WGBH's Henry Santoro interviews Mike Boston, creator of Mobile Stu and the #BlackWithBlue campaign that uses a mobile studio to unite and bring harmony to Boston police officers and Boston neighborhood youth. Also joining the conversation is Chris Lee, Creative Director at A&G Advertising Agency in Boston. Below is a loosely edited transcription of their conversation. Click on the audio file above to listen to the interview.
Henry Santoro: Sitting across from me here in Studio 5 at WGBH radio are two guys who have found a way to give a voice to inner-city youth in Boston and if I told you that it's a collaboration oftentimes between troubled kids and the cops you'd probably say "No way." So, let me introduce you to Mike Boston and Chris Lee the creative forces behind mobile Stu, a pickup truck slash recording studio owned by Mike Boston. And good morning. Thanks so much for coming on Henry In The Hub and WGBH Weekend Edition.
Mike Boston/Chris Lee: Good morning, thank you for having us for having us.
HS: Mike let's start with you. What's the backstory of Mobile Stu?
MB: Basically, me just trying to provide opportunities for young people that can’t like mix too much with the population because of their affiliations and their geographic upbringing that they could get mistaken for. So, I basically was just taking my dad's pickup truck that he left me. I retrofitted it to record and mic'ed it up and gave these guys a chance to be heard.
HS: What neighborhoods do you visit?
MB: So, I work with Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, East Boston, Chelsea, all over different parts of Boston proper but also the Chelsea community and anywhere actually. I'll go anywhere whether it's Brookline or Wellesley.
HS: Doesn't matter. That's the reason Mobile Stu! Chris what is your role?
CL: And I'm a Creative Director at A&G, Allen and Gerritsen Advertising Agency. Mike and I became friends and he worked on some campaigns for us with the Celtics, and I saw what he was doing with Mobile Stu, and through a program at the agency called Action and Goodness, we helped them develop and brand Mobile Stu and launch the movement of #BlackWithBlue.
HS: The kids that you're reaching out to are, in many instances, one court case away from jail. Rather than bring them to a studio you bring the studio to them. Describe the look on their faces when they realize that that's their voices coming out of the speakers.
MB: I even... at one time a guy cried, like he just couldn't believe that we were in his neighborhood, like we took them that seriously. It's like them getting their first birthday cake ever.
HS: Where did the collaboration with the Boston police come in? That's the #Black With Blue campaign.
MB: We sat down, basically Chris, myself, and a few others, we were talking about we're using this to de-escalate situations in the city of Boston between young men and other young men... gang rivalries for the most part. So, #BlackWithBlue was, you know, thought up with those of us that work at A&G so that we could use the de-escalation point of Mobile Stu.
HS: And that's where the song in the video “One Beat For Peace” came in. Yes. Which is awesome by the way.
MB: Thank you.
HS: It's great too. Any reaction from the Mayor or the Police Commissioner or any other city officials?
CL: Marty tweeted about it, Marty Walsh, Mayor Marty.
MB: Deputy Nora Baston tweeted about it several times. She's like one of our biggest supporters.
CL: She was she was absolutely amazing to me. She marshaled a bunch of people. We kept saying that, you know, for it to be successful it couldn't just be about police presence there had to be participation, and the folks that showed up, we had this roundtable discussion and there was artwork and of course we recorded the track. The officers that came with Nora were just terrific.
HS: And they had great voices! That was amazing to hear, too.
MB: You would never know it was the first time!
HS: No, you would not. Mike Boston Chris Lee, thank you so much for the work that you do and for giving a voice to so many who feel voiceless. Mobile Stu is such a great idea and it's on all the social media platforms. Thank you so much.
MB/CL: Thank you.