While many DC residents listen to Kojo Nnamdi’s daily radio show, few likely know the fascinating details of his journey to becoming a WAMU superstar. On Thursday, November 7th at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), Tom Sherwood and Mark Segraves interviewed Nnamdi as part of their program All Politics is Local.
In the cozy Abraham Lincoln Hall at Hill Center, audience members were treated to an intimate look at the experiences that guided Nnamdi to becoming the talk radio host that he is today.
Kojo Nnamdi, a DC resident since the late 1960s, was born Rex Orville Montague Paul in British Guiana. He spent his early childhood listening to the chatter in the rum shop next-door and to neighbors debating politics with his parents. His interest in politics was sparked by the British Guiana’s fight to win its independence from Britain, which was finally achieved in 1966, a year before Nnamdi left for Montreal to attend McGill University.
While at McGill, Nnamdi became fascinated with the Black Power movement, joining the Black Panther Party and moving to New York City to become an activist. Soon after, he moved to DC to attend a black education pro
gram at Federal City College.
It was then that Nnamdi kicked off his radio career as Brother Uwezo on radio station WOL, working on a public affairs program and performing children’s plays. In 1971, Nnamdi changed his name from Rex Orville Montague Paul to Kojo Nnamdi, in honor of the Nigerian President Nnamdi Azikwe.
Nnamdi began hosting the daily radio show Public Interest on WAMU in 1998 and it was renamed The Kojo Nnamdi Show in 2002.
Nnamdi answered questions from the audience to conclude the program. He spoke about “the bright future” of NPR and mused about who he would most like to host on the show right now (Jack Evans) and previously (former Nigerian President Nnamdi Azikwe).
Nnamdi’s interviewers Tom Sherwood and Mark Segraves are both reporters with decades of experience in DC politics. Currently, Tom Sherwood is the “Residential Political Analyst” on Kojo Nnamdi’s Politics Hour and a journalist for the Washington City Paper. Mark Segraves, a longtime Ward 6 resident, is a reporter for NBC4 News and a former writer for The Hill Rag. In their All Politics is Local program at the Hill Center, Sherwood and Segraves delve into the lives of prominent DC figures and learn about their personal journeys.
Last month, they hosted Ward 6 council member Charles Allen. To learn about future programs, visit https://www.hillcenterdc.org.