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All That Jazz

By day, Dennis Stewart is the CEO of Partnership in Youth, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth. By night, the 1969 graduate transforms into a radio disc jockey for WCSU (88.9FM). And that’s when things get cool, real cool.

Stewart is one half of the “Kool and Hot” jazz show that airs every Friday night on Central State University’s radio station in Wilberforce, Ohio. While he’s the “kool” element of the show— spinning classics the likes of Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye—his co-host, Ernest Lee, plays the “hot” new sounds such as neo-soul, pop music that has roots in Motown and urban rhythm and blues formats.

“It’s a show that crosses generations and cultures,” says Stewart. “Here I am, a Catholic white guy in his 50s, and my co-host is an African-American student who’s Islamic. The show’s theme is to use music as a format to discuss differences and similarities across age and race.”

Diversity also plays a role in his job at Partnership in Youth. “We have Catholics, Baptists, Muslims and Buddhists. Although all of these staff members have their own beliefs, the common values of forgiveness, nonjudgment, humility, hope and faith are powerful tools for change. Since the youth and families that we work with are very diverse, it is important that our staff and board have diversity of culture and backgrounds.”

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