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E. Reese Hopkins- Bio Radio Personality/Writer/Comedian Queens, N.Y. native E. Reese Hopkins established his career in radio via the scenic route. Upon graduation from New York’s Fordham University in 1991, (UNDER A DIFFERENT NAME) Reese moved from his Queens neighborhood to the East Village in Manhattan to pursue a career in dance and music.

 

Soon, he auditioned and landed a coveted spot on the popular MTV program “Club MTV” with host Downtown Julie Brown. After a two year stint with the MTV show Reese moved on to dance in music videos that included Young MC’s Grammy award winning, “Bust a Move” and LL Cool J’s, “This is How I’m Coming.” With four years under his belt in music videos, in 1995 Reese began to write and produce with his own Hip-Hop group, “Beatmarket” formed with his younger brother and two best friends.

 

The group toured across the US and opened for established Hip-Hop acts that included KRS-One and Digable Planets. Beatmarket later released their independent debut, “Industry Rule #4,080.”

 

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In 1999, the group disbanded amicably and Reese began a career as a logistics consultant (THE COMPANY WAS CALLED, "LOGISTECHS WORLDWIDE" IT WAS BOUGHT BY A CANADIAN CO. CALLED "DYNAMEX" AND SOLD TO A COMPETITOR CALLED "CHOICE LOGISTICS.) for a large New York firm.

 

In 2000 Reese became the news anchor and personality on the Star & Buc Wild Morning Show on New York's Hot 97.1FM. Reese established himself as a credible journalist and co-host tackling news stories with newsmakers, politicians and community leaders alike. Reese’s abilities were ultimately challenged on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 when during a live broadcast, terrorists hijacked four (4) commuter airliners crashing two into the World Trade Center Towers one mile south of the broadcast studio in New York City.

 

Reese was trusted into covering the events as they unfolded. The station soon recognized him as the lead news correspondent for the station. A title never again held at the station.

 

With the growing popularity of the Morning Show, Reese was soon featured in articles in the New York Daily News and The Washington Post, the nationally televised, Extra, CNN, MSNBC and as a panelist on The John Walsh Show (America’s Most Wanted) and BET Tonight with Ed Gordon. In October of 2005, Reese left the Star & Buc Wild Show to pursue other interest and possibly his own show in a talk oriented format.

 

Reese has produced shows on Howard Stern's, Howard 100 station on Sirius and freelanced for established variety programming like MAD TV and SNL.

 

Reese Hopkins and Daniel Sunjata
Reese and Daniel Sunjata

Reese Hopkins WRKO

He's not your typical conservative talk host - and that may make him worth a listen

By Joseph P. Kahn -- Globe Staff

Debuting on his new WRKO-AM talk show last month, Reese Hopkins wasted little time poking a stick into the beehive of Bay State politics.

In his first day on the air, Reese Hopkins declared "war" on Governor Deval Patrick, went after Mayor Thomas Menino and City Councilor Chuck Turner for their handling of the snowstorm that paralyzed Boston, and declared his support for Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential race - after splicing Mitt Romney's voice into a comedy bit he called "Cry for the Negro."

Reese Hopkins is comfortable labeling himself a conservative, and finding another right-tilting host in RKO's lineup was hardly a shock. He's followed in his 10 a.m.-to-noon slot by Rush Limbaugh and Howie Carr, after all. But identifying Hopkins by the on-air company he keeps can be misleading.

A Reagan Republican, he's also a Jewish African-American who once danced in hip-hop videos and who was managing a New Jersey tile warehouse when the station brought him to Boston.

The Jewish Advocate, founded in 1902, is the oldest continually-circulated Jewish newspaper in the United States.

The Jewish Advocate, founded in 1902, is the oldest continually-circulated Jewish newspaper in the United States.

Reese Hopkins, 38, has promised WRKO (680) listeners his own life will be an "open book." Whether that book sells locally remains to be seen, but it's definitely different from anything else on the market.

"I'm not a celebrity, just an average guy," Reese Hopkins says during an interview following a recent broadcast. "Too many people in this business lost their jobs by forgetting who their listeners are. Trying to reinvent the wheel is not what I do."

Confounding stereotypes is a different story. In New York, where Hopkins worked in radio from 2001 to 2005, he billed himself as The Crossover Negro and praised mainstream media personalities like Al Roker and Bryant Gumbel at the expense of the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Reese Hopkins sympathized with store looters rather than the cops trying to arrest them. After CBS fired Don Imus for his racially charged remarks about a women's college basketball team, Hopkins was furious - not at Imus but at CBS and Sharpton for making too much of a verbal gaffe he calls "irrelevant."

"It's not about a black guy disrespecting other blacks on air," Reese Hopkins says of his Crossover Negro persona, which he's since dropped. "I'm not a self-hater. I just wanted to talk about aspects of the culture I didn't like." Listeners would rip him, he adds, "because, one, I didn't sound black, and two, I idolized Ronald Reagan. If anything, that just toughened me, though."

Tumultuous beginnings

Reese Hopkins spices his radio monologues with references to just how tough he's become. How he got that way confounds stereotypes, too.

A native of Queens, N.Y., Reese Hopkins says he grew up in a single-parent household with an abusive mother who threw him out when he was 15. (On air, Reese Hopkins has graphically described the beatings he says he received.) For three years, until he graduated from high school and went to Fordham University, Hopkins was homeless and sleeping in an apartment building stairwell. At Fordham, he and a group of friends created their own mock radio show, yet it wasn't until 1999 that Hopkins converted his passion for edgy radio into a paying gig and a modicum of fame.

In the interim, he'd danced on the "Club MTV" show and in rap videos, eventually putting together his own group, Beatmarket, that toured from 1995 to 1999. By 1992, Reese Hopkins was married and had a son. Three years later, his wife left him, taking their child with her. It would be another 10 years before Reese Hopkins reunited with his son, who is now 15 and living at Hopkins's home in New Jersey. Remarried, Hopkins also has two stepchildren, ages 15 and 10.

Following the breakup of his first marriage, Hopkins says, he decided it was time to get "a legitimate job." Answering the phone for a warehouse-management company was the first of many such jobs he's taken to support himself. Others have included car-service dispatcher, security guard, and airport porter. By 2000, he says, "I'd already adopted my Crossover Negro character, which was basically a statement that I was not some hip-hop bum."

Radio entered the picture later that year, when Hopkins faxed a couple of fake-news bits to the "Star & Buc Wild Morning Show," then airing on FM stations WQHT and WWPR. The bits got read on air, and Hopkins was subsequently invited to join the cast. He debuted in April 2001. Five months later he was broadcasting from the show's studio in Lower Manhattan when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Reese Hopkins was staring at the twin towers when the second airplane hit.

"I'm claustrophobic and a hypochondriac, so I was like mumbling and hyperventilating at the same time," he remembers. Thrust into the role of news correspondent, he found he liked it and began paying more attention to politics and current events - and less to the musical interludes (50 Cent, Kanye West) that carried the show. In 2005, he suddenly resigned from "Star & Buc" and stayed out of radio for what became a two-year hiatus.

"It was time to make my own moves, to become Reese again," he says.

Leaving the warehouse

Settling in Fort Lee, N.J., with his new family, Hopkins managed a tile warehouse while producing shows for one of Howard Stern's satellite radio channels. Then, in October, he got a call from an old friend, 'RKO sales manager Jim Capuano, asking if he'd be interested in auditioning for a radio job in Boston.

Reese Hopkins tried out for two days in the slot previously occupied by Todd Feinburg. By winning the job, Hopkins became the only African-American in the full-time lineup of either 'RKO or WBZ-AM, Boston's two leading nonsports AM talk stations.

According to Jason Wolfe, vice president of programming for Entercom Boston, which owns WRKO and WEEI-AM, race and diversity were nonfactors in choosing Hopkins, notwithstanding the fact that Wolfe has fielded complaints in the past about who commands the mike at his stations. In 2003, for instance, 'EEI morning hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended for two weeks after making racially charged comments. Community leaders were upset, many demanding that Dennis and Callahan be fired. (They were not.)

"At the end of the day, it's who sounds and fits best in the time slot," says Wolfe, who ran focus groups to gauge listener reaction to Hopkins. "Reese's personality is different from anyone else on the air, so we felt it was worth taking a shot on him."

As for Reese Hopkins not being very familiar with Boston and its leading players, Wolfe says he's unconcerned. "He's not from here, but he's not pretending to be. The important thing now is for him to get out in the community and become acclimated to it, and the audience to him."

With the latest ratings-measurement period starting on Monday, Wolfe says it's too early to tell how successful Hopkins has been at attracting listeners, new or old.

Reese Hopkins agrees he's better off not pretending to know the city any better than he does.

"The big thing is, don't lie," he says. "If you're not from here, tell them - so they look at you as a guy who's here now."

A regular feature of his new show is something Hopkins calls Therapy Thursday, in which host and listeners vent about personal issues. Cross Dr. Phil with Howard Beale, the mad-as-hell broadcaster in "Network," and you get an idea of how Hopkins operates.

"Radio is not about how far you can cross the line," he says. "The day of the shock jock is dead. Now it's about what you can do that's compelling without being offensive."

Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at jkahn@globe.com.

 

 
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