A Full-Circle Moment: Ernest Owens Joins City Council Live As Host

todayMay 18, 2023

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Ernest Owens is a dynamic individual who wears many hats. As the president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ), Editor at Large at Philadelphia Magazine, an award-winning journalist and author of “The Case For Cancel Culture,” Owens has established himself as a cultural force in the Philadelphia journalism ecosystem. In addition to leading Ernest Media Empire and hosting his weekly podcast, he now adds another role to his impressive roster. Prepare to tune in as Ernest takes the helm as the new host of City Council Live starting Thursday, May 25, at 10 am. We had the privilege of asking Ernest a few questions so that our listeners could get to know him better.

What do you look forward to most about hosting City Council Live? 

I’m super excited to be able to provide great context and analysis for the community in the people’s house, City Hall. For nearly a decade, I’ve been reporting, studying, and providing commentary on the ins and outs of City Council. I can’t wait to interview some of the most influential people in this city and get to the heart of how they plan to lead within our communities. This opportunity is truly a full-circle moment. 

You were a City Council Communications Fellow in college. How was that experience and how did it prepare you for this role?

When I was a college senior at Penn (Class of 2014), I had the honor of being a Philadelphia City Council Communications Fellow. This role gave me the opportunity to work with all elected City Council members in helping to showcase their work via the Council’s official social media accounts, website and more. This experience exposed me to how City Council actually works and the internal politics and personalities who shape the legislation that impacts the public. Essentially, City Council is a legislative body that churns out policies that are often practical (such as budgeting, zoning, and street sign renaming), but can sometimes be unprecedented (such as a soda tax or fair workweek). Seeing up close how City Council operates across the political aisle has prepared me to now weigh in on it weekly. 

In your view, what should the legislative priorities of the new City Council be?

Poverty, safety and children should be the major legislative priorities of the new City Council. A city with deep poverty, unacceptable gun violence and neglected youth (via failing public education and inadequate social services) can never truly claim to be a world-class city. Poverty reveals how we lack humanity, safety tells us well we protect one another, and youth shows us the state of the future. If these three things aren’t properly addressed, nothing else we try to achieve in Philadelphia will prosper. 

Why should young people listen to City Council Live and what will you do to encourage them to listen? 

This show is for the people, and that includes young people. Too often, we ignore that the policies we implement today will impact them now and in the future. You can’t discuss issues involving gun violence, poverty and education, without having young people have a seat at the table. As a proud millennial and youngest host of this show, it’s imperative to me to use my various platforms to help engage everyone — especially those who will soon be leading this city in the next few years. 

Besides listening to WURD, what should the average citizen do to be more engaged with City Council?

When you’re not listening to City Council Live, you should actually attend a session and see the action for yourself. Every Thursday at 10 am, every day citizens should challenge themselves to see how their lives are being impacted in real time at least once. Beyond that, make it a point to know who your district’s city councilperson is and attend their public events. Of course, one should vote — but that experience will be so much more if you make it a point to stay engaged for the next four years. I often tell others that it’s never that hard for me to vote on Election Day because I’ve kept track of those who have shown up and those who haven’t. If more Philadelphians did the same, imagine how far our city could soar. It starts by listening to City Council Live, but it continues with more engagement and voting at the end.


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Written by: WURD Radio

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