Any Afrofuturists in the building? Anyone in the building wondering what Afrofuturism is?
On this week’s installment of Practically Speaking, we revisit Afrofuturism with artist and educator D. Denenge Akpem. Afrofuturism is a cultural movement that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and Afrocentricity, in order to critique present-day dilemmas of people of color. It also tries to remix and re-examine the historical events of the past.

We also hear from avant-garde musician and composer David Boykin about the new cultural movement.  

Plus, host Audra Wilson profiles visionary Science Fiction author Octavia Butler.

Tune in this Friday at 11am on 89.5fm (NWIndy) and 90.7fm (CHI).

UPDATE: You can hear the entire show here.

As the news editor for Giant Bomb, a video game news and reviews site, Patrick Klepek has received his share of online harassment, from the comments to Twitter to his personal email. But he’s a white dude in a position of influence. What kind of harassment do less established writers and people in the community particularly women and minorities face? Klepek talks to us about his recent work to call attention to toxic conversations online and how to make the Internet a (slightly) nicer place.

Since they started, Chicago’s Empires have been committed to a DIY approach to music. That, and their hard work ethic has nurtured their impressive output of anthemic rock albums. It’s these factors that have been the key to the band’s steady climb to success. In a short time they’ve played at Lollapalooza, and made an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. The band’s new album is called Orphan (out this month). We’re excited to welcome the guys back in our studio to hear some of the new songs and talk about the new release.

Live From Studio 10 airs Tuesdays at 8pm CST on Vocalo 91.1 FM & 90.7 FM (CHI) / 89.5 FM (NWI) and The show features emerging bands and music artists from Chicago and beyond. One hour of music and interview, all live. Hosted by Jesse Menendez, produced by Fyodor Sakhnovski and engineered by Adam Yoffe. Subscribe to the podcast here:

Wu-Tang Clan Swarm Riot Fest

by Griffin Waterman with photos by Jesse Menendez


Going to a Wu-Tang Clan show is always something of a gamble. At a show at the Congress a couple of years ago, RZA and Raekwon were absent, GZA was visibly intoxicated, and half of the other members were phoning it in for much of the set. By contrast, their performance at Coachella last year featured all nine living members and a live band augmenting their beats. They had clearly rehearsed, and everyone seemed to care about what they were doing on stage.



With all of the Clan’s recent infighting, yesterday afternoon’s performance at Riot Fest could have gone either way. It ended up being somewhere in the middle, but closer to the Coachella end of things. Method Man was missing, and GZA was still drunk (or his breath control is basically nonexistent at this point in his career; it was hard to tell), but in every other way the performance was great. Losing the group’s most engaged live performer could have really hurt the show, but RZA worked in overdrive to pick up the slack left by Meth’s absence, and everyone just seemed happy to be on stage together, which is far too rare for late period Wu-Tang.



This set list had few surprises, but no one was complaining about the Clan running through most of their debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), two highlights from Wu-Tang Forever (“Reunited,” and “Triumph”), and selections from their solo albums. Cramming all of those songs into an hour long set forced them to cut some verses from group songs or have solo songs reduced to one verse and a few choruses. Even within these constraints the members made the most of their individual showcases. Cappadonna gave a thundering performance of “Run” from his underrated solo debut The Pillage. U-God busted out some endearingly silly dancing during “Dat’s Gangsta” from his own first solo album. GZA got a whopping three songs from his classic Liquid Swords album. And even though they weirdly didn’t perform anything from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Raekwon dominated the proceedings with an acapella rendition of his closing verse from “Triumph.”



Those few surprises that the Clan did have were mostly amazing. Ghostface, Rae, and Cappadonna put in a great performance of the Ironman deep cut “Fish.” Killah Priest (who almost beat out Masta Killa for the ninth spot in the group’s original lineup) joined Ghostface, RZA, and GZA on Liquid Swords highlight “4th Chamber.” They covered the Beatles’ “Come Together” in the middle of their set, a moment that started out inducing head scratching but quickly turned into a rousing sing along. Even the odd choice of ending their set with just U-God’s verse from “Gravel Pit” couldn’t dampen the mood that the Clan had cultivated over the course of their hour. The group clearly knows what their audience wants, and for the most part that doesn’t include anything made after 2000. The set was fan service at its finest.



Now we just need to hope they can keep getting along long enough to get that new album out.


Every neighborhood in Chicago is as distinct as the voices it produces. Yet, if we look close enough, we’d be surprised to find the similarities between them. In our on-going #Block2Block series, we explore various neighborhoods and the flourishing cultures within them through the voices of musicians living and creating music in those neighborhoods. In this episode, we hear from Macie and Liam of Chicago indie rock band Marrow, who discuss growing up in Mayfair and Old Irving Park, respectively.

The MusicVox airs M-F 6-8 PM CT on 89.5 FM (NWI) / 91.1 FM & 90.7 FM (CHI) /

Produced by Sam Taylor

Ray has been an activist since the 60s. He organized lunch counter sit-ins and participated in the March on Washington. When he was drafted to fight in Vietnam, he took his activism overseas with him. Unlike Ray, Bill enlisted in Vietnam and served 4 years. He now works with veterans in need.
On the next Practically Speaking, we explore the triumphs and challenges of Black veterans, including those who have given their lives for a country that has not always respected them or their contributions.

Listen in this Friday at 11am on | 90.7 (CHI) | 89.5 (NWI).

As the 75th anniversary of the beginning of WWII approaches, Memorial Day has an extra layer of emotion for veterans. Edgar Harrell was one of the few survivors of the USS Indianapolis sinking, torpedoed by Japan in the Pacific Theater just a week before the US bombed Hiroshima. We talk with him about his story and why as insulated as we are from conflict, it is important to remember what life is like during war time.

Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it’s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses. What about Chicago? Here, it’s the modest Two-Flat.
Chris Bentley reported on the history of the Two-Flat for WBEZ’s Curious City. On this installment of the Barber Shop Show, we heard his report. We also talked about the future of the two flat: a 100 year old staple of Chicago architecture.
Host Richard Steele was joined by Chris, along with:
• Geoff Smith of DePaul’s Institute of Housing Studies
• Jennifer Masengarb, of the Chicago Architecture Foundation
• Bryan Hudson, an architect based in Chicago. 1/3 of his clients own old two-flats, and he knows about the variety of uses these buildings serve their owners (and how that has changed over the years).
• Dennis Rodkin, residential real estate reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business

The Barber Shop Show airs on Fridays and Saturdays at Noon on 91.1FM, 90.7FM, and 89.5FM. You can also stream live at The show also broadcasts on Sundays at 3pm on WBEZ.


Friends and foes are invited to our first ever #hatersball, a fundraiser, soul concert and dance party, on Friday, April 11 at Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Avenue. The multi-tiered evening in Chop Shop’s 6,000 square foot party space is both a celebration of the Vocalo community and fun party to cap off the Vocalo pledge drive that takes place the week leading up to the party.

The party starts at 6 p.m. with a Haters Mingle, featuring sets by Jesse De La Peña (host and producer of Vocalo’s Friday Night DJ Series) and Shazam Bangles, craft cocktails by Johnny Costello of the Berkshire Room and food by Chop Shop restaurant and butcher shop.  

At 10 p.m., The K.I.D. featuring JC Brooks performs Love from Chicago and DJ Ayana Contreras (host and producer of Vocalo’s Reclaimed Soul) spins more tunes. 

The Lovers After-Party – a Vocalo DJ Collective dance party with DJ Charlie and Bizzon – gets underway at midnight.

For $50.00 tickets to the entire evening, The Vocalo All Night Pass, go here.


For $25.00 tickets to the 10:00pm performance and After Party, go here.

Tim Mcllrath is the front man of political punk rock group Rise Against. He joined Jesse Menendez on The MusicVox to talk about their 7th studio album The Black Market, and how social justice and activism inform the band’s music. He also treated us to a special acoustic performance of “People Live Here,” and “Hero of War.”

Rise Against perform 9/11 at Aragon Ballroom and 9/12 at Riot Fest.

The MusicVox airs weekdays 4-6 PM on 91.1 FM & 90.7 FM (CHI) / 89.5 FM (NWI) /

Watch on

This video features Denenge Akpem and her Performance Art piece, “8-8-8” (mentioned on last week’s Practically Speaking).

On last week’s Practically Speaking, Denenge Akpem helped us to unpack Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is a cultural movement that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and Afrocentricity, in order to critique present-day dilemmas of people of color.  It also tries to remix and re-examine the historical events of the past.

We also heard from avant-garde musician and composer David Boykin. He expressed his opinions of the new cultural movement.

Plus, host Audra Wilson profiles visionary Science Fiction author Octavia Butler.

Practically Speaking airs fresh installments Fridays at 11am on 89.5fm (NWIndy) and 90.7fm (CHI).

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival kicks off Thursday, September 18 and the AMp invited Deepti D’Cunha, the international film curator and Shalini Trivedi, a festival director, to get the scoop on the best films to catch. Luis Antonio Perez filled in for Brian Babylon today and Molly Adams was glad because Luis is not afraid to indulge a little fawning over a hot dude like Sendhil Ramamurthy.

(Photo is of Roshan Seth and Sendhil Ramamurthy in a still from Brahmin Bulls, screening 6:30 on Saturday, the 20th.)

Reclaimed Soul’s host, Ayana Contreras, wrote about the demolition of St. Laurence’s church on Chicago’s South Side:

There’s a metaphor here, somewhere. Perhaps it’s like watching a sleeping giant. Or a fallen warrior. Watching this building decay slowly has been surreal. Now that slow decay has been quickened.

I had a student a couple of years ago who didn’t really talk a lot. I asked her one day to sum up the toll an abandoned building puts on a block, on a community.

Her words still haunt me: “They are a black hole in the community”. Of course. Every thing dark circulates around them: drugs, crime, strife. Darkness itself is housed within it. Yet, St. Laurence’s still shone bright, especially on sunny, cloudless days. A passerby might almost forget that time was ravaging the building from the inside out. Still, if a building could be proud, despite decay, that building was.

Read more here.

Historian Josh Eisenberg, proprietor of, joined the AMp this morning as he commemorated the lives of important and notable people. 

Professor John Mainstone, who was awarded an “Ig Nobel” prize for the longest running experiment in 2005, died of a stroke on August 23, 2013. The experiment began with Professor Thomas Parnell in 1927 when he filled a sealed glass funnel with liquified pitch and then allowed it to seetle at room temperature for three years. In 1930 he cut off the tiop of that funnel to allow the pitch to drop. Nearly Eight years after he began the expierment, the first drop fell from the funnel and then another drop fell in 1947. Following Professor Parcell’s death in 1948, Professor John Mainstone was handed the responsbility of supervising the experiment. Under his supervision, the experiment had dripped five more times and the most recent was in November 2000. The drip has yet to be seen by a human being. Not even the professors have witnessed them. Mainstone predicted that the next drip would not happen until the end of this year. Mainstone was recognized by Guniess World records and in 2005 he won an “Ig Nobel” prize for this experiment. 

He passed away last weekend on August 23, 2013 at the age of 78. 

Muriel Siebert became the first woman to buy the New York Stock Exchange in 1967 while earning $20,000/day during her time as a research trainee at Bach & Company. She found out that the NYSE constitution had no rule against women joining the Big Board - only requiring a sponser , letter of financial backing from a bank and $445,000 (or $3.1 million now). After nine attempts to find a man to support her and two years to nab a bank letter, her bid nearly became impossible as the NYSE still prohibited her from buying a seat. Finally in December of 1967 she took her seat on the New York City Stock Exchange, becoming the first woman to do so. In addition to this milestone, she fought discrimination in private clubs when she was not allowed to use the elevator by the New York’s Union League. She also challenged the NYSE to put the women’s restroom on the same floor as where she usually ate. She threatened that she would have rented a port-a-potty and place it in the hallway and they finally built the bathroom. 

Siebert passed away last week on August 24th at the age of 80.

Chicago’s Shedd Aquariam lost the oldest living otter this week. Kachemak, found at six weeks washed up on the beaches of Alaska. Kamechack lived 23 1/2 years until she was euthanized on August 26th and is survived by four additional sea otters.

On their new album Southsiders, Atmosphere find themselves in familiar waters. The album has Slug rapping candidly about his relationships, maturity, mortality and more. Slug joined Jesse Menendez on The MusicVox to talk about the new album, how he got into the Hip Hop culture, and what informs his lyricism these days.

The MusicVox airs weekdays 4-6 PM on 90.7 FM (CHI) / 89.5 (NWI) /

When Nelson Mandela came to Chicago in the early 90s, he commented on how segregated the city is, and how it reminded him of apartheid South Africa.

On this installment of Practically Speaking, we explore how Chicago has come to be known as one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. with Lincoln Quillian, assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern University.
We also take a look at the historical West Side vs. South Side divide among Blacks in Chicago. Host Audra Wilson talks to Henrietta Whitaker, who’s lived in Chicago for 40 years. She lives on the South Side, but worked for many years on the West Side.

Photo by John H. White

Tune in to fresh installments Fridays and Saturdays at 11am (CST) on | 89.5FM (NWI) | 90.7FM (Chicago)