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The Rundown Podcast - PM Show Tile

Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news.

The Rundown Podcast - PM Show Tile

Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news.

‘Those fairytales were real’: Ayana Contreras on Black excellence in Chicago

Ayana Contreras is an influential figure in Chicago’s arts, music and history scene. She was an early-career mentor to artists like Chance the Rapper and Noname. She even wrote a book about Black excellence here in Chicago. “Growing up in Chicago and the Chicagoland area and being a Black person, there were so many fairy tales honestly that we heard, but those fairy tales were real,” she said. She’s talking about the likes of musicians Chaka Khan and Mavis Staples, “Ebony” and “Jet” magazine founders John and Eunice Johnson, Uncle Remus founders Gus and Mary Rickette, and so many more. Contreras is an overall culture creator, a prolific DJ, a style-icon in her own right and has been the content director at WBEZ’s sister station Vocalo, a radio station she played a big role in creating. She talks with Rundown podcast host Erin Allen about why Chicago needed an urban alternative public radio station, her career in Chicago’s arts scenes and why afro-optimism is the antidote to afro-pessimism.

Stay in the loop with the Windy City’s biggest news.

   

Ayana Contreras is an influential figure in Chicago’s arts, music and history scene. She was an early-career mentor to artists like Chance the Rapper and Noname. She even wrote a book about Black excellence here in Chicago.

“Growing up in Chicago and the Chicagoland area and being a Black person, there were so many fairy tales honestly that we heard, but those fairy tales were real,” she said.

She’s talking about the likes of musicians Chaka Khan and Mavis Staples, “Ebony” and “Jet” magazine founders John and Eunice Johnson, Uncle Remus founders Gus and Mary Rickette, and so many more. 

Contreras is an overall culture creator, a prolific DJ, a style-icon in her own right and has been the content director at WBEZ’s sister station Vocalo, a radio station she played a big role in creating. She talks with Rundown podcast host Erin Allen about why Chicago needed an urban alternative public radio station, her career in Chicago’s arts scenes and why afro-optimism is the antidote to afro-pessimism.

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We can’t let National Transportation Week pass without revisiting our conversation with Lee Crooks. He’s basically a local celebrity, with a highly-recognizable voice. He’s been announcing stops on the CTA for 25 years. “It does become something of a legacy,” Crooks said. In this episode, he talks to host Erin Allen about trains, legacy and Midwest accents. And yes, we have him do the voice. This episode was originally published on Oct. 18, 2023.