What happens when a radio legend and a standup comedian collide? A pretty lighthearted, but in-depth interview.
This is precisely what happened when SiriusXM Urban View host Joe Madison stopped by Pete Dominick’s Stand Up! show last month. The two sat down for an exclusive host-to-host interview where Madison spilled all the details about his past, his friendship with President Obama and the secret to his long-lasting marriage.
Kicking off the interview with praise for each other, Dominick described the Urban View host — aka the Black Eagle — as someone who has built a reputation not only a radio legend who interviews icons, but also as a civil rights legend and an activist who “walks the talk.” How has Madison made his mark in history? He believes it’s all about being original and learning to not mimic what others are doing. “I’ve learned that the success of talk radio, or any radio for that matter, is a word that a lot of people don’t understand, it’s ‘originality,’” Madison said. “That’s what makes you successful, or anyone else who has any history in this business. It’s that you do something that ends up being copied by other personalities.”
Being “original” has pushed him to travel to such places as Sudan, Haiti and Israel to cover important issues, because, as Madison explains, “nobody else did.” It is through breaking the mold and carving out your own path that a host gains credibility and the faith of his or her audience. “When you say something, your audience believes you,” Madison said.
It’s no surprise then that a host of such caliber would score interviews with the president himself. Madison has actually interviewed Obama three times and the first lady two times. Turns out Madison and the president actually go way back to when Obama was just a “skinny little kid” doing voter registration and community organizing in Chicago. Madison recalls the time when they both worked and competed for who would get the most people registered to vote for Project Vote.
“There was this kid called Barack Obama, and we said ‘Who is Barack Obama?’ We thought it was one of these made-up African names that black people would give themselves,” Madison said. “But what we knew about him was he worked hard, he registered the hell out of people, he was a good organizer, he had a hell of a reputation.”
The Urban View host admitted that there is a certain trust between himself and the president because they have similar backgrounds. “Only because we walk the same streets,” Madison said. It is because of their similar pasts that it particularly annoys Madison when conservatives criticize Obama for being a community organizer.
“What really pisses me off now is for the right wing to sit up here and somehow demonize community organizers,” Madison said. “Hell man, King was a community organizer. Andrew Young was a community organizer. How dare you sit up here and try to undervalue the work.”
Bringing Madison’s wife Sherry into the conversation, Dominick asked her how they are able to keep their relationship functioning after 31 years, especially since they also work together on-air on a daily basis. To Sherry, it’s all about figuring out the balance between their work and personal life. “I am able to distinguish between work and home… I can separate things very well. At work, I’m a producer. At home, I’m his wife and friend,” Sherry said. Madison jokingly interjected, “and boss.”
So what issues is Madison particularly passionate about? The Urban View host pointed out that most aren’t aware of the ongoing slave drive happening right now in Southern Sudan that has taken the toll of around three thousand slaves, mostly women and children, over the span of their 25-year war. “I never even knew people were being taken in those large numbers as slaves,” Madison said. “And to walk into a war zone, and see 800 women and children… whose freedom had just been purchased… we paid less for their freedom then folks paid for goats and cows in that country.”
Another important topic that Madison cares about is enlightening the average citizen of what’s occurring in the government in a language everyone can understand. He revealed that it was his father who encouraged him as young boy to put it “where the goats can get it,” in other words to “take it to the root.”
“The biggest challenge is to take all of this Washington speak, all these complicated issues, Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, and break it down so people can understand this stuff,” Madison said. “That’s our challenge, we’ve got to explain these things to people… so that the average person driving in that truck can understand what the hell these politicians are trying to do to us.”
This year Indie Radio’s Pete Dominick interviewed various SiriusXM hosts for an exclusive series on Stand Up! With Pete Dominick. To listen in on more host-to-host interviews check out the below playlist. And stay tuned here for even more exclusive host chats.