It’s 7:58 a.m., a December Saturday morning at KPRS, an Urban Contemporary radio station in South Kansas City, MO and “Generation Rap” is about to go on-air. The energy in the small production room is vibrant as 21 teenagers from schools across the Greater Kansas City area gather to “speak their minds” for the next hour.
Billed as the longest running teen talk show of its type in the nation, a recent December Generation Rap broadcast commemorated its 30th Anniversary and featured two of the show’s first dignitaries: Carl Boyd, educational consultant, and Generation Rap founder; and Jim “Granddad” Nunley, a health care professional known for providing his on-air weekly “Words of Wisdom.”
Start With an Idea
Boyd shared that “Generation Rap” started when KPRS radio executive Primm Carter-Williams and radio personality Freddie Bell asked him to take “Concerning Learning,” his 1980’s radio show about education topics, and create a show for teenagers.
Boyd, who had worked as an educator in Chicago, originally presented the concept of “Generation Rap” to WBBM-TV in Chicago, when he worked there as a consultant. Boyd said one of the show’s board members responded negatively saying “nobody wants to hear from a group of teenagers, spouting off about things for which they have no knowledge.”
“It occurred to me there has to be an opportunity to hear from some young people because people with a fixed opinion like that have no clue,” Boyd said.
“Generation Rap,” or “G-Rap” for short, started as a call-in radio program and Boyd was the only host. The name was a play on words and did not have anything to do with music,” Boyd said. “I was suggesting that we close the generation gap through discussion or rap, and I just called it “Generation Rap” and it stuck.”
In February 1988, Mori T. Myers, a student at St. Theresa Academy, got together with other Theresa Academy students and presented the idea for a Generation Rap Youth Advisory Council. The Youth Advisory Council held weekly meetings, and monthly forum sessions. Whereas “Generation Rap” was the radio show, Youth Advisory Council members mainly participated in community service and awareness projects.
At its peak, Boyd estimated the Youth Advisory Council had 103 members. Each week, Boyd would invite a few Youth Advisory Council members onto “Generation Rap” to speak about different topics and interview guests.
Great Topics and Guests
Since its very first broadcast on December 12, 1987, “Generation Rap” shows have covered hundreds of topics: from addiction, homelessness, bullying, and suicide, to cultural awareness and special events in Kansas City. The shows have featured interviews with prominent local and national figures such as: Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, Judge Lisa Hardwick, Councilman Jermaine Reed (who also served as a G-Rap host and currently serves as a mentor), Fox Movie critic Shawn Edwards (who served as a mentor), educator Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, and comic Dick Gregory.
“Perhaps the more important people (on the show) were local parents and guardians, exchanging and learning from our young people,” said Boyd.
Some of the show’s alumni have been/or are currently regulars on national television shows:
Devyn Simone, is a regular on MTV’s “Real World, Brooklyn”, and
Contessa Metcalf is on BRAVO’s “Married to Medicine.”
Some other alumni include: business owner Chris Evans, T-Shirt King; civil rights activists Wesley Fields, Southern Leadership Christian Conference; poet Natasha Ria-El Scari;, doctors; lawyers; engineers; and judges.
On air, Boyd often talked lovingly about his wife, whom he called, Wonderful Wanda. She helped out with the Youth Council and often interacted with the “G-Rap” teenagers behind the scenes. Although Boyd does not have any biological children, in many ways he feels connected to the former teenagers of “Generation Rap.” Many of them are like a part of his family.
“When I think about the blessing that Wanda and I had to be in the lives of young people, without anticipating it going in that direction, I feel singularly blessed in a way that I can not count,” he said.
Boyd Hands off to Nunley
In August 1999, the Boyds moved to Arizona after Carl accepted a position with the National School Conference Institute. Nunley, who had been with G-Rap since 1988, took over Boyd’s leadership duties.
Nunley reflected that his involvement with the show really has been about preparing teenagers for adulthood.
“What I subtly do is to prepare them to receive the investments that the world are ready to make in them. That is what you do in the world, you connect ideas.”
Although Boyd and his wife returned to Kansas City in 2010, the G-Rap founder did not attempt to thrust himself back into running the show. Instead, he is happy to accept occasional invitations to speak to the teenagers who are involved.
A Really Big Show
“My responsibility as an observer is to be happy with what they are happy with,” he said. “I often say that when I started ‘Generation Rap,’ I gave teenagers a voice. By the time that Jim “Granddad” Nunley took it over, he gave teenagers a show.”
Currently, the show features 10 to 15 students each Saturday. They sit in the broadcast room, ask questions, and interact with the show’s guests. Each week a student hosts or a co-hosts a planned segment. Students also attend weekly production meetings and are responsible for producing the broadcast. Mentors, who were once hosts with G- Rap, return to help guide the process.
Erika Brice, who was a host on Generation Rap as a Raytown South student from 1995-1998 returned to serve as a mentor after earning her degree in business at Howard University said, “Generation Rap is really a mentoring program and we use radio and media as our means to mentor.”
Currently, “Generation Rap” teens are selected through an application process. The students not only have to complete a general application, they have to submit an essay, two letters of recommendation, as well as an interview with a current mentor.
Paul Salary has been a member of Generation Rap since August 2017 and recently co-hosted the 30th anniversary show. The Lincoln College Prep Academy Senior, who plans to attend Howard University or State University New York after graduation, said the show has given him structure
“It makes me feel like my voice matters, because I don’t feel like I’m heard at school. And it’s the thing people say I’m good at.”
India Williams, former Westport High School student and mass communication graduate from Doane University has served as a Generation Rap mentor for seven years. She said it is important to preserve the shows’ 30 years of precious memories.
“This is 30 years of greatness, 30 years of students of color taking action in their community, 30 years at the oldest Black-owned radio station in the country.
If you are interested in contacting “Generation Rap” or would like more information about the show, becoming a host, or volunteer contact India Williams at email@example.com.