Nearly 25 years ago, when Tarik Moody graduated from architecture school in Washington D.C., he never predicted he’d be running a music show that is expanding around the nation.
Moody leads the award-winning Rhythm Lab Radio show on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and is the digital director of strategy and innovation at the station.
Since he started Rhythm Lab Radio in 2005, it has grown and is now syndicated in Philadelphia; Chicago; Norfolk, Virginia; and Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina. The show is also expected to be released in two new, undisclosed locations in the coming months.
The show he said is about redefining Urban music.
“You hear hip-hop stations always say [that] they’re number one in the number one hip hop and R&B,” Moody told Madison365. “And they neglect jazz and neglect all the other music that Black people have contributed like house music, and all that. They just played two genres and most people think that’s what Black communities create and that’s it. And I want to show through the show that the influences go way beyond that.”
When Moody is not on-air as a music host from 9 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday or managing digital properties for the radio station, he is creating podcasts such as Diverse Disruptors, which is about people of color in business, tech and entrepreneurship. He is also hosting “This Bites” as a food critic for Milwaukee Magazine or contributing to Edible Milwaukee.
He ran 88Nine Labs which is about connecting youth and adults with technology to make it more accessible and inclusive. He organized fundraisers to combat food insecurities using technology, library presentations, guest speakers and a game-jam where teens can create video games.
Oh, and he is a newly educated Japanese sake brewer. He recently purchased the domain name Yasukesake.com with the hopes of opening his own sake bar. Almost 500 years ago, Yasuke was the first foreign-born Samurai. He was from Africa and his name means “the Black one.”
Nearly every day, people compliment him on how much he can get done in a day.
But Moody said he doesn’t really notice it — he developed a good routine with working on his show Monday through Friday. And added that the routine, and the show, is something that developed over time.
Through those 16 years, he has stayed true to the mission of the show, he said.
His latest two-hour show on Feb. 5 played 29 artists with genres ranging from improvised Jazz from South African; Bokani Dyer, a 16-piece orchestra that was formed in the 1970s; Nottingham Jazz Orchestra; an American rapper, GolkdLink; and a sweet soul band from San Diago called Thee Sacred Souls.
He posts the show to a Mixcloud platform and has 6,000 followers from all over the world. This number doesn’t include the listeners who engage in his show live on the radio.
“Public radio was missing an opportunity, it wasn’t really creating programming for audiences that look like me. In fact, to call yourself a public radio you need to do a better job reflecting the public,” he said.
“Commercial stations that target Black audiences are pretty narrow and they feel like there’s this issue where every Black artist that is doing something that doesn’t fit a Black radio station –they wouldn’t ever get played on the Black radio station. And most of the time they can’t find a fit on the white radio station. That’s been the history of music. And so my show was to kind of address that in a two-hour way.”
His most memorable show was a micro-festival to celebrate the 10-year milestone in 2015.
He broke, or debuted, some of his favorite artists at that show, he said. Those artists include Taylor McFerrin – an electro-jazz musician, producer, composer, pianist, DJ – and also the son of singer Bobby McFerrin, Natalie Prass, The TRUE Skool band and Peanut Butter Wolf
“It was 10 years of creating something really unique, that I built, and built a following and I wanted to celebrate that,” he said.