The history and importance of “FAMUNOW!”

FAMU NOW! airs weekly on Sirius XM Channel 142 HBCU.
Photo credit: FAMUNOW!

Since 1867, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University has been a prominent name when referring to historically black colleges and universities, but since the creation of the radio show “FAMU NOW!”, the university has taken the name to an international broadcasting platform.

In 2015, FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Design former dean Professor Ann Kimbrough announced a unique partnership between FAMU and the HBCU Channel 147 on Sirius XM Radio entitled, “FAMUNOW!”

According to Kimbrough, the thirty-minute segment was created as a “Weekly show that provides an insider’s look at Florida A&M University. Students and alumni from FAMU’s SJGC produce, write, and host the show that features conversations about the latest news and features from a Rattler perspective.”

Kimbrough provided an opportunity for SJGC students to establish themselves as professional journalists like many alumni before them, making the creation of “FAMUNOW!” a significant part into FAMU’s history.

Radio personality and FAMU graduate, Jacquell Lawson was asked by Kimbrough to become the very first host for the show. The first episode featured Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum as the first guest. The show also featured live music from FAMU alumni, Ray Quasi Nelson.

“During the time of the creation of the show, FAMU was constantly being portrayed negatively in the media.” Lawson said.

During this time, FAMU was under a major media scrutiny due to frequent staffing changes between university presidents who were viewed as insubordinate leaders, as well as the hazing death of Marching 100 member, Robert Champion.

However, Lawson said, “The purpose of ‘FAMUNOW!’ was to be a 30-minute, weekly informational broadcast that focused on highlights and achievements of Florida A&M University students, alumni, faculty and to show that there were good things going on at FAMU.”

The current hosts of the show are a rotation of four individuals consisting of both alumni and current students. Overall sponsorship has shifted from Kimbrough to the Intermediate Dean of SJGC, Dhyana Ziegler.

Manager of Media Communications, Torrey Ford says, “This is the first and only nationally syndicated online radio show affiliated with FAMU, although it is separate from student media, we make the show’s content strictly positive, catering to the well-being of the school’s image.”

According to Statica, an online statistics, and marketing research company, Sirius XM Radio subscribers have reached 32.74 million subscribers since 2017, providing a platform for FAMU students and alumni to showcase the talent, training and skills the university produces on an international scale.

The whole show is completely programmed by the university, so the lack of student awareness is not necessarily hurting the show, but it is apparent of the gap between students and listeners.     

When asked what they knew about the show, sophomore nursing student, Taylor Williams said, “I heard of that before, but I honestly did not know we [the school] had its own segment on satellite radio. So…why aren't more people talking about this?”

“FAMUNOW!”  has been on the air for nearly three years now but the effects of the undergoing history made by the partnership between THE HBCU channel and FAMU has yet to be set in stone.

th a little extra awareness, “FAMUNOW!” has the potential to last forever.