Thursday, January 14, 2021

Stay In! And Listen to the Dulcet Tones of Kojo Nnamdi

The Kojo Nnamdi Show
by Peggy Robin

You may have heard the news that a DC Local Treasure, Kojo Nnamdi, is retiring from his day job as host of the Kojo Nnamdi Show (weekdays, noon to 1 PM on WAMU). If that was the bad news, here’s the good news: He’s keeping his Friday job as co-host of the Politics Hour with Tom Sherwood.

At age 76 and after 23 years of the show, Kojo’s earned his retirement, and I’m just glad to have him continue with his once-a-week gig focused on local politics (his true wheelhouse).

I have to admit, however, it’s not so much his mastery of the subject matter, or his skill as an interviewer that makes me glad he’ll still be on the radio on Fridays. It’s his voice. That silky, smooth, mellifluous voice.

I know I’m not alone when I say how much I loooove Kojo’s voice. (If you’re not familiar with it, have a quick listen: It’s the most comforting sound. I wish I could create a white noise machine that played it softly in the background all night. I especially admire the way he stretches the “I” in a word like “commun – eee -cation”. I would rank Kojo's distinctive sound as the second-greatest voice* on the airwaves today.

But sound aside, the real spark to the show is its host's genuine interest in what his guests are saying. He is never dismissive or disrespectful but treats each person with dignity he or she deserves. That's not to say he'll get bulldozed by anyone. If you've ever heard a caller ramble on and on, not making much sense, you know at some point Kojo will break in and gently ask, "Do you have a question?” He does know when someone needs to be cut off. 

Kojo has always taken on the stuff you might think is too boring for radio: traffic planning, ANC elections, zoning – that kind of thing. But when he’s really engaged in a subject, he can make the mundane seem fascinating. Then he also does lots of shows about off-beat, quirky things that you’re very glad to learn about. Like bee keeping, or some unfamiliar ethnic cuisine, or people who train service animals. And of course, let’s not forget his Tech Tuesdays, which made tech accessible to the digitally-challenged.

If you’re not a long-time listener and you’re worried you’ve missed out, you may be glad to hear you’ve still got a bit of time left to become a Kojo fan. He’s not leaving his regular weekday show until April 21. And even after that, we’ll always have his podcasts!


* In case you are wondering what voice I think deserves the award for “Greatest Voice On Radio Today) [the GVORT!], the answer is Roman Mars, (, the host of the podcast 99% invisible, about design in everyday life.  Here’s an episode that gives you both a full appreciation of his beautifully modulated voice and tells you everything you never knew about the design of public toilets: (you might want to fast forward through the two commercials at the start).
The "Stay In!" column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

1 comment:

  1. I will greatly miss Kojo and hope the folks at WAMU do an amazing job at picking his – well I can’t say ‘replacement’ – maybe substitute? I don’t generally think they did a great job on the new host of 1A the 10 am to noon show so fingers crossed.