okay, yeah, um, I can. I have numerous examples of that, that I'm currently writing on to document how the failures of adequate reporting has influenced bad outcome.
And, but at this point, I'm still kind of settling in and more relaxed about where we are as a nation. I just We really dodged the bullet. And a lot of that I laid to the media in terms of how that situation came out. I'm talking specifically about the events of 2016. I think the long run history of social scientists and others will agree pretty much with the proposition that the best person and not the right person was selected to lead us towards our dream of a true democratic society. And to the extent that that happens as a result of lack of adequate information, media must bear some responsibility. I do make an exception in terms of organizations like the National Association of radio broadcasters, um, there tends to be a much more in depth in factual based reporting, um, seem to be much more professional journalism, as I understand it. But in terms of the general media now, call one out in specifically Fox News, I think it's questionable to me as to whether or not from my perspective, as a black man in America, that we can call that a free press that it is controlled by a small group of ideologues. And it's closer to what I consider from my understanding of the nature of newspapers to be more like a almost a state sponsored publication.
I just wanted to ask if you could expand on something because I keep hearing you bring it up. And I just wanted to ask if you could elaborate on one particular element of what you're saying and what and that is that this idea that, and I'm completely in agreement with you on all of it. But the idea that the the idea that the news media and balanced reporting, for example, coverage of events by the news media versus like what you were saying with educational and public broadcasting having a more balanced approach towards towards these issues. But I'm curious about the format's that you see out there, specifically, the format of seeds of discontent tends to meet it seems to me to be really unique in that it does have, like you said, Episode 26 is a sort of like, I've listened to all these people, I did all this research, I've observed all these things. And these are my observations and thoughts in like, very well informed reasons for thinking the way I do. But before that is a lot of you interview people sort of like Studs Terkel, but with you do it with a more pointed, you know, I want to make sure I cover this and cover this and cover this, you interview different types of people before you've got to essentially your thesis. And so it strikes me as is hitting a very particular area that allows it to be more egalitarian, more on the ground, but then also very well researched. And it's just a very unique program in that way to me, because it's not, it's not strictly the news, it's more and it's not strictly an opinion piece or a documentary, either. It's something interestingly, in between those things. And a lot of the other stuff in the NA Eb is very dry lectures, which are very different from what seeds of discontent is to me.
It's not like you're not lecturing,
you know, you're starting with like, sort of man on the street interviews, but then you kind of end with, like a really well thought out, you know, thoughtful final analysis. And I just wondered if you could talk about like the format you decided on, and whether you thought it filled a need or a gap, or whether it's just something that organically came to be for you.
Right. As I indicated, I grew up in an environment that was sometimes the target of inaccurate reporting by the media. And one of the things that I saw was, they tended to go and ask an individual, about their opinion and then generalize from that individual as to what the nature of the problem was. People who are poor, people who have been disadvantaged, do have a point of view and important things to say I don't think you can fully understand a problem without asking the people who are suffering, what it means to them. And to get their point of view, um, that you don't come in with a preconceived notion based on a third party's opinion about what the problems are, and then shape your interviews around that. You go to the people who are suffering who are impacted by the problem. And I think any good researcher has to do that you go to the source of the problem. And that way you have been able to document in a realistic sense, the experience that people are having. From that, then you establish a basis for analysis, looking at a broad range of compiled research, and try to expand on that, in an effort to complete aim to provide a more complete, cohesive message that the public can understand and learn from. So yeah, that's, that's a basic premise that also comes from my training. In the field of social work, we were we always take the position that you start with where the people are, you don't come in with a high and mighty attitude, but you know, and then try to justify your particular point of view, to satisfy whoever your interest group is, I think you have to take, that's the basis of pure research. As far as I'm concerned. Anything less than that you're doing some conjecture, you're doing judgmental kinds of conclusions, before you even know who you're dealing with, and what their feelings are. If you've wanted to find solutions, you have to take that iteration otherwise, any solutions and proposed solutions, more than likely will be off target. So I'm about finding effective solutions. And in order to do that, you start with a people executives are, you don't end with that, then you go to research studies, the collected knowledge that we have about human behavior about social problem, and use that then to analyze that particular situation and that particular group. So if you'll notice and seeds of discontent, there were a concentrated on groups, who were being talked about in the media as being part of the unrest during the 60s. That included the black youth alienated white youth from suburbia, who were making up what was called the hippies. Um, there were a school teachers who felt like outcast and, and, and overworked. Um, they had important things to say about the reality of what they were faced with. And we needed to have an understanding of all of the groups that were involved in the problems that we were talking about. So I sought them out and sent it to a certain extent, I was in the middle of where a lot of the action was, at that time, Detroit was kind of a microcosm of
what was going on in the larger society, and still is, and it was kind of a forerunner of the kind of social unrest that we're going to face. And so, I thought it, it provided a good basis for promoting a deeper understanding of what I call the urban environment, which was at the heart of our social problems. And when we reduced that to its simplest terms, um, a lot of the issues that were involved in had to do with sense of alienation or lack of access to the basic human resources that are needed. Um, the high unemployment situation as it relates to drastic changes in the economy. Um, we we do not make the relationship between the Salur of large institutions and an economic system and visa v the kind of problems people are having Show me a family who does not have a livable income. And I'll show you the seeds of discontent that will fall. It will lead to family breakup, in many instances, it will lead to some emotional problems with children, which then at some point to society must deal with. But when you have a discussion around, what do we do about that? One of the false narratives is we can't wage wages, we can have a livable wage, exactly force prices up and it will make things out of reach for all of us, it'll be worse for all of us. Well, I think, really, if we review the research, you'll find that the opposite is true. That the there is no one to one relationship between a say having a livable wage, and having to have the prices of basic necessities like food, medicine, and so forth, go through the roof. What you're talking about really is to what degree you're going to allow a profit margin or anything, we have to be honest about that. But I don't think you'll pick that up in the typical newscasts. at six o'clock wha, where many Americans, let's face it, that's their main source of news and about facts, and then the nature of a problem. And so there has been since the 19, late 1960s, a little progress made in providing a livable wage, which has produced some very deteriorating effects on family life. And when the family institution suffers, you're going to get major spill out in terms of other issues and the larger society, we must come to grips with that. And we haven't to this late day come to grips with it. And I do feel that media reporting, in terms of well, we have to prevent both present both points of view. You know, there are no two points of view when you say that a person is entitled to a living wage, that when they work 40 hours a week, they ought to be able to support themselves and their family. That's just axiomatic. If you can't provide that you sow the seeds of discontent. you sow the seeds for the development of social problems. Family is one of the most basic institutions in society. And when other institutions deprive it of its resources, the vital ones I'm not talking about, everybody has to have two cars in the garage. But what I am saying is that in a so called civilized society, you cannot have a situation where people are working 4050 and 60 hours, and still unable to feed their families and have to go to food line. Aside from the nutritional damage that's being done. It does something to one's sense of belonging to a society. And it has a very alienating effect on the children. And there are a series of studies that came out of
California compiled over 30 years talking about really the negative m neck the negative impacts of biomedical forces such as, such as high employment rates, on families and children over an extended period of time. Other factors, like the number of times that a family has to move in order to find a job is a is a is a kind of factor that destabilizes relationships. If you have constantly moved to find a job, how do you ever develop a sense of community, a sense of belonging. And so eventually, if you don't get on top of that problem, ah, you're going to create tremendous pockets of alienation and sense of loss of meaning. And just desperation that does lead to a number of mental issues that will problems, crime, which we then have to devote tremendous amount of resources, societal resources, to trying to control it, just to control it. Never, never mind solving. So there's some basic kinds of what I call just fundamental needs, that in urban society, especially, have not been read, really since the 1960s. And they think research will show that people's ability to acquire their basic needs in relationship to the wages that are being paid, is not really risen, and kept track with inflation. And so more and more families are falling behind, the more families that fall behind. The results will be more problems with children, less productive workers in society, and a whole host of social problems. Like we're having today. Okay. There are other issues too, in terms of the changing nature of our, our, our economy, in terms of how it affects the institution of education, which is also in terms of families, and children being able to feel affiliated with society. With the removal of jobs, from major inner cities, you've left pockets of of poverty, you've left pockets of of, of areas where it's like an urban desert, where it's doggy dog, because there are no means of acquiring the basic necessities of life. And we're not preparing people in ways where they can compete for jobs that are replacing those that are being removed. We're not investing in education in those communities because of the disappearing taxpayer. So we have to take a total look at how we fund schools, how we make decisions about who gets what, in a way of educational research. And the media, how it's covered, how they present it to the public, can have a positive role, or negative role in terms of of the outcomes that recur. Okay.
Can I ask you what your process was for getting to produce seeds of discontent with Did you? Did you approach the station? Or did they approach you? And did you? Have you ever? Had you ever done this kind of work before, particularly in radio or journalism at all? Or were you working primarily in social work, and this was one for a intendancy this realm?
Well, I, from my undergraduate days, was always an aspiring writer, if you will. So I, I socialized with a lot of people who were writers who are artists in that regard, and they actually encouraged me as a result of dialogues that we were having to find a way of making some of that content, public. Um, I had a friend who had connections with WD at an older gentleman by the name of David Lewis. And he and I used to go at it over a beer in the local watering spot there at Wayne State University and form a group of would be writers and intellectuals. And, and they encourage me to speak out. So I was kind of a public speaker before that. made a number of being a civil rights activist. Talking among small groups, trying to get communities organized to get better treatment, and they felt that I had some gift of gab, if you will, and encouraged me to maybe tried to put that into a talk show, if you will. And then WD et was a very approachable organization because of the connection with a university. And I wrote up a proposal for the model that became seeds of discontent. And my friend presented it to the director of WD et. And they felt many of the items that we because they weren't current, because they were hot topics, would be a great material to promote further discussion, and to make a contribution to really dealing with the situation in Detroit. And so it was all on a voluntary basis. They provided me with the tape recorder. And I took it from there. And I didn't know Detroit very well. And because of my, my, my background, my circumstances, I knew that there were discussions and barbershops were important points were being made, that there were various groups who were rebelling against the social order at that time. So I had access to those groups. And I combined that was my passion for writing. To produce that all of the the broadcasts that were presented, I wrote down, I would do one or two hours recording, and just let people provide their point of view. And then I took that, and developed a script to capture the essence of that. So I could, I did the interviews. And then in the Analyze the interviews, looked at the literature, as it related to the kinds of issues that they were raising, and wrote, the entire script, all of what you hear was written down, and I was reading from script that I had prepared before each program. And it was, in an essence, similar to writing an essay continually. But I wanted to make sure I got a full picture of all of the groups that were involved that would were affected by the social problems, any uprising of that time. So Mike combination, the combination of my frustrations of being becoming it allow me to satisfy some of my aspirations to become a writer. And so I wrote those scripts. And the same way, I had written other pieces that I had shared with groups and so forth when I was making speeches, because I felt it was very important to be as specific or
as clear, and as to get as much meaning out of the material ahead as possible. So I wrote it like a movie script. I wanted it to be entertaining, but I wanted to be factual. And I was encouraged to, to say that people felt I had something to say. And thanks to WD et they gave me a medium to do that. And after the first three or four shows, it was something I look forward to doing every week. It was it satisfied, my, my urge to be a writer,
if you will. But it seemed really I'm curious to know if you had a model for that, or it was just completely organic. Did you look at another type of program or here or did you have a favorite program that you were modeling the structure of, you know, the, the way that you did the scripts, or did you just kind of like this is what I think should happen. There's anything like it was it was a
creative product, and that was the satisfying part of it. It as I said, it stemmed from my desire to to be a writer. Um, and it helped me to become a writer because I continue to write at a more academic level. So it was the artist side of me, you know, some people have a passion for wanting to become a painter or a writer. And that was a Driving Force. So no, the the the the terminology seeds of discontent, the title, all of it, I wanted to be an organic piece, as you indicated, I wanted it to be a new exploration, a new way of communicating to audiences in a way that we might produce more productive outcomes, and solving problems, not only in Detroit, but on a national basis. So as opposed to getting a story published and sailing landing, it gave me an opportunity every week to get some satisfaction from my ability to write in a way that was meaningful to others. And that was very satisfying. I got no pay for it. I worked at it on my own after work, um, but it was satisfying, it was not a job. I was told an undergraduate school also, that if you to be a good writer, you had to have a have a, you really had a desire to bitch about something. Sorry for the terminology. Um, and I had a lot of things to bitch about at that time. That provided me with a appropriate, I felt I'm constructing way to rather than just bitch about things, to do something. So it was like sitting down and trying to craft a story, a short story or a political essay, where you wanted to make sure that you illuminated in some way, the human condition, that was the driving force. And so it, no, I created it. On the basis of my life experiences, what I was going through, and I thought it was something meaningful to say, and that could be satisfying. I think the same forces that drive people to become writers are serious journalists. Were the same kind of things. But I did feel that we needed a new format of communicating, rather than the typical commercialized form of news that people were going. I had some serious concerns, again, about its relationship to us getting over and solving what we were facing in the 60s, and what we're still facing today. Does that get out what you're
definitely definitely sounds like you just sort of organic, like I said, organically came up with what you thought was the format that met me and it wasn't being met in the media, which I agree, I agree. Even within this collection, I'm finding, there's not a lot of series that are like yours.
So yeah, I got a lot of positive feedback in the beginning, which encouraged me to go further. Initially, it was only supposed to be about a series of six programs. And the feedback we got over not only from Detroit, but in from a number of areas, particularly after the national educational radio picked it up. And it was being used in some school curriculums, and the positive feedback and just ordinary citizens who were listening to it. I, I felt I had somehow struck a chord vein that was important for people and that I was accomplishing something that was helpful to them, and hopefully to the society in general.
Yeah, it's what I'm gleaning from this, from hearing you in my impression, and correct me if I'm wrong is that your the fact that you weren't coming up through the ranks of like, training to be a broadcaster, you were coming from the social work? point of view, you had a different way you weren't. I think a lot of times when people come up and they aim to be broadcasters, they want to work in radio, then even unconsciously, they hear other things and they mimic it or you know, they think well, this is what a a series on the radio was supposed to sound like and so they sort of like we'll drive it in that vein, but you were coming in From the from way over here and just being like, this is just what needs to be done. This is just like the kind of programming that we need. And I'm not looking at anything else and copying it, I'm not, I'm not trying to match what else is on the radio, I'm just doing what I think is like, necessary right now and this time,
right, I wanted to create an alternative format, because I didn't think that the format that was used and what I call standard American journalism, particularly newspaper reporting, and TV, they found to be quite inadequate in terms of promoting the degree and the depth of understanding that was going to be needed to, to provide the progress and open up more opportunities for myself, the people who were responsible for me being able to become educated in the first place. And I it also, at that time, it was the kind of a social activist environment, as you know. And we were all trying to explore ways and means of being a part of that. And I found mine to be to try to be as creative as possible in getting a message of social justice and the need for and why it was necessary across as opposed to trying to get it public. I had direct access to a wide audience. And the response that happened as a result increased. And lo and behold, it went on for 26 sessions as opposed to six sessions. So it was like I would imagine a short story writer, or a political essayez would do in terms of how do I reach in and add new meaning and insight into this human condition, though it was an artistic endeavor, as opposed to trying to fit into the model that had been created for journalistic reporting. At that time, I thought it was inadequate. I think it has grown since then. But I still think we still have a ways to go in terms of improving, I'm providing the kind of information that the public needs to make better decisions in the interest of other people who are suffering. And just to promote a stronger democracy in this country, which I strongly believe in. I'm not a critic of American society, I'm critical of certain. I try to zero in on areas that need to be criticized, based on my knowledge of social research. And when I spot those failures, especially where groups have an ability to do I contribute more. I think we all been have a responsibility, I think any good journalist, a professional journalist that has that central responsibility. And if they do not stick to that, then they really compromising themselves in terms of from a professional point of view. Not everybody agrees with regard. But I think we need to improve that kind of journalism, if you will. It's and I don't think that violates the concept of balanced reporting, because as I said, when you really analyze what we mean by balance, it's an objective, who decides what's balanced? Sometimes there is only one point of view, in terms of a particular problem or situation in a journalist will span a different message in order to somehow say we must present both sides of this issue. The issue of the right to vote is only one side, as far as I'm concerned. We can argue about how do we promote this, but whether or not an individual has a right to vote, under our concept of constitutional law, which is the foundation of our democracy. I don't see how you can do balanced reporting on that. You either are far you can hit Have a democratic society without guaranteeing the right to vote. It's not a political issue. It's a fundamental part of your notion of how your society is organized. Yeah.
Don't do that. Sorry, I
was gonna go ahead. No, go ahead.
I'm just gonna ask how did you find the people that you've interviewed in the series? How did you? Did you come across them in your work as a social organizer? Or did you just go out? And did you put an ad out to find people?
Okay, initially, in the beginning, I knew most of the people, for example, the first program, which dealt with interviews with kids who were really in trouble, and were on their way to juvenile prisons, who had been arrested and brought to the juvenile court. The number of cases that I would see in a given year was uncle. And my partner, my job was to visit those families. Um, I had multiple contacts with families, with community organizations. And there were people, we had a lot of people who were activists. And so I would one thread would lead to another, some I knew, I knew other grass wood, people who knew them. And I also had a lot of people that I knew within the university, students, people from the group that kind of hung out at the local watering hole. And so it was kind of like doing detective work. How do I find and where do I find this group? Why I knew something about Detroit, I knew, for example, where a displace white Southerners live, I knew we're black bottom, if you will, wasn't true to it, and do have contacts there, because I had lived significant and important part of my life in that region. So I knew the neighborhood, my connections with the doing a CT, my connections with the university gave me a whole array of people that I knew that I could use as leads for stories. And for example, the interviews that I did with the older gentleman, very good, who were reflecting on the history of Detroit, going all the way back to what 1919 um, that was near where I live. And I used to occasionally come there, um, to sit and listen, before I produce this show, if you learned that a lot of political discussion and neighborhood, particularly among black men, Sunday morning, in the barber shop, well, precedent families at church, we were arguing about who was the best politician or many things. And so that in itself, I had a, I had a whole network of people who could provide me with leads, there were some key people who knew other people, and I would approach them in that regard. And they would advocate that what I was doing and that I might want to interview them. And most were very, very open to wanting to speak. And they were not accustomed to people coming to them and asking them for their point of view. And of course, it gave them an opportunity to be on radio, which was a big deal for a lot of people. So it just kind of took off. When I started, I wasn't sure if it was going to work. But I felt it was worth trying that if I if that that if I was going to do it. I wanted to have it produced some meaningful information that could be used to motivate others to to participate in this great democracy of ours. Yeah,
I'm shocked to hear that they did not pay you but I'm curious to know if you were working for the university as a professor yet or if that came later when you said you had been doing this work. Are you had been working on seeds of discontent, quote unquote after work, I was curious if you could define what your work consisted of, I know that you eventually led the Community Services Division of the college, I didn't know if you were doing that right then or if that was later,
I actually started before that says, when I was this, when I, when I came out of graduate school, I was offered a very exciting possibility. I'm at the juvenile court and the state. In Detroit, we had a monumental problem of inadequate facilities to house juvenile delinquents. And at the time of the riot, I was working in areas where most of that was occurring. And so I was not affiliated with the university. At that time, I actually, it was through this network of I call Kupo. intellectual and semi intellectuals who kind of hung around in those days, you know, the coffee house and the bars and so forth. And it was an approach by me as an individual. Now, after that developed, the University heard, I felt it might have some relevance in terms of the urban mission that Wayne was undertaking, because some of that material that I was producing was directly related to areas that they were a challenge and being challenged to do better on. And so in effect, well, when I said afterwork, I meant that it was after putting in eight hours of work for that project. Under I was state employee, but I was housed at the juvenile court to create what was called a, a screening unit. So that we could do a better job of analyzing and determining which kids might work out in other than a juvenile prison environment. It was the early experiments of community placement, as opposed to a sentence to say a juvenile jail. And so my job was to screen kids after the judge had made a decision and tried to determine and recommend those who with the right support could remain in the community with a variety of support. And so I'm that job in itself produced a lot of questions in my mind, because I saw a lot of those kids that shouldn't have been there in the first place. And I began to ask my question, what are we doing? Why isn't there something for this kid whose basic problem is them food? He doesn't have shelter? Why does it have to come into a criminal context, where once you put a kid through that system, they're more than likely going to come out? worse. And so that was my job. And I but I had a passion to it opened up a lot of questions in my mind, regarding whether or not our juvenile justice system at that time was really organized properly to do the job. Okay. And so, I wanted to know how so many families were in that predicament. And I wanted to know it from their point of view. Um, it was kind of like Ay, ay, ay ay ay was kind of driven to get some answers as to why there was such institutinal failures and talking within my intellectual circles with other community leaders, um, I, it was suggested that maybe
you ought to get into speaking more on this. And so it just so happens that I had a friend who was a technician at WDET and he says, Wait, I think I think this may be something that they can use. And so the first material that presented was based on some of the concerns that I had about the work that I was doing, and also how the news media was covering those stories, which were completely inadequate, it was not leading to providing the supportive services that was needed. And I, I just felt something is wrong here. There's a great injustice being done, that we may be creating more problems that we're solving. And so just like the fervor of a, I was a social activist, and dual role, I was very active in dealing with the issue of discriminatory housing, I'm a part of activist groups who were trying to confront that by demonstrations by making public speeches. And so those activities in mind speaking out on those issues, led to suggestions that are to find a more formalized way of doing that on an on a, on a, on a basis. So all of them was on a voluntary basis. I was not paid a penny, for any of that work for any of the hours that I put in going into what was considered dangerous areas of the city, or even into areas where some of my questions that I was asking were not exactly met with friendly reception. But I felt was important. It was kind of driven in those days, as many social activists were to try to do what one could to which we say speaks truth to power.
If you don't mind me asking, what happened to is when you taped these interviews, did you edit them yourself? And what were their outtakes? Who has the full footage that is obviously taped more than you ended up getting into the show,
I have all of the original tapes. But what we would do is do from my original raw tapes, with the street sounds with I think, if you listen carefully, and the barber shop, to make sure that the environment in which it was being recorded was fully captured. And so there were certain points, some of which were repetitive. But we had only a 30 minute time frame in and so I along with one of the station engineers, I would read and say, I think this is an excerpt that fits in and is clear in terms of expressing the meaning of this particular session, he would then cut out all of the relevant points leading up to that, and we would then edit it down to the final message. But I started off with a subject and an idea that I wanted to put forward in the interviews provided and then selected the best, I felt most entertaining and meaningful parts of those interviews to distill into a 30 minute format that the station could run with, we roll out at 30 minutes. The only thing that was provided with me was I think that at that time, one of the was a fabulous on site record called made by Japanese who was extremely expensive. And they gave me possession of that to carry with me. I kept it in the trunk of my car. And when I had an opportunity to do an interview, I would do it. And so after in some instances it would take an hour. In one interview with the late Mayor Coleman young before he became when he was a state senator. There was up to two hours of recording a dialogue with him, and we then distilled take the essence of what was being said and spliced into a tight 30 minute format would summarize and provide you with I think some answers slides into some of the questions that you're asking me now, in fact, as a result of our exchange, I remember now that I've been down this road before. And it actually written it up, where I took specific excerpts and explain why this model of reporting called seeds of discontent was produced its purpose and what our goals and objective was. But I think the good thing about that is it. Again, by editing, I selected out key portions of the main shows that were produced or programs that were produced, which will give you a kind of a kind of cohesive version of everything that we've been talking about here. And you could reduce it to, to a format where you could in fact, play it back and get deeper insights into the points that I'm making. today. I have, as I said, I retired from teaching in 2012, when I was diagnosed with fourth stage cancer, ah, I survived that. I'm still coping with it. And I'm still writing this, I appreciate your reaching out to me and would gladly share this with you and be open to any ideas that you have. In terms of
utilization, we can talk about that at a later time was very, that was very helpful. And it did bring back some very lucid memories. Because, you know, when you've written something, even though it's 50 years later, all of a sudden, you know, you have this, this very lucid flashback to what was actually going on. And it was very rewarding, much more rewarding to look at it, not only hear it, but to see it in print in that in that life. And I think the the one tape that I have here, which is really like a summary of the intent of seen to discontent, t excerpts of the most talked about programs, and the ones that we see great feedback on would, I think provide you with some very important supplemental materials that you could work with in that regard. And we'll work on how we can transmit that I have the original tape from 1968, um, that I've kept with me all these years, in fact, that kept all of my original tapes, some upwards of three hours of recordings regarding one particular show that we reduced to 30 minutes that would give you even a deeper understanding of what was going on.
That would be amazing. I would love to look more into that. I think, like, the interest in that would be great, actually. Okay, last one, one last thing on this in the subject, you know, I wanted to ask about your summary, you've mentioned that you had given a proposal or summary of your proposal for the series two network. And I'm just know, if you look at this, I have kind of do these very, like one sentence descriptions of each episode. I'm just curious if you have any materials, I'm wondering if we can work together even on a very ad hoc basis, like you could take your iPad and take a picture of it or something. And I could use that to make these a little more fleshed out these descriptions of the see of the different episodes. And we can work on that over time, but it's just something that you know, if I'm drawing people's attention to the series, it would be great to have more kind of robust information on here.
I could certainly do that. I'd be very interested. And even just if you have Did you say that you have? I know you said you had all the tapes, but do you also have the summary or proposal I guess that you submitted to the to the station that original proposal anywhere your records
on the array No one that we've submitted to the station.
Okay. I think the the tape that I'm talking about covers all of that, and of how it came into being what we felt the meaning or what I felt the meaning of. And the importance of it was and gives you come more complete excerpts. Plus, I have all of the what I would call the evidentiary tapes that we have extracted the distilled version from it, it might be interested in particularly in terms of bass bigger like the lake Coleman young, who is a very controversial Mayor of the City of Detroit, but a brilliant politician in terms of getting things done. He was a natural historian himself. And people were very fascinated by him, but he isn't in his involved there. There are a number of other figures from Detroit, who made contributions that he might be interested in and who later achieved national thing, such as john conyers. I was also one of my mentors, in terms of speaking out in this regard and crafting materials of this nature was the late Rosa Parks that I worked with for some time in john conyers office. And so all these people had the ideas and concepts and battles that they were fighting is incorporated within these tapes. So it's a bit of social and political history, that's very important in terms of understanding the history of Detroit, and to that extent, urban America. So
you had your views with Rosa Parks on those tapes?
No, she was one of the my mentors who encouraged me, okay, big out, I have the Coleman young take, um, I did not record her. However, I had a working relationship with her. And she was part of the inspiration that helped me to continue and put in those, all those voluntary hours, she in fact, indicated that she felt I had something important to say. And that I should be about saying that. And I like to give tribute to people who were mentors, who kind of helped me to stay in the game to put in the tremendous number of voluntary hours that I did to complete this, which was, which was really, extremely satisfying. It would have been nice to have had some financial rewards. But the rewards that I got from it eventually did work out for me. And the intent was not for personal reward. But really interesting, in terms of being able to be a part of making some significant part, you know, contribution to learning in our society about areas that, frankly, we've got to beef up our game on if we're ever going to get on top of those problems. Those kind of a sublimated and sublimation of my social activism, it gave me an outlet to really, I think, promote social justice, which was my main mission, because I had been a victim of social injustice is very satisfying. And so there's any way that we can collaborate in terms of making it more explicit and marketable to the general public. After 50 years, kind of like amazing, if you will, it does not appear to have been that long ago. Yeah.
Yeah. Especially since the listening to this stuff. It doesn't seem it seems very, very relevant. I mean, it does not seem it doesn't even seem like it's aged. It seems like it could have been recorded yesterday, some of it.
Yes, that's what I've been told. That's why original materials and really, probably would have continued More down this road, except it did lead to my position at Wayne State University where I was given a leadership role in actually writing grants and research projects to get programs started to address those issues. So, you know, in the end, it proved to be mutually beneficial in that regard. And I did a tenure at Wayne State University and taught for 40 years retire.
I have to train many of the social activists who ultimately helped Detroit restore a more peaceful environment. And we're going through a tremendous period of regrowth now. And a lot of the people who came through our very advanced curriculum at that time, did go on to become community leaders, and had a major impact on on the city of Detroit, the state and though I run into them, here and there, it's all together been very satisfying. And it started with his voluntary desire to say something meaningful about dealing with the problem, the media reporting its impact on solving social problems. I am looking forward to that. Excellent. Read.
This is like such a treasure is like such an amazing like a bracket to the end of this project to have like, gotten this email from your daughter gotten to talk to you. I mean, like, it's like the archivists dream. It was a treat to like get someone who's seen something they produced 50 years ago.
That was able to be of some assistance in this regard.