BY JEREMY SHERE
For the past seven years, the best way to learn about news and issues affecting Bloomington’s African American community has been to tune in to Bring It On!, a weekly one-hour program airing Monday evenings on WFHB, hosted by Bev Smith and William Hosea.
“Our goal is to foster conversation by challenging commonly held beliefs, pushing people out of their comfort zone, and getting people to dialogue on relevant issues in a respectful way,” says the show’s founding and current producer, Clarence Boone, a veteran WFHB gospel music programmer and director of Diversity Programs at the IU Alumni Association.
Boone first came up with the idea for Bring It On! in 2004. Noting that WFHB had programs devoted to Bloomington’s Hispanic and GLBT communities but none giving voice to the perspectives and concerns of the local African American population, he set out to fill the void. The first episode of Bring It On! aired in late 2005.
“It was an important moment for Bloomington’s African American community to finally have an on-air outlet,” recalls Boone. “Our first guest was Mike Davis [former IU men’s basketball head coach], which was an incredible way to kick off the program.”
Eight years later, Bring It On! is still going strong, featuring interviews with national and local newsmakers, including, over the years, PBS talk show host and author Tavis Smiley, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy. The show also features news and the long-running segment “Dark Past, Bright Future,” focusing on African American history and future possibilities. Other segments take on issues such as employment, health, affordable housing, and fostering positive social change.
For Boone, who graduated from IU in 1981 and has lived in Bloomington on and off ever since, producing the show on a volunteer basis is a labor of love and a source of pride. “I truly believe in the importance of voicing African American concerns,” he says. “And I believe in WFHB, which provides an invaluable service by providing a neutral forum for everyone in Bloomington to express themselves as part of the community.”
Bring It On! airs every Monday at 6 pm on WFHB (93.1/98.1) and can be heard online here.