B-Ray: Flint’s local DJ and community activist

In the summer of 2020, the city of Flint created an advisory task force to bridge gaps between the community and law enforcement. Flintside is regularly talking to members of the task force to share their reasons for joining and what they hope to accomplish. Other task force member profiles: Jeffrey Hawkins | Debra Furr-Holden | Mario Booker | Ralph Arellano | Estephanie Ward

 

FLINT, Michigan -- As a disc jockey on one of Flint’s most popular radio stations, Club 93.7, Brandan “B-Ray” Jamison is already a well-known figure in the local community. But he’s using his status and position in the area to give back.

 

Born and raised in the city, B-Ray has been in the public eye playing Hip Hop and Top 40 music on Club 93.7 for more than a decade.

 

“My mama had a pretty big litter, and I’m the only one out of all my brothers— except for my youngest— that didn’t go to jail, so I grew up in the thick of it in Flint,” he said. “I got smart along the way, and realized my career was more important.

 

“Radio fell into my lap as a backburner. I originally had aspirations to get into TV. I was going to Mott Community College and was studying under [long-time local ABC 12 and NBC 25 anchor] Joel Feick. Combined with other things I was doing outside of college, I just wanted to go in another direction. TV felt too constrained, and radio gave me more creativity and wiggle room to express myself. I got into Club during an internship about 12 years ago and I’ve just been grinding it out ever since.”

 

A staple of B-Ray’s tenure at Club 93.7 was the introduction of a segment on his show called 81-Show, where he plays only local music. Not only does he give these artists airtime, but he occasionally has them on his show. He also helps them network, connecting musicians with local event promoters or people in the music industry. According to B-Ray, COVID-19 complications have prevented the show from having guests throughout 2020 and early 2021, but even so, he’s had artists like Jon Connor-- who was on XXL Magazine’s Freshman List in 2014-- and YN Jay, who is gaining radio popularity due to his popularity on the popular social media app, TikTok, on the show.

 

“The more I’ve been stepping into this position, the more I realize I’m a direct reflection of the city of Flint compared to the other guys that have been here before me,” Jamison said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve had a personality from the city who came from the mud in some urban area. I’ve run around, I’ve been in fights and I got shot at. Before B-Ray was an on-air personality, I was a troubled kid. I was a representation of the troubled youth here, but I smartened up and found the right path; I had a goal to make my life more important than what it was. I’m glad I did, because I see my friends that went down that same path and I see where they’re at now.

 

“In this position, I’m a legit Flintstoner. I come up off of Greenway [Avenue], a poverty-stricken area, off of Forest Hill by Civic Park. I’ve gone to school wearing the same clothes as last year. I’m really from there, and not many jocks can say that. It was almost a culture shock when I got in there, because they didn’t understand Flint. Like, OK, you understand Grand Blanc and Fenton, but nobody understood the heart and grit of Flint like I did. I don’t carry it like that, but if you’re from there it’s inside you, and I can speak the language.”

 

B-Ray’s popularity has not gone unnoticed. As a result of his successes hosting his own show at night, he was recently added to the morning slot, taking on more of a conversational role as opposed to his night show slot (which he still maintains).

 

“I felt like with the style that I bring, I had more of an opportunity to be more of a comedian on radio than TV,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of Joe Rogan’s podcast since day one. If anything I kind of emulated Joe Rogan because his career is something I wanted to embody, and radio was giving me that. That’s what made me wanna stick to it. My style on air is very blunt. I would consider myself entertaining with a sprinkle of a--hole-ness on it … The morning show I have to have more of a generic and open mindset when I’m delivering content. More of a monologue style. I take influences from Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and late night guys like that, in order to make local info palatable to basic listeners so they're not bored to death. I try to give people something positive to listen to, and hopefully something to laugh at.”

 

B-Ray is beyond your run-of-the-mill radio host, though, and maybe it’s because of his community-oriented actions. Most notably, he is on the Community Advisory Task Force to the Flint Police Department. The department, which consists of preachers, doctors, activists, and other community members, was created in August of 2020 by Mayor Sheldon Neeley in response to protests against racist policing around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s and Brianna Taylor’s deaths at the hands of law enforcement in the spring of the same year.

 

“Believe it or not, Flint is way more diverse than people think, so we do our best to highlight that,” said B-Ray, noting a possible lack of perspective in the local government and steps needed to improve community discourse. “We want to be the mouthpiece for the city, and we can go directly to the source. We can bring it to the Mayor’s office so we can discuss it. It seems like there’s a huge line of disconnect between the people and the Mayor for whatever reason. We’re going to be using different social mediums to reach out to everybody, adapting constantly to help provide the dialogue.”

 

Jamison is also involved in initiatives that provide voices and funding to Flint’s city center, as well as food drives and community outreach programs to help support and uplift impoverished or underprivileged areas in the city.

 

“I try to do my best to give people a platform to speak about things going on in the community where they otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity,” he said. “I worked a lot with countless people in the UAW, dropping off food and coordinating food drop-offs. We married the 81-Show along with [Hurley Children’s Hospital] Children’s Miracle Network in the middle of 2020 in order to raise money. I want to make sure attention is completely drawn to who or what’s going on.

 

“We’re still in the middle of developing [the Community Advisory Task Force], trying to get more people with influence in the area to help develop our ideas. I want to start putting together grant programs for adolescents and out of work people in the area. There are lots of schools in the area that can help out with aspects of training for skilled labor.”

 

The task force may be in its infancy, but they’re already making moves to connect influential people to ground-level problems in the city. While the group has its roots as a response to simmering tension between police and minorities across the United States, B-Ray has big plans for the future.

 

“In the future, you’ll be able to see a highlight of what’s been plaguing people in Flint, and they’ll have a direct line to us,” said B-Ray. “Ideally I’d like to get these schools back up and going. At least find some grant money to get these schools re-operational and get these areas so they’re livable for Flint residents. We need to stimulate the local housing here and re-stimulate the local schools here, because it’s atrocious.”

Read more articles by Jameson Draper.

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