Celebrating 23 years of Broadway Joe
DJ also trying to make difference in the community.
Photo by Shannon Sturgis
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LITTLE ROCK Twenty-three years is a rather bland anniversary. It's not a round or even number, and it doesn't hold the promise of the future like a two-year anniversary. It's not perky like a four- or eight-year anniversary, and it's certainly not self-aggrandizing like a 10- or 25-year anniversary.
But what it does possess is a launching spot for a bigger anniversary down the road. So consider Broadway Joe's Weekend Celebration, celebrating 23 years at Power 92 Jams as the host of the Broadway Joe Morning Show, 15 years of The Broadway Joe Video Show and Joe's 54th birthday, a live-action warm-up for an even bigger 25th anniversary.
"I do plan on doing it at 25," said Joe “Broadway Joe” Booker, who is also the director of programming for the Citadel station. "I still live by the idea that tomorrow is not promised, but I want a really big 25-year celebration so let's start planning it now."
The "planning" for the 25-year anniversary blast starts Friday night at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Little Rock with an Old School Party followed by a live concert at the hotel on Saturday night. The night of live music features R&B singer Tony Terry, who is known for a string of late '80s and early '90s hits including "Lovey Dovey," "Everlasting Love" and "With You," along with R&B singer John Brown and R&B vocal group H-Town, who scored a No. 1 R&B hit with 1993's "Knockin' Da Boots" to go along with a number of Billboard R&B Top 20 hits.
The Friday night event will also double as a benefit for a cause dear to Joe's heart, the Independent Youth Football League, an eight-team league consisting of central Arkansas youth that plays from July through late November. While some of the eight teams have sponsors, insurance for the league still runs around $400 per team so the hope is admission for Friday night's party will help with insurance expenditures.
"I'd like to make it an annual thing," said Joe of an event to benefit the football league. "One thing that is dear to me is the community stuff. It's a way to let people know about the league."
A native of Kingstree, S.C., Joe entered the Air Force after high school, eventually ending up at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville. Following his Air Force days, Joe was attending Arkansas State University on a basketball scholarship when a knee injury forced him into the public address announcer seat for basketball games, launching his radio career. After starting his first radio job at a station in Lonoke, Joe took a job at the now-defunct KOKY-AM before taking the job with Power 92.
While the musical landscape has changed in the 23 years Joe has been a Power 92 disc jockey, from pioneering hip-hop by Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy and N.W.A., to the modern-day hip-hop of Jay-Z, Joe has remained involved in the local community, especially following a job sojourn with a hip-hop station in his home state of South Carolina in 1995.
"Taking that job was a turning point in my life," Joe said. "I'd lived in Arkansas, but I'd never committed to Arkansas. Being a disc jockey, I'd always been thinking I'd be going somewhere else."
After six months in South Carolina, Joe returned to central Arkansas and became more deeply involved with the community, a mission he continues today. Beyond heading up the Independent Youth Football League and supporting various other local charities, nonprofits and organizations, Joe is also the head of the Power 92 Jammers charity basketball team, taking over the traveling, all-star basketball team five years ago. Last year, the Jammers played 35 games across the state, raising more than $65,000 for local causes in the communities where they played.
"I made a commitment to be here," Joe said. "My actions changed. A lot changed. I dug in and got more involved. I never considered myself to be a mover and a shaker, or what one would consider a part of high society. I had to get into that. I needed to. I just always looked at myself as a regular guy. I guess I didn't have a roadmap for the career thing. Things just happened."
Broadway Joe's Weekend Celebration will be Friday and Saturday at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Little Rock with an Old School Party on Friday night and a live concert Saturday night. The Old School Party will last from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday at the hotel, and tickets are $10 at the door with proceeds benefiting the Independent Youth Football League. Tickets to the concert Saturday night are $20 advance and $30 day of show, with music from Tony Terry, John Brown and H-Town from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.