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How are musicians in the D.C. area finding ways to meet, rehearse and perform at a time when housing costs are skyrocketing and venues are evolving? Kojo gets a check up on the health of the area’s musical ecosystem – and how the city’s economic trajectory is affecting the city’s ability to sustain vibrant scenes for a variety of musical genres.
- Ally Schweitzer Editor, WAMU 88.5's Bandwidth
- Chris Richards Pop Music Critic, The Washington Post
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe music created in the Washington, D.C. area, whether it's Punk or Go-Go or Jazz, is not created in a vacuum. The same skyrocketing real estate prices pinching families and businesses across the region, have an equally huge impact on where local musicians here can get together to craft their art and where they can share it with audiences. Many artists are banding together in creative ways to sidestep those challenges and they're fueling a creative renaissance in the D.C. area.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut even with more venues and hungry local audiences, many artists still find it necessary to leave the D.C. area behind for things they feel this town does not offer. And that's why this hour we're checking up on the health of the D.C. area's musical ecosystem with Chris Richards, Pop Music Critic at The Washington Post. Chris is also a musician. Good to see you again, Chris.
MR. CHRIS RICHARDSHey, thanks.
NNAMDIAnd Ally Schweitzer is the editor of WAMU 88.5's Digital Music Project, Bandwidth. Well, good to see you, Ally.
MS. ALLY SCHWEITZERThank you.
NNAMDIBut I do see Ally every day. 800-433-8850 is the number to call if you have questions or comments. What do you think are the ingredients for a healthy, local music scene? 800-433-8850. And, Chris, in many ways, your life is a product of this area's musical scene.
NNAMDIYou came up playing in bands here. You're experience in (unintelligible) allowed you to share music. You wrote here all around the world. You're not wearing two hats, one as a musician, two as a journalist covering the scene for The Washington Post. Before we dive into assessing the health of the D.C. scene, what would you say is necessary for a musical ecosystem in any area to be a healthy one?
RICHARDSThat's a great question and I think you need to things and they're very simple. You need a place where you can make music and you need a place where you can perform that music and share it with people. And with the changes that we've seen in Washington, D.C. over the past decade, this dramatic growth, those forces have had a tremendous force on musicians playing in any genre, whether, you know, in very different ones as well.
RICHARDSI think if you're in a group that plays loud, amplified live music, in a band, it's hard to find a place to rehearse where, you know, your neighbors aren't going to kick you out or even -- and if you're going to try and find a rehearsal place that's soundproof, that cost a lot of money. But if you're a DJ, you know, all you need to do is hook up your turntables and plug in a pair of headphones.
RICHARDSSo we've seen a real rise in dance music in D.C. in the past 10 years while a lot of, like, the more live groups are struggling to find places to rehearse and write music.
NNAMDIIs it too simple to say that to the extent that there are problems that the heart of the matter is that, well, the rent is too damn high? The rent is high in New York, too, but musicians are always going to want to go there.
RICHARDSThat's true. And the thing that I've heard -- the answer to that is, well, if I'm going to pay New York rent, I might as well live in New York City where there are more resources for me, there are more videographers who can shoot a music video, more recording studios that can create a higher quality recording, you know, whether -- not to say that you can't make a high quality recording here in Washington, D.C., of course you can.
RICHARDSBut I think people -- yeah, when they look at that rent check that they're sending every month, they have to do the math and figure out what does the city offer them and could Los Angeles do better? Could New York do better? Could Philadelphia do better?
NNAMDI800-433-8850. How do you see real estate prices affecting the art and music made by people inside Washington, D.C. You can also send email to email@example.com, @allywamu885 launched its new Bandwidth project this February because the musical scene here is vibrant enough to sustain it and that it warrants dedicated coverage and storytelling. What are you trying to accomplish at Bandwidth?
SCHWEITZERWell, what's amazing to me about the music scene in D.C., what Chris was just talking about in these rising rent costs and so forth, they have this amazing, amazing effect on local musicians in that it prevents them from really being able to perform music professionally full-time. But on the other hand, I'm constantly amazed by how resilient the music scene has been. And a lot of that is driven by a lot of these new people coming into the city, especially young people who might have just graduated from college.
SCHWEITZERThey're willing to kind of live the sort of ramshackle lifestyles for a few years right outside of college where they're okay with, you know, living in a group house with six other people.
NNAMDIDelivering my pizza.
SCHWEITZERExactly, right? And there is an expiration date on that, which is why I think we see the scene kind of recycle or sort of change every maybe five to seven years. Now, I'm seeing -- I've moved here in 2007. I'm from the D.C. area. I moved here in 2007 to live in D.C. full-time. Even in the seven years that I've lived here, the scene has changed dramatically. All the bands that I'm noticing now are really young.
SCHWEITZERThey start a new band one day and the next week they have two other side projects for that band. I mean, it's amazing how fast and furious they're coming despite the rise in cost of living.
NNAMDIHow would you assess the health of the area's musical ecosystem? You seem to be suggesting that it has a fairly rapid turnover.
SCHWEITZERIt does. I mean, the conventional wisdom about D.C., especially among musicians who are in their 20s is that it's somewhat of a seven-year city. You tend to leave after you start to get tired of living in a group house, starting to get tired of your band not really going anywhere, right? Playing local shows. Playing at Fort Reno is great, but if that's all you're doing, you know, after five to seven years, of course you want to move to New York.
SCHWEITZERThat being said, there's been an explosion in venues, right? In U-Street alone, I think it's been something like five venues in the last five years or so have opened up. I mean, that's U-Street alone. So there are all these opportunities. But so many musicians are, you know, if they can't get into that -- they can't necessarily break into those ranks, you know, they're getting tired and (unintelligible) leaving.
NNAMDIChris, let's make it personal. Let's go back to the issue of recent economic boom that's making neighborhoods more expensive for people who want to pay rent or businesses that want to stay open. When you were coming up as a musician here not that long ago, how did you and your band mates negotiate these challenges of finding places to live and places to rehearse?
RICHARDSWe are really lending church and stage here for me, Kojo, but we'll go ahead and do it.
RICHARDSYou know, I played Punk rock all through my late teenage years and half of my 20s and the cost of living was cheaper. You could live in a group house in Silver Spring that had a basement and I think my rent was maybe $200 a month, $200 a month in Washington, D.C. area.
RICHARDSThis is before Silver Sprung took place up in that neighborhood and...
RICHARDS...and it was just more affordable. And that's how we could swing it. You could afford to be away on tour. But in some ways, I think the struggle is still eternal. It wasn't like, you know, we were going on tour and coming back with tons of cash and living a wonderful life and saving money for our children's college educations in any sense.
RICHARDSYou know, I always think music is a struggle. That's just part of living in America. In a way, I think, our culture really views a life in the arts as a privilege in a sense and not really a necessity. And, you know, you see things are so differently run in Canada where there's all these different artist grants. And we talked to a Rock band from Canada who rolls up to town with this amazing tour van and you think, how did you guys afford this.
RICHARDSWell, they got a grant from the national government. That's not happening in the United States anytime soon, I don't think, because we have a society of people who are just willing to get up and make sacrifices, the sacrifices that Ally is talking about. You know...
NNAMDIGlad you mentioned sacrifices because that's what Seth in Fairfax, VA wants to talk about. Seth, you're on the air, go ahead please.
SETHThank you, Kojo. Thank you very much. So I'm a local D.C. actor. I live in Fairfax, VA. That's how I afford rent. And I've noticed a few parallels between the acting scene and the music scene going on. There is a lot of theater companies in D.C. that are having to, you know, make sacrifices financially to find venues to play, which is kind of sort of what you guys has been talking about a little bit.
SETHAnd I guess my opinion on that, as an actor, is stick to your guns because, you know, there's always gonna to be a consumer for music, there's always going to be a consumer for theater. And if you've got the passion, stick to it. It's very easy to get discouraged, especially in a town like Washington, D.C. But I'll tell you, my experiences have led me to believe that New York is even harder to make it.
NNAMDIWhat about that, Chris?
RICHARDSWell, I -- just speaking to that scene, I, I do not know but in terms of music, I think, yes, it can be a mixed (word?) . You can be another band that washes up on the shores of New York City and trying to make your way. It's very difficult to stand out. I thing, the one advantage of being part of this city is it is easy to get -- not easy but your -- it's -- you have the ability to make a splash. You have an ability to be unique. You have an ability to stand out here, in Washington 'cause there might be less going on then in New York or Los Angeles.
SCHWEITZERCan I just say something about the acting bit -- because when I was at City Paper, we -- I did a short piece about whether actors can actually make a living as actors in D.C. And the answer was yes, as long as you're not just acting. You basically (laugh) have to do a lot of things. And I'm sure this is the same for musicians. You have to do a lot of things that might be related to your craft but aren't actually your craft. So if you're an actor, for example, you might do a lot of voice-over work, you might do technical videos where you're demonstrating to people who've just bought large equipment for their company, how to use that equipment.
SCHWEITZERI mean, it's that kind of weird stuff that's not actually on stage but you can employ your acting ability to do it. I've -- I feel like a lot of musicians in the D.C. area are doing very similar things. They get into music education, they do, you know, some are guitar instructors, for example. They lead summer camps, things that are related to music but aren't actually their music.
NNAMDIBut the other thing that's still happening here that you've been writing about is, there are few pieces on Bandwidth about the vibrant house show scenes in Washington.
NNAMDIPeople are literally turning homes into DIY venues in D.C.'s neighborhoods, like Edgewood, Eckington. How and why did this house scene emerge?
SCHWEITZERThis is a longstanding tradition in D.C., particularly in Punk. I mean, D.C. has been known as a house venue city for a long time. And, I mean, from Speakeasy's in peoples houses to, you know, people just having Punk shows in their basements. And now I'm seeing it happen among genres of music that traditionally don't really do that. I'm seeing it more in Hip-Hop. There's a group, locally, called Bombay Knox, it puts on house shows that are Hip-Hop.
SCHWEITZERThis is something that a lot of people think of as being a Punk thing but that's not true. I mean, you see people in cross-genres of doing the same thing. And it's because this is the way that music thrives in D.C. The underground scene is really the heart of the D.C. scene.
NNAMDIYou know about the Speakeasy. Say nothing. Say nothing about me.
SCHWEITZERI -- my mother taught me about Speakeasy's.
NNAMDIThis, this is not to say that all life is swell for all non-traditional venues in the District. One venue in Columbia Heights was recently barred from renewing a lease and the Punk shows at the restaurant, Casa Fiesta in Tenleytown are no longer going on, what happened there?
SCHWEITZEROh, you know, this is interesting and it's a symptom of what DIY bands are, you know, Do It Yourself or sort of smaller acts have to do, they have to play in these venues that aren't really venues, right. So Casa Fiesta is, I believe, it's a Salvadorean and Mexican restaurant in Tenleytown. It was hosting Metal and Punk shows because, you know, some local kids, they didn't really have anywhere else that they wanted to -- that they could play, that was just sort of an opportunity that came up. And, of course, after a while, the management of the restaurant decided, you know what, this is enough. These, these Punk and Metal shows are driving away customers.
SCHWEITZERThe, they're scaring them away. They're too loud and they decided that they were going to just kick them out. And -- but that's just, that's just normal, really, in DIY because a lot of the venues that Punk bands and Metal bands are playing, they're not real venues.
NNAMDIGotta take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation on D.C.'s musical ecosystem. If you have called, stay on the line, we'll try to get to your calls. If the lines are busy, you can go to our website kojoshow.org, join the conversation there or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. What do you feel other cities with thriving music scenes offer artists that the D.C. area might not, 800-433-8850? I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back, we're talking with Chris Richards, he is the Pop music critic at The Washington Post and a musician. He's joined in studio by Ally Schweitzer, the editor of WAMU 88.5's digital music project called Bandwidth. You can call us, 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. I'd like to start this segment by talking with Brian in Columbia, Md. Brian, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRIANHey Kojo, how you doing today?
BRIANVery good, good. I appreciate you having me on. What I really want to talk about is just kind of shed a little on, I guess, is specifically the Hip-Hop scene in D.C. You know, we have a lot of, kind of, big players now in the industry that are making their name, you know, nationwide.
BRIANWe have Wale, you know, Logic is coming out here to sell out a show and the Fillmore in Silver Spring and also just kind of how that music scene, I don't think, there's a lot of light shed on it but there's -- you -- being involved in it, as an artist, myself, as well as owning a business that puts on shows, you know, and really trying to help that grow, you know, we don't get a lot of -- it's, you know, it's hard to get into Howard Theater, hard to get local acts into the Fillmore to open up for some of these more national acts. But there's also a lot of places that, you know, show us -- show the scene, love, kind of on the underground.
BRIANThere are a lot of smaller, almost a kin to what you were saying with the kind of Punk rock beat. You end up playing -- having Hip-Hop in places that might not always have it.
NNAMDII'm glad you brought that up Brian because, Chris, to what degree do these economical forces, that we're talking about, effect different genres, disproportionately? It's my understand, that you feel, the current climate in D.C. may be great for individual DJ's...
NNAMDI...but less-so for bands and I don't know what you see it as being for Hip-Hop. But why is that?
RICHARDSWe can talk about that. I think, you know, in D.C., in the past five, seven, ten years, we've seen the rise of the DJ, we've seen the rise of the rapper, these are music's that can be composed and recorded without disturbing your neighbors, you know what I mean. And so I think we've seen a huge rise in those, in those kind of sounds. But I did a story for the Post, last year -- I believe early last year, about different musicians and why they had left D.C. And they had all left for different reasons.
RICHARDSA Country singer, Maggie Rose had gone to Nashville because Nashville's where you have to go to forge a Country career. It's where the industry is and it's such a well-oiled machine of an industry that you have to be there. A DJ like Jesse Tittsworth who is a friend of mine, had moved to Los Angeles. he's a partial owner of U-Street Music Hall, which I would say is the best dance nightclub in the city. But he lives in Los Angeles. He went there because his booking agent was there. There are other DJ's there. It's kind of like the American Berlin, for the dance music community. So different people leave the...
NNAMDIThere was a band that went to Portland?
RICHARDSThere was a band that went to Portland, in that story, exactly, a group called the Mean Jeans, who, you know, I think they had told me that they were tired of delivering pizzas and living in their parents' basements, so they went on tour and never came home, essentially. They thought Portland was affordable and they had fans there. So I think everyone just try -- gets in where they fit in and thought out Odyssey, another Rapper and Producer from Washington, D.C., went to Brooklyn. He said this amazing thing in the story.
RICHARDSHe's like, if you want to be in computers, you go to Silicone Valley, if you want to be a dairy farmer, you're gonna go to the Midwest. If you're gonna go be a part of the music industry, you might want to leave for Los Angeles and New York. It's unfair, you know, to say that D.C. doesn't have a vibrant dairy scene or, you know, computer technology scene. Which I thought was very insightful, actually.
NNAMDIBut, Brian, you do have people like Wale who chose to say.
BRIANRight. Right, exactly. And he's -- you know, he's been able to put on somebody like Fat Trel, for example. And then that brings more attention to the area. There's a lot more eyes looking here now, say, oh, okay, well Wale was from here, Fat Trel was from here, Shy Glizzy's from here, Logic is from here, you know, who else, who else can we look at for that scene and also now a lot of the listeners are also responding and realizing that, hey, there's, there's a lot of these talented individuals around us, you know, that maybe, you know, maybe we don't have to look to New York and...
NNAMDIWhich brings me to another question for both Chris and Ally. We talked, in the break, about the, the kind of shared sacrifices that lead to a kind of loyalty and bonding among artists here in D.C. Care to talk about that?
RICHARDSYeah, I mean, I think that's what we're seeing with all the outrage that we're hearing over these road -- you know, speed-block, road bumps with, with -- for Reno. People in Washington, D.C., because it's a survivalist music culture and you might see that band in a restaurant or a basement, you're forming a really intimate connection. And I think the interaction that audiences and musicians have in D.C. is very unique.
RICHARDSWe might not have, you know, the club system or the record label system of a Los Angeles or a New York but we do have this, sort of, really unique bond between performer and listener. And I think with all this Fort Reno hubbub, it's really evidence of that.
NNAMDIBoth of you have spent time covering, recently, the band Priests, whose guitar player, G.L. Jaguar, we should mention has worked in the engineering department in this facility in the past. What would you say is compelling about what they're doing to make their music and what they're doing to get out in front of audiences?
SCHWEITZEROh man, Priests is one of the most dynamic D.C. bands that I've seen in a very long time. But actually what they're doing to me, actually strikes me as somewhat old. I mean, the music that they're doing, it's, it's something that, I think, the D.C. did very well in the '80s and '90s. And that the way they're doing it now, is just sort of a, a revived take on it. Not to mention they're, they're singer Katie Alice Greer is a fantastic performer. And she is just so hard to not look at, on stage.
NNAMDII think that, that they've really injected a lot of life into what had been, sort of, a scene that was rehashing, you know, a lot of the '90s Indie Rock tropes and they're taking it back to Punk and they're doing a really, really great job.
NNAMDIA lot of romanticizing of the Punk scene that thrived here in the '80s and '90s. What do you make of this push, coming from so many people, to reconnect with that moment? Is it about a hope that the cities scene will recapture that energy in some way?
RICHARDSI think everybody is nostalgic at heart, anybody who loves music is nostalgic in some way. And while they want to see new things arise, it helps if they -- if there's an echo of the past. I mean, even in Wale's case, you know, we -- I'm sure it warms everyone in D.C.'s heart when he's sampling, you know, Go-Go tracks. I think everyone likes to know that something new can be made out of something old. That's just how music works, right? So we're seeing that in the case with Priests, I think.
NNAMDIAlly, where do genres like Go-Go fit into this? You both have covered the concerns that a lot of Go-Go bands and venue owners and promoters have about their music getting pushed out of neighborhoods by the forces of gentrification or by law enforcement, going after venues where violent incidence have taken place. There's a fair amount of pushback to an emergency measure that was put in place in Price George's County, that's rankled a lot of people on the Go-Go scene, can you talk about that, Ally?
SCHWEITZERThat's right. That's right. I mean, Go-Go really is in a crisis and it is -- it has been in D.C. for quite sometime. And Prince George's, now we're seeing this battleground emerge between Go-Go promoters and Prince George's County Counsel. They dropped a very big class action against Go-Go promoters, I mean, people who have interest in the Go-Go community. And Prince George's dropped a very big class action against the Prince George's County Counsel saying that, you know, essentially, the emergency legislation that the county passed a few years back is destroying their livelihood.
SCHWEITZERAnd, you know, this is something that -- I mean, this is the most obvious example of this battleground emerging but it's been happening in D.C. now for, for years.
NNAMDIThat 2011 emergency bill targeted the counties dance hall's and music venues, instituting requirements for businesses that allow dancing to seek a permit to do so, gave county law enforcement more authority to shut down businesses that they consider threats to public safety. It also prohibited people with criminal records from obtaining dance permits.
NNAMDIOn now to Melissa in Fairfax, Va. Melissa, your turn.
MELISSAHi, Kojo. Thank you so much for taking my call. I'm a big fan of your show and I love this topic. I'm a local musician, I'm a Folk singer, singer/songwriter, I've been playing in the D.C. and Northern Virginia area for about seven years. And in 2010 I formed my own house concert series and I had shows out of my townhouse in Reston, which is, you know, pretty unlikely spot. But I found that environment incredibly rich, both for musicians and for audience members.
MELISSAI controlled the environment, I controlled who came in, who came out, what was served, the music that was played. I had touring acts from all over the country. We charged, suggested donations. So artists always made more money then they would have at local venues when they had to split money with venues and whatnot. But I also found that there is a huge discrepancy, the huge gap between, between the available venues, especially for Folk, Country, Bluegrass, that kind of music, in this area where there's really small pockets of small house shows or small coffee shops or small restaurants.
MELISSAAnd then there's a few little speckles in-between venues and then there's like the 9:30 clubs. So there's, there's -- it's really hard to kind of, to feel out those gaps and to, to make a name for yourself when you're just playing all these little shows. I don't know if your, your commentators have something to say.
RICHARDSYeah, this is actually, you know, one of the great mysteries that I've been trying to solve my entire life. Especially, you know, as more and more people come to Washington, D.C., obviously, you know, there's gonna be a large percentage of that people who enjoy music and want to hear it. How do you get them to that music? I don't know if there's a gap in terms of the promoters or the evangelizers, the people who are out there getting the word out. I feel as a journalists, Ally and I are doing our best to, you know, beat the drum and let people know what's happening where, be lighthouses to try and guide people through the fog of what's happening.
RICHARDSBut there are so many people moving to Washington, D.C., how do we help them all find those shows. And it's tricky business. I'm still trying to figure this out.
NNAMDIAnd Melissa talked about how she was able to pay her bands, that's what Adam in Reston, Va., wants to talk about. Adam, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ADAMHey, how you doing? I love the show.
ADAMYeah, pretty much, I'm in a band as well and things everybody keeps mentioning, the seven year thing, I think that's the same with marriages as well. It kind of gets stale after a while. But, yeah, a couple things. First one I wanted to talk about was the, the payment of bands and how it seems to, no matter who you talk about, $50, a $100, it's the same rate it's been since the '70s.
NNAMDIIs that true, Chris?
RICHARDSFrom -- that does not sound totally out of the -- out of question, from what I understand, for -- being a starting out, yeah.
ADAMYeah, and so, and so if everything else is rising, you know, it's hard to do the balance of, you know, artist sacrifice and -- there's a lot of different things that goes on with a band, their family and work and how much you want to invest. But, so as far as different genres having an edge, being in the Bluegrass band, I found I can do weddings and all kinds of other types of venues besides the bar and actually make money. And so it's just, you know, relatively hard for a band to want to continue to play at a venue that keeps the same rate.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call.
NNAMDII know Chris, Black Boo from the band Mambo Sauce, told you that if Go-Go itself were more profitable and blowing up nationwide, bands and venues wouldn't have trouble with local government here. But I wanted to switch to another issue 'cause we're running out of time. Ecosystems are fueled by both supply and demand. We've talked for a while about the supply side, the people making the music and putting in front of audiences.
NNAMDIBut when it comes to consumers, Chris, you wrote recently, that chefs, in many ways, are the new rock-stars in D.C. That the young people who used to spend their money on rock shows, are now spending their disposable income on meals at hot restaurants. What sense do you get for why that's happening.
RICHARDSThis is a, a cultural shift that I think is happening across the nation and it's a story that I wrote last year, kind of hypothesizing, like, well if you're not buying a concert ticket, maybe you're spending that money on an expensive bowl of soup from Japan. There's a very high, sort of, a rising, I guess, cultural importance surrounding restaurants and food culture and how we eat. And I noticed this is at parties, people were not talking so much about the concert they saw or the record that they're listening to but, you know, the pork belly hotdog that they ate last weekend.
RICHARDSAnd, I think, that food culture is on the rise in D.C. I'd love to hear about, on this show, you know, about the chef culture and how they're doing, if they're struggling at all or if they're just raking in the bucks, at the expense of Rock-n-Roll.
NNAMDIAlly, what would you say to the idea that foodies may be killing Rock-n-Roll, or at least diverting attention and money away from the areas musical scene, playing more for their pork bellies then they want to pay for my guitar lists.
SCHWEITZERYou know, I actually, to an extent, do agree with that, yeah. I think, part of the issue is also that, you know, you can experience so much of the media that you consume everyday online and you can get it streaming and it's not even illegal anymore. You can stream any music you want for free. And so you're not gonna pay for the object of music, you're gonna pay for the experience that you can't get, you know, through a series of tubes. You know, you can't get an experience of a pork belly or whatever, you know, on the internet.
SCHWEITZERBut you can get it in person. So it just kinds of makes sense.
NNAMDIAnd we might be a part of this conspiracy because Erik Bruner Yang has appeared on this broadcast, not as a musician who played in the Virginia Indie band past but as the chef and owner of Toki Underground, the beloved H-Street Northeast Ramen eateries. So maybe there really is something there. But that's all the time we have right now. Chris Richards is the Pop Music Critic at The Washington Post. He's also a musician. Chris, thank you so much for joining us.
RICHARDSOh, such a pleasure. Thank you.
NNAMDIAlly Schweitzer is the editor of WAMU 88.5's digital music project, Bandwidth. Ally, back to work.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening, I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComing up tomorrow on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," Google's big plans for your android phone and your wrist, car and TV. The Computer Guys and Gal on the companies new push to control the mobile ecosystem. Then at 1:00, D.C. tour guides win a reprieve from licensing. Why an appeals court says District guides no longer need to pass a test and pay a fee. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," noon till 2:00, tomorrow on WAMU 88.5. And streaming at kojoshow.org.
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