Mr. Vince Thompson, a Black Philadelphia journalist known largely for hosting ‘City Council Live’ on Thursdays via 900am-WURD, is having one of the greatest weeks of his journalism career, a career which now spans three decades. A serious newsman with a silly side seen mostly by political insiders, family, friends and select journalists – I’ve been on air many times with Mr. Thompson and it’s always the case that during commercials breaks he serves as a comic relief – Mr. Thompson on Monday traveled through a fast-paced news cycle that, unbeknownst to him at the time, foreshadowed the week ahead.
On Monday, former U.S. Congressman Mr. Chaka Fattah was sentenced to prison for 10 years. And as he was throughout the trial, Mr. Thompson, who on Monday morning in 7am and 8am hour orated news reports to the 900am-WURD listening audience, was at the Federal Courthouse and called into the station during the late morning with the breaking news.
Very shortly thereafter, Mr. Thompson was asked to call into ‘The Roland Martin Show’ – which plays to a national audience and which is syndicated on 900am-WURD on weeknights – to provide live reporting, and, as he was doing his job, Mr. Fattah appeared outside the courtroom doors and took questions from the press, so Mr. Thompson just put his cellphone to Mr. Fattah’s mouth and just like that, breaking news was being heard across the country. That same day, Mr. Thompson also landed an exclusive interview with Mr. David Fattah, the father of the soon-to-be-imprisoned career politician, and appeared on 900am-WURD live in the afternoon to provide a post-trial analysis.
Tuesday morning started early for the fifty year-old lifelong Philadelphian and father of three: he would appear on Mr. Roland Martin’s popular morning show, again to discuss Mr. Fattah, who received one of the longest sentences ever handed out to a once member of Congress.
Then came Wednesday – the day before Mr. Thompson, who was nominated as ‘Best Broadcaster’ by the Pen and Pencil Club, would know the tally of the votes and either accept his award or congratulate his contemporary – and the veteran journalist was watching on ‘Good Day Philadelphia’ Ms. Gloria Allred, who represents 29 of the 50 women accusing Mr. Bill Cosby of misconduct. Ms. Allred, a Philadelphia native, was in town due to a hearing in Montgomery Country to determine whether the dozens of accusers she represents can testify at the comedian’s forthcoming summer trial.
Mr. Thompson was scheduled on Wednesday afternoon to substitute at 900am-WURD for Mr. Nick Taliaferro, and he thought, as he watched the television: I wonder if I could get Gloria Allred on the air? Using the contact information provided on Ms. Allred’s website, Mr. Thompson reached out, and an assistant for the famed attorney reached back with a maybe.
“I went on the air assuming the interview might happen,” Mr. Thompson told Techbook Online Thursday afternoon, hours before he would again host 900am-WURD’s drive-time show.
The A-list interview indeed happened; in fact, Ms. Allred’s call to the radio station came while Mr. Thompson was conducting an interview with U.S. Congressman Mr. Dwight Evans, the Democrat who succeeded Mr. Fattah.
“I was nervous… but I had my notes prepared,” said Mr. Thompson in the exclusive interview with me that extended the hour, adding that the on-air conversation with Ms. Allred, whom he never met, felt surreal.
For as a big deal as the interview was, it wasn’t the biggest Mr. Thompson had conducted in 2016. The grandest of journalism endeavors this year for Mr. Thompson, who started writing in his late teens for a Germantown newspaper, happened at the Democrat and Republican conventions, where he interviewed folks like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Mr. Michael Steele, the former RNC Chairman.
At the end of the day, though his listeners may perceive him as a celebrity or VIP of some kind, Mr. Thompson sees himself as journalist forever hungry for a story and the guy who takes out his grandmother’s trash. Mr. Thompson’s humility, however, doesn’t impact his sense of self worth. In his own words: “If you go into a story not thinking you’re as important as the national outlets, you’re going to lose.”
With Mr. Thompson – who this year hosted more than three dozen episodes of ‘City Council Live,’ which translates into roughly 100 hours of content produced – there’s an evident sense of pride that’s he’s connected to a black owned media outlet, and he uses that, in addition to his hard questions, to command respect for himself and the station.
“WURD is a station that’s well known for its prominence in black communities, and we take our position in the market seriously,” said Mr. Thompson, whose official title there is news contributor.
After Thursday afternoon’s show, which ends at 7pm, Mr. Thompson will head straight to the awards ceremony. There are no nerves in his stomach, as he’s just excited to network with other journalists. To be nominated, said Mr. Thompson, is already a victory.
“I’ve been lucky in my lifetime. If I lose Thursday, it won’t determine my worth as a human being,” Mr. Thompson said.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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Photo Courtesy of the author.