about ayana contreras
I am passionate about sound and color. I work in radio, my first professional hosting gig was hosting WBEZ’s “Global Overnight” program in 2007. I am currently host/producer of Reclaimed Soul, a weekly radio program that airs on Vocalo.org 91.1fm (sister station of WBEZ) and on WBEZ in Chicago. I am also a columnist and reviewer for DownBeat magazine.
From 2017 until 2020, I served as a producer for a nationally-distributed radio show called Sound Opinions, which is hosted by Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis.
Before joining the team at Sound Opinions, I served as Executive Producer of two other weekly programs on Vocalo:
The Barber Shop Show (hosted by WBEZ’s Richard Steele)
and Practically Speaking (hosted by Audra Wilson)
My mission with my productions is to illuminate issues and perspectives that are too often left out of mainstream media. I also want my work to shift perceptions about what we choose to value (and what we don’t value nearly enough).
For nearly a decade, I blogged at Darkjive.com. My goal was to document the narratives, history, and cultural significance of the music scene in 20th Century Chicago. I’m a DJ who spins my “findings” across this city.
I am also working on a book called Energy Never Dies, which documents the cultural contributions (via art, music, advertising, and media) that post-civil rights era Black Chicago gave to the world.
At one time, I taught Radio and Podcast Production and Media Literacy to High School students through YOUmedia (a collaboration between the Digital Youth Network, The MacArthur Foundation, and the Chicago Public Library).
In 2014/2015, I was an Arts + Public Life resident artist at the University of Chicago. Before that, I was a resident artist at Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects (an experiment in re-valuing the undervalued and rebuilding a community).
I also love Chicago: where we’re going and where we’ve been.
I believe in the power of out-of-the-box ideas. Ideas can baptize our perceptions and forever change our view of the world, if we only believe in possibility and ask questions (despite what might be right in front of us). This site is intended as a portal to such change. Look out.