Stuart's passing cuts pretty close to home. We share the same birth year, both worked for UNC's student radio WXYC (Stuart on the weekly sports show, Sports Rap; me as a music DJ and member of station management), and ultimately, both found ourselves miles away from Chapel Hill at some level of achievement in the media industry...albeit in very different corners. We never never connected, but as one will, I always took a moment to identify our tenuous links in my mind when Stuart came into focus.
Among the many other things I studied as an undergraduate was Folklore. I had, and still have, a strong interest in popular culture, which led me to seek the antecedents of hip-hop in this small pocket of the Anthropology department. In that study, I encountered a lot of things that my - admittedly - very different cultural background had not exposed me to previously. One of the most fascinating was the tradition of "signifyin'" - the use of verbal play and cleverness with language as a way to bring attention to a topic and ascribe a certain amount of power and prestige for the speaker at the same time. This idea comes from strong roots in West African culture and resonates here in a wide range of examples like the old children's game called The Dozens to any number of fast-talking comedians and actors over the years, and through hip-hop to Stuart's revolutionary approach to sportscasting.
I'm no longer in the cultural studies business - and perhaps am now a good bit closer to the means of creation and distribution of content - but, I still take an informed joy in the way Stuart used a turn of phrase in his unique and brilliant way to make the sporting moment MORE than it was on face value. He described it, amplified it, and reintroduced it into the world in a powerful way. The "voice" he used to do that with has transformed modern media in ways that feel both culturally inevitable and uniquely authored at the same time. So, in recognition of that achievement, let me say "Bravo" to this achievement - or as Stuart himself might have said, "Boo-Ya!".
From me personally, and from all of us at Clear-Com, thank you Stuart for your incredible career - right through to the end of last year's ESPY's. We send our heart-felt condolences to his family and friends. He burned brightly.....
~ Bob Boster, President, Clear-Com
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