Ten minutes until 9 p.m. on a Friday evening. Inside a building shared with Roland Muhammad’s Bean Shoppe at 111th Street and Superior Avenue a group of web broadcasters are making sure three video cameras are ready to roll for the “Playa T Show.” About half a dozen steady members have come together every week since 2005 at this same time and location.
By JOEY POMPIGNANO
Ten minutes until 9 p.m. on a Friday evening. Inside a building shared with Roland Muhammad’s Bean Shoppe at 111th Street and Superior Avenue a group of web broadcasters are making sure three video cameras are ready to roll for the “Playa T Show.” About half a dozen steady members have come together every week since 2005 at this same time and location. During a sound check, host Terry “Playa T” Crumpton’s lavaliere microphone gets tested as well as handheld microphones for guests. No taller than the shortest point guard on any roster, Playa T stands confident in his olive green suit. The fresh-dressed 39-year-old adjusts his tie before stepping on stage with golf club in hand.
“On one of our first episodes I picked the golf club up because I wanted to kill my nerves,” Playa T said. “I wanted to remember my monologue, so I needed a stage prop to help me focus.”
After putting the “stage prop” aside, viewers called up the show inquiring about it. He brought it back, and it’s become a staple of his image. Sometimes mistaken as a cane, it represents more than a tool once used to ease anxiety.
“When you see someone on the golf course they have two things I admire: Time and money,” Playa T said. It’s a reminder for me to stay focused on the things I really want out of life and I respect out of life.”
Now in its sixth year, the Playa T Show started as a DVD magazine titled “Welcome to Cleveland” before transitioning into a live Internet show broadcasted worldwide. Past guest appearances include TV personality “Big” Chuck Schodowski, Plain Dealer reporter Branson Wright and District 7 councilwoman Yvonne Conwell. The show also highlights products, goods and services of lesser-known figures in the local arts and entertainment industry, providing a platform for their talents to be displayed.
“A lot of underground and upcoming acts can’t go on a Jay Leno or Oprah or Larry King or Bill Maher,” Playa T said. “They don’t have another place to turn, so they’re kind of stuck in a rut, stuck in the mud. I fill that void. ‘Hollywood in the Hood’ fills that void.”
“Hollywood in the Hood”, the alternate title for the “Playa T Show” is a phrase used with affection for bringing a positive media presence to the Glenville community. While Playa T and guests sit for an interview in a late night show setting, the open storefront window behind them reminds viewers of the set’s urban surroundings. Passersby peer into the building, taking a moment to wave or dance in front of cameras. Some sit with the live audience at no charge.
Amongst the 20-seat audience sat Valencia Davis, a loyal attendee of the show for two years. Davis, 31, of Garfield Heights said she’s seen a variety of guests come on the show, from singers and rap artists to insurance agents and small business owners.
“(The show) is uplifting and it brings people together,” Davis said. “It lets people know that there’s more going on out here than just drugs.”
For 17-year-old Shaw High School junior Alvin Clark, the “Playa T Show” has been a way to avoid the ills of the streets. He credits Playa T and staff for taking him under their wings six years ago when he was what he described as “undisciplined,” and for helping him pave a pathway to college.
“My grandmother told me if I really want to change, start hanging with them because these are the people to be with,” Clark said.
Playa T and staff taught Clark marketing, promoting, photography and graphic design. He started improving academically in school and began setting goals that didn’t always seem achievable to him. The pride that Clark has for his involvement in the show he said he hopes will rub off on his peers.
“Sometimes I bring my friends to experience it, to expose them to the atmosphere,” Clark said. “Positive energy surrounds the place.”
Attendees experienced that “positive energy” when R&B duo B Smooth guest appeared on the show. After finishing their performance Davis applauded in delight. She said she will continue attending more shows in the future because it’s “inspiring.”Davis explained how having a web television show in Glenville is like making a statement to area residents. “You could be successful and accomplish anything,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are. As long as you strive to get the things that you want, you’ll have it.”