Watching Prince Albert in the movie The King’s Speech and his struggles with stuttering, both before and after he became king of England, was as compelling a drama as I’ve ever seen in a film whose main characters were two middle aged men. The King’s Speech had no sex, no violence, no real special effects, the modern trifecta Hollywood insists on shoehorning into almost all of its films, whether they need them or not. Mostly, the film was the sound of two men talking, juxtaposed against a backdrop of some of the most gripping moments of twentieth century history.
And yet, despite the lack of motion and the many, many shots that seem to approximate the character of a painter’s still life, I was simply enthralled by the would be king’s predicament. As I sat in the movie theater, watching the all the microphones loom large on the screen, I thought about the guest appearance on WEAA in Baltimore that I’d taped last Friday, and remembered how nervous I was the first time I was on the show. Unlike King George VI, my first radio appearance was taped, so I didn’t have the added pressure of doing it live, but I was still nervous just the same.
The radio interview process itself was something new to me. I have been known to talk until the cows come home, but when no one is recording you, and your audience may or may not be paying attention, you have a whole lot of leeway when it comes to the facts or even actually making sense. So I was more than a little nervous when the sound engineer called my phone a few minutes before the taping was to begin. Something wasn’t working right, so he had to call me back a minute or so later.
When the engineer called back, Sean Yoes, the host of the AFRO/First Edition radio show, came on the line a few seconds later and introduced himself.
“We’re on in twenty seconds,” he said.
This was it. The last few seconds before-
“Oh yeah,” Sean said. “We need to do a mic check real quick, Kris.”
I couldn’t think of anything else, so I said “one-two one-two” the way I’d heard the old school rappers do it.
Sean laughed. “A-ha. There is a brown man at Brown Man Thinking Hard. Whenever I ask a brother to do a mic check, I always get the same thing: ‘one-two one-two’.”
And just like that, seconds before we were going to record the show, I felt like I knew him. The next thing you know, Sean was smoothly segueing into his introductory patter a split second after the engineer opened our connection. After the first few minutes, it was just the sound of two men talking.