Columnist Solomon Jones will return to WURD to host morning radio show

Solomon Jones, co-moderator, seated with a sub-panel, during Courageous Conversations: Reimagining Race and Education forum at Enon Tabernacle Church, on Thursday night. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Solomon Jones, co-moderator, seated with a sub-panel, during Courageous Conversations: Reimagining Race and Education forum at Enon Tabernacle Church. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Listeners of Philadelphia radio station WURD will soon hear a familiar voice on weekday mornings.

Columnist and commentator Solomon Jones will return to Pennsylvania’s only independent black-owned radio station as the host of “Wake Up With WURD” starting May 6.

The show’s current host, Dr. Aaron Smith — known as the “Rappin’ Professor” from Temple University — will host a new series of live audio and video broadcasts called “WURD Show On the Go.”

“We are extremely excited to announce these changes at WURD,” Sara Lomax-Reese, WURD President and CEO, said in a press release. “Having both Solomon Jones and Dr. Aaron Smith on the WURD team will allow us to deepen our journalistic coverage and community engagement in ways that will be transformative for the station and the community.”

Jones previously hosted “Wake Up With WURD” for three years. He became an ordained minister and left the show in 2017 to become a mid-morning host at Praise 107.9. Owners at Radio One replaced the gospel station on the air in December 2018 with a new R&B oldies station, Classix 107.9, and Jones’ show, along with the rest of the Praise programming, was reformatted to stream online only.

Jones — who also writes columns and commentaries for WHYY and The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News — said he looks forward to getting back in the host chair at WURD.

“I’m excited to return to WURD because I think it’s important for me to talk to the community over the air every day and really address in substantive ways the issues the black community in particular is facing,” he said.

Those issues, Jones said, include poverty, education, gentrification, and supervised injection sites, places where people could use drugs under medical supervision with the goal of preventing overdose deaths. Jones has been outspoken in his opposition to such sites, in part because of the racial injustices of the “War on Drugs,” which resulted in the mass incarceration of people of color for drug-related offenses.

Jones said morning show listeners should also expect to hear more from younger generations.

“You’ll hear more millennials incorporated into what we do on the show, not just as an add-on, but really infused into the show,” he said.

Jones will join Smith during a special live broadcast around 9 a.m. on May 3 to introduce listeners to WURD’s program changes.

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