Jay Smooth, Host Of NYC’s Longest-Running Hip-Hop Radio Show, Resigns In Protest

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Jay Smooth, host and DJ of The Underground Railroad, the longest-running Hip-Hop radio program in New York, has announced that he is resigning from his post. The show runs on the non-commercial WBAI-FM station.

Smooth’s resignation is a direct protest of WBAI’s recent hiring of Leonard Lopate, a former show host who was fired last year from NPR affiliate WNYC for “inappropriate conduct.” The reasons for Lopate’s termination include making sexually provocative comments toward female co-workers, and creating an abusive, uncomfortable work environment for all. Smooth, who also has is a respected cultural commentator and music journalist has been on a host and DJ on The Underground Railroad since 1991.

According to a story on Lopate’s hiring by The Columbia Journalism Review, Jay Smooth told his listeners that he was “vehemently opposed” to WBAI’s decision. “If this show is still airing as of Friday, I’m definitely not going back on Friday,” he told the publication. “The question for me is, have we gone past the point that I want to go back at all?”

WBAI has responded to Jay Smooth on social media concerning his resignation, alluding to Smooth’s program not creating enough financial revenue to pull its weight on the station by way of “BAI Buddies,” a program in which listeners can donate money to fund their favorite shows.

Outside of his DJ work, Jay Smooth is a vocal activist and cultural commentator who has blogged at HipHopMusic. He has also written for NPR on the topics of Hip-Hop and Race (and appeared on MSNBC for the same), hosts video blog Ill Doctrine to speak on the issues of politics and social affairs, and most recently teamed up with CrashCourse for a series on Media Literacy.

For those looking to better know the respected figure in Hip-Hop cultural commentary, his 2017 interview with Shawn Setaro at The Cipher (episode #201) is a worthwhile and engaging listen.

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#BonusBeat: A vintage Underground Railroad segment featuring Rappin’ 4-Tay: