Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Mean Ole Lion Media, a Washington-based content company led by radio veteran Ken Johnson, has announced a slate of podcasts that it began rolling out last month with more shows set to debut through the first quarter of next year. Mean Ole says it will focus on content targeting the BIPOC – black, Indigenous and people of color – community with shows covering a gamut of categories from beauty, fashion and relationships to health, hospitality, and criminal justice.
“Podcasting still has that new car smell and I love driving them,” said Johnson, who spent three decades working in broadcast radio. “I created my first digital content in 2007 and this venture is the tree from that seed,” he said.
The new podcast media production house officially launched last month with the Umi Says podcast, which is co-produced with Sunseeker Media and ETC Productions. It is hosted by Sheron “Umi” Smith-bey, who is the mother of Grammy-nominated rapper-actor Yasiin Bey, more commonly known as Mos Def. On the show, she sits down with mothers of celebrity children, star athletes and over-achievers to share stories and philosophies about how they nurtured and inspired their children’s excellence.
Among the guests she will have on the first season are Talita Long, mother of actress, Nia Long; Bethann Hardison, mother of actor Kadeem Hardison; Valerie Allen, mother of celebrity hair stylist and artist manager George Fuller; Teresa Caldwell, mother of rapper Shad Moss aka Bow Wow; Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, mother of late rapper Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest; and Thomasina “Honey” Atkins, mother of gospel duo Mary Mary.
Another show that debuted last month is Black Arm of the Law, a series co-produced with Sunseeker Media and Carl Anthony Payne Entertainment. It will be hosted by actor Carl Payne, from the hit TV show, “Martin.” There is also the Move Podcast Magazine, described as a quick-paced magazine style podcast for women. It will be hosted and produced by former “Tom Joyner Morning Show” producer Nikki Woods. There is also Wardrobe Boss, a series hosted by celebrity stylist Eliza Parrilla. Plus Oh That’s Deep Black Women Conversations, hosted by two HBCU college friends, one a marketing executive and the other a physician. And Pregnancy Pearls, a podcast hosted by OBGYN and women’s health advocate Dr. Nicole Lee Plenty.
“I love content, whether it’s a great sweep of music with perfect branding on a radio station, a well-written TV show, an emotionally charged performance on screen or stage, or a great conversation on a podcast,” said Johnson. “I equally love finding fresh voices, and untapped aspects of well-known personalities.”
Johnson has spent more than 30 years in radio, having most recently programmed Cumulus Media urban AC “Radio 103.9” WNBM, licensed to Bronxville in the New York market, from 2017 to 2019. He earlier oversaw urban radio programming for companies including Clear Channel, Cumulus Media, and ABC Radio Networks, and worked at local stations in several markets including Boston, Birmingham, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and parts of the Caribbean.