#BacktotheBronx brings New York City perspective to Lawrence

This term, Lawrence has gained a powerful new voice on WLFM with “#BacktotheBronx.” Juniors Andre Augustine, Brienne Colston and Jazmin Astwood-Padilla are bringing a taste of their home borough to students while opening up dialogues about complicated and important topics like race and sexuality. “I saw WLFM as a platform that wasn’t really being used,” said Augustine. “I thought it would be fun to talk about different things that are happening on campus, and we’re friends so we always talk about different issues and funny stuff that happens all the time.”

But getting the show off the ground was still a challenge. “We were constantly harassing Andre, like, ‘Did you send the email, did you get the email!’” Astwood-Padilla joked. But once the show got off the ground, the trio was pleased to find that “It’s been a joy ride, honestly. We’ve garnered so much support from the broader campus, we have a Facebook page and it’s become this thing that people use as a study break, they tune in with their friends,” said Astwood-Padilla. Augustine added another benefit for the three, stating, “Because it’s an online platform, people from New York, where we’re from, get to tune in and listen, too. That’s also been great, to have [friends from the Bronx] being able to learn about what happens here at Lawrence and get that perspective.”

And the three aren’t just exposing their hometown to life at Lawrence, but are attempting to bring some of the Bronx to the Midwest. They have one segment, done by Colston, called the “#BacktotheBronx dictionary.” “It started because we realized that Brienne, our co-host, likes to make up a lot of words,” Augustine elaborated. “Or she uses words that are not common in the Midwest, but are very common on the east coast,” Astwood-Padilla continued. “So we always have a section where we really break those down and Brienne has to, like, define the words. We have a whole list of words that she uses that a lot of people don’t know.” In addition, the co-hosts always reserve time at the end of the hour for people to call in, do shout-outs and generally get their listeners more involved.

The inclusion of this latter segment goes back to the overall goal the three have for their show. Augustine explained that the ongoing mission is “to try to address issues that really [aren’t] talked about on campus and to use that platform to really talk about those issues and get in-depth. Also, to get other people’s perspective on [these issues] by using the Facebook page and people calling in just to talk about these different things. Really, it’s addressing issues like race and sexuality and all that type of stuff that happens on campus.”

The highlight for the show that Astwood-Padilla and Augustine immediately agreed on was their interview with LUCC President-elect Jack Canfield, an interview that reinforced their overall goal. Augustine explained further why this segment stood out, saying, “I feel like a lot of people didn’t know a lot about Jack and they didn’t really know what his views were or his goals as president. It gave him a chance to really answer some of our questions about diversity and such from us and the people on the Facebook page. I think that [we] and a lot of people were able to get a sense of who he was as a person and how he’s going to be as a president.” Astwood-Padilla concurred, elaborating, “Now people know him, it’s not just this perception of someone you have because they’re an athlete, or you know they’re in the Con and they’re a science major. Now they have a more in-depth view to him and what he stands for.”

When asked who they would like to have on their show next, the two agreed they would love to have a similarly open and honest dialogue with President Burstein. In addition, Augustine is organizing a panel to discuss men of color on campus, and the three hosts are planning a “Bronx day.” The goal, Astwood explained, would be “to get all the Lawrence students that are from the Bronx on our show at one time. We know a lot of them, but getting them all there would be amazing.”

With lots to look forward to in the coming term, a commitment to remaining honest and true to themselves, and an emphasis on getting listeners to “join the conversation,” as Augustine put it, this certainly won’t be the last you hear about “#BacktotheBronx.” To get involved and learn more, tune in Mondays from 11 p.m. to midnight, or go to Facebook.com/backtothebronx.