History Left
History Right

2014 Forty Under 40 Game Changers

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Career Corner

Career Corner

Career Corner with Linal Harris

Career Corner, powered by U.S. CELLULAR, is a 30 minute segment designed to make you think about and question what you bring to today’s job market, who you want to be in job market of the future and help to equip you with the skills and know how to be ready for your new job!


Career Corner is hosted by Linal Harris, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer with U.S. Cellular.  



Linal Harris is an international business professional, Fortune 500 company executive, writer, speaker, entrepreneur and life coach*. He is also the recipient of a number of honors and awards, such as the Chicago Urban Roundtable’s 2012, 40 Game Changers under 40 award and The Chicago Defender’s 2013, Men of Excellence award.  


Prior to his role with U.S. Cellular, Harris assisted in the start-up and management of multiple call centers across the globe with efforts in countries like India, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Jamaica.  He has over 15 years of leadership, business operations and technology experience. 


Harris has held positions with a number of Fortune 500 companies, both domestic and international which has provided him a unique perspective on diversity and the impacts of globalization on achieving superior business results.   Under Harris’ leadership U.S. Cellular® has received a number of awards for their continued support of diverse suppliers and their work within diverse communities. Chicago is home for Harris and he has a strong passion for inspirational leadership and outreach within his community.   


Harris’ passion for leadership and inspiration is evidenced in his blog inspirationalperspective.com where he challenges his readers to murder mediocrity and live their best life possible. In addition to this, he continually shares his resources and time with inner city youth by volunteering and inspiring high school juniors and seniors to pursue further education.   “We all have the power to influence great change…but if we ignore that power…to create change…we could miss an opportunity to change our city, possibly the nation, maybe the world. Don’t underestimate the ripple effect you have on the rest of our lives.” – An excerpt from “What’s Your Ripple Effect?” by Linal Harris

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Black Heritage Film Series



Join WVON at the ICON theatre, 150 West Roosevelt Road, each Wednesday during Black History Month for the State Farm Black Heritage Film Series. Movies start promptly at 7PM and will be followed by post-discussion forum hosted by one of our on-air personalities and/or a special guest. The 2014 Lineup is as follows:



February 12th

Night Catches Us

In 1976, after years of mysterious absence, Marcus returns to the Philadelphia neighborhood where he came of age in the midst of the Black Power movement. While his arrival raises suspicion among his family and former neighbors, he finds acceptance from his old friend Patricia and her daughter. However, Marcus quickly finds himself at odds with the organization he once embraced, whose members suspect he orchestrated the slaying of their former comrade-in-arms. In a startling sequence of events, Marcus must protect a secret that could shatter everyone’s beliefs, as he rediscovers his forbidden passion for Patricia. Sponsored by State Farm.


February 19th

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

The Trials of Muhammad Ali is a Kartemquin documentary exploring Ali’s lifelong journey of spiritual transformation. From his Louisville roots, through his years in exile, to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Trials traces Ali’s path from poet to pariah to global ambassador for peace. Sponsored by State Farm.


February 26

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela is a 2011 drama film adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob’s biography Winnie Mandela: A Life. The film is directed by Darrell Roodt, and stars Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Wendy Crewson, and Elias Koteas. Sponsored by State Farm.


WVON State Farm Black Heritage Film Series

Each Wednesday in February, 7PM

Showplace ICON @ Roosevelt Collection

150 West Roosevelt Road

Chicago, IL

General Admission ticket $6

VIP ticket $12

Ticket sales at the theater beginning at 5PM.



February 5th

12 Years A Slave

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty at the hands of a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life. Sponsored by AARP.

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Dometi Pongo

Dometi Pongo


Dometi Pongo


News Anchor


Dometi Pongo (pronounced Doe-Muh-TEE) is a Chicago-native who earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUe). While there, he served as a key contributor to the Black Studies Program and its interactive medium The Cultural Front.


SIUe awarded Pongo the Dr. MLK Humanitarian Award for his continuous work in service-oriented projects. He was also the first student in the St. Louis market to be deemed both a National Black MBA Association Scholar and a National Sales Network Scholar in the same year.


Upon graduating, he worked as a Business Analyst for Target Corp. and a freelance Spoken Word artist and audio engineer. Pongo left Target Headquarters to return to Chicago and devote more time to his career in media broadcasting.


After attending the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, he joined WVON 1690AM as a Programming Intern for the Matt McGill Morning Show.


Pongo was promoted to On-Air News Anchor and has been working diligently ever since. He also serves as the Multimedia Director at Faith Victory Ministries Int’l as well as a Voice-Over Talent, Spoken Word Artist and Emcee

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Maxwell Billieon

Maxwell Billieon


Maxwell Speaks with

Maxwell Billieon


Tuesday, 11am and Friday at 10am on The Perri Small Show

Maxwell’s achievements are extremely diverse; his credentials extend across a wide array of professional and personal arenas that include:


Politics: Orator for the U.S. Legislative Black Caucus Foundation; consultant to various politicians including Senator, Congressman & Lieutenant Governor of California, the honorable Dr. Mervyn M. Dymally


Sports: Former award winning athlete, IDEA Certified Health Instructor, former career manager of X Games / ESPN champion athletes


Health / Wellness: Author / Writer on relationships and role reversal with Amazon accolades in various categories including Marriage, Relationship Advice, Health & Wellness & Dating; Maxwell has also written articles for various major nationally distributed editorial houses.


Entertainment: Former director and consultant supervising Artistic Development for Sony Music, Epic and Capitol Records; Executive Producer with Time Life Inc.


Social Commentator: On screen credits for Fox news, Dr. Drew and Ricki Lake as expert on social issues, style, travel and relationship concerns


Public Speaker: Honorary speaker and key note speaker to various organizations that include MTV, Facebook, USC, Phi Beta Sigma chapters as well as expert to government factions and non-profit organizations globally.


Additionally Maxwell has traveled extensively, having lived on six continents, he is bi-lingual and is widely considered an expert on culture and travel. Currently Maxwell is the host of his nationally broadcasted radio show, “Maxwell Speaks”, a radio format taking on hot topic socio-concerns of modern day.


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The Spirit of Giving Holiday Coat & Toy Drive

Holiday Coat & Toy Drive
Through December 21, 2013
Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm

The reason for the season is giving! Keep someone warm with a gently used coat, or bring joy to a child on Christmas with a new toy! Drop off your new unwrapped toy and gently used coats to WVON, 1000 East 87th Street, or to the South Side Help Center, 10420 South Halsted, weekdays between 10am until 4pm.

Presented by WVON & SSHC 

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Che “Rhymefest” Smith

Che “Rhymefest” Smith


Che “Rhymefest” Smith


Monday 6PM – 9PM

Che “Rhymefest” Smith is the quintessential renaissance man as a father, husband, entrepreneur and raptivist. Inspired by his life experiences in a single-parent, working class household, Che has blazed a new trail in art, music and social activism. In 2005, Che won a Grammy for co-writing the historic record “Jesus Walks,” performed by his childhood friend Kanye West. He has served as co-writer on many of Kanye’s albums including Late Registration, Graduation, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus. He is currently nominated for a grammy for co-writing 2013’s hit, “New Slaves.”

Finally, in 2011, Che was the first rapper to ever run for city council in Chicago. After successfully defeating 3 other candidates, he lost to the incumbent in a run-off race by a mere 200 votes. He continues to be active in local and national elections.

Che has supported countless community organizations as a mentor and motivational speaker. In 2013, Rhymefest along with Kanye West launched Donda’s House, Inc.  to honor the educational legacy of Dr. Donda West (Kanye’s mother) by implementing arts and literature experiences that transform youth. Currently, he is finalizing his third major music release and first book release Violence Is Sexy, with an expected release in the Fall of 2014. Che “Rhymefest” Smith believes “the only true power is the power to empower others.”

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Elevated Places

Elevated Places


Elevated Places

with Dr. Ava Muhammad

Dr. Ava Muhammad is an attorney, author and spiritual adviser. She has spoken extensively on many issues and keeps her listeners up to date via her popular weekly radio show ‘Elevated Places’ which is heard nationwide on WVON-1690AM. She received her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University and is a member of the New York Bar, and has also been featured in Essence Magazine, which named her one of America’s most powerful Black women.  


With extensive experience in the area of law and as an astute observer of current affairs, she is plugged directly in to Black America’s sentiments regarding many issues facing us today. Hear her answers to your thought-provoking questions! Use the hashtag #AskDrAva when submitting them via Twitter or FaceBook!


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Maya Akai

Maya Akai



The Maya Akai Show

Thursday 6PM-9PM

Maya is a native of Joliet, IL, and still resides in the area.  She attended the University of Iowa, and hosted a weekly radio show on the University student based radio station KRUI. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Arts Communications Studies, Maya immersed herself in the Chicago independent film scene, working on several small independent films and documentaries. Maya also continued her broadcast training by taking production classes at Columbia College in digital editing and later acquired a Master of Science Integrated Marketing Communications from Roosevelt University. In 2010 Maya took a chance on pursuing her lifelong dream of sports talk radio and auditioned for an on air talent search hosted by a local CBS Radio affiliate 670 The Score. After going toe to toe with 700 contestants, predominately male, Maya won the contest and hosted her own two hour weekend show, the Maya Gavin Show for over a year.  After leaving 670 the Score, Maya launched her own internet show based sports talk show on BlogTalkRadio, The Maya Gavin Show. In June 2012, she joined the WVON family on the Sunday night sports talk show The Sports Cypher (formerly Stats & Stilettos) as a host.

Though born and raised in the Midwest, Maya has traveled extensively since the age of nine visiting 15 countries throughout Europe, Asia and the West Indies.  When she is not pursuing her talk radio career, Maya works in the Mental Health Field as a Crisis Intervention Specialist and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Psychology. Maya’s experience in mental health, post-secondary education and social service  contributes to her dynamic perspective and conversation on Life and everything in between!

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