Strange Fruit (radio program), Louisville, KY
The following information was written and submitted by Laura Ellis, producer of the radio program Strange Fruit at 89.3 WFPL. The entry was added to the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database with permission from Laura Ellis. Received via email 03/30/2015. Strange Fruit is believed to be the first and the only radio program in Kentucky to focus on race, gender, and LGBTQ issues.
Strange Fruit is a weekly talk show that airs on 89.3 WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky, and is podcast on strangefruitpod.org. Our tagline is "Musings on Politics, Pop Culture, and Black Gay Life," we focus on race, gender and LGBTQ issues (especially where they intersect!), and we've been in production since September, 2012. Our hosts are Jaison Gardner and Dr. Kaila Story.
This program was borne out of some racial tension that was affecting Louisville’s LGBTQ community. The owner of a gay bar in Louisville made some racist remarks online, was called out on it by anti-racist activists, and the result was a pile-on which was hugely polarizing in our community. It also raised questions within WFPL about why we tend to reach out to the same (largely male, white and affluent) folks each time we cover an event in the gay community.
We decided to seek out some lesser-heard and ask them to tell us their stories. The result was our nine-part series, Defining Fairness, which ran that spring. Jaison Gardner was one of those interview subjects. He and Dr. Story had also been guests on another show on our station, State of Affairs, to talk about drag and house ball culture. We felt like the conversation started in Defining Fairness needed to continue, and we loved Jaison and Kaila's rapport and expertise, so Strange Fruit was born.
Our hosts are two queer people of color, who have been close friends for years, so they bring a lot of humor and chemistry to Strange Fruit. Dr. Kaila Story is a professor, Pan-African Studies Graduate Director, and the Audre Lorde Endowed Chair in Race, Gender, Class, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville. While there, she has created new courses in Black Lesbian Lives, Introduction to LGBTQ Studies, Black Feminisms in Action, and Queer Perspectives in Literature and Film. Dr. Story is also one of the co-chairs of the Fairness Campaign’s Coordinating Committee.
Jaison Gardner is has been a social justice activist and community organizer for more than fifteen years, working primarily around issues related to youth empowerment, LGBT rights, people of color issues and women’s liberation. A current member of the Fairness Campaign’s Coordinating Committee, Jaison is also the proud founder of BlkOut, an organization dedicated to empowering black LGBT students on the University of Louisville campus, and Derby City Black Pride, a city-wide celebration of Louisville’s black LGBT and Same Gender Loving community.
We were faced with a steep learning curve when we started, as our hosts had no radio experience, but this turned out to be a good thing; we immediately heard from listeners who appreciated that Strange Fruit sounds nothing like other public radio shows. We cover a broad range of topics, but always with a focus on LGBTQ people of color. While it sounds like a small niche, our listeners who fall outside that demographic tell us they appreciate hearing about issues they had no idea were affecting other people in their community.
Each episode opens with what we call our Juicy Fruit segment, where we talk about some relevant stories that have been in the news or in social media that week. Jaison typically keeps up with current events, and Kaila gives us some more academic analysis of the systemic things at play behind the stories.
After Juicy Fruit, we typically do a feature interview where we speak with someone who has done some relevant work, or an LGBTQ and/or black artist or activist, either local or national. In some circumstances, we may break format and spend an entire hour talking about one subject. The week of the George Zimmerman verdict, for example, and the week of Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, we skipped our Juicy Fruit segment and went straight into reaction and analysis.
In late 2014, we celebrated our 100th episode.
Contact Laura Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 814-6536.