FORTitude FW Where Stories Never Die

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RMH 29: Chris Howell

Chris Howell

Broadcast Personality

Chris Howell joins Fortitude with his “Golden Voice” to discuss his amazing career. Chris’s talent has led him to multiple awards, celebrity interviews, a thriving media and communication agency, a book, advocacy for change, and most importantly his namesake Foundation, which works to create opportunities for those in need. Chris Howell is one of the good guys.

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Episode Transcription: 

FORTitude (Chris Howell-Broadcast Personality)

Thu, 9/16 7:07PM • 24:14


folks, chris, dallas, foundation, talk, nature, zig, called, community, hiv, award, communications, man, absolutely, joel, interview, boxes, wife, little bit, hiv aids awareness


Welcome back to fortitude folks. Today we have a guy by the name of Chris how he’s a Dallas guy, but we’re gonna embrace Him, bring him into the fold and show him a little luck because this guy does some really impressive stuff. Welcome to the show, Chris.


Thank you so much for not holding it against me to your present


experience. This is this look right to you. The record button is been pushed. Yeah, this time. So friend,


Mr. Chris, how he does this. He’s done this for a long time Brinton, so he could probably give us a few pointers. Yes, yes. So


what I really like to set up I mean, you guys got an awesome set up. I’m looking over there. Try to see cuz you’re asked about that record. But no, thank you recording. It’s lit up.


any mistakes along this process? Let us know. Because we need all the help. We can. Yeah. Okay.


I’m learning as I as I’m sitting here, I’m observing and I’m learning. Yeah. Well,


thank you for being here. We appreciate your time. Our story’s really incredible. We want to share it with with our folks, our moms, of course, we have two fans. So at least we have a


multi channel so so it actually feels a little bit bigger and more exponentially. Okay.


But you’re an award winning journalist for a good period of time. You wrote a book called man talk before like to stop right there. Tell us about this book man talk.


Absolutely. I’m excited about it. Man talk is a book that I actually wrote though, in 2004. And man talk was derived out of sessions that I was hosting at the potter’s house man at the potter’s house of Dallas. It’s a church there were Bishop TD Jakes. And we wanted a program that offered something to men more a bishop Jake’s had the Sunday morning covered. So he had the whole spiritual aspect covered.


He’s pretty good at it. I


hear Yeah, yeah, absolutely. One of the best. So we wanted something that kind of talked to the practical issues that we as men face. So we designed a program, it was a second Wednesday of every month, where we talk was entitled, man talk, we brought men in on a Wednesday evening, anywhere from 500 to 1000 guys would attend, we would talk about a man in his education, a man in his wardrobe, a man in his attire and a man in his woman, you know, things of that nature to really just speak to that practical issues we meet it’s weird and being face. And it was surprising that so many guys responded to it. But that the challenge with it was so many guys were at their own church on a Wednesday night or they’re working or whatever reason is, they couldn’t make it. So we wrote man talk in a way to really try and continue that conversation further out into the community. And I’ve been pleased with it very


nice. When you look across this desk at these two guys over here, what immediately sticks out as a red flag, your clothing, demeanor, looks, whatever,


none of that at all. You know what I really see Oh, JW se two guys who have a great friends, and who are working together in a great way. And that’s one of the things that we talk about. We as men really don’t have friendships anymore. And that’s another important aspect, we really need to embrace friendship and have friends have that guy that you can go and you can talk to the mask comes off and you can be real and honest about what you’re facing. Because so many times we hold so many things inside until we implode. And nobody knows that you’re facing all these things. Like for example, we’ll go to we talked about in the book, you may go to a friend’s house for dinner, and then your wife, you and your wife are riding the car and she’s a man, regularly, we’re really going to be praying for JW for surgery on Thursday. Maybe he’s having surgery on Thursday. You guys have spent two hours ago you never mentioned it to him. But his wife is in the kitchen telling him or your wife that you know what we’re going to be praying for him. We really need you guys prayer because he’s going to have the surgery or whatever it is. So many times as men, we just don’t open up and communicate the way that we should. Thank you


for those kind words. Can we get that check? And that’s our show. That’s our best show. And


this has been a great




You are the president and CEO of the Chris howl. Communications communications use me as well as Chris Hall foundation. Absolutely. two separate entities. Individually, the course how communications? Can you tell us about that?


Absolutely. Chris, our communications like any former journalist when I came out of the newsroom, I left 90.9k CBI june of 2013. I like to say that I left but really they closed the news department and kind of pushed us out of there. What were you doing there? news reporter okay. It wasn’t midday news reporter and morning, reporter and midday news anchor for 90.9k CBI FM I did that for seven years. And then of course, when you leave the newsroom, the next best thing to do is open up your communications agency because of course not you want to sis folks who are getting their story up. So that’s what we did. We actually opened up an office november of 2013, downtown Dallas, and I’ve been doing that ever since we’ve had clients such as Dallas Independent School District, Dallas Police Department, Dallas, black Chamber of Commerce and others who’ve come alongside of us and allowed us to really be able to serve them in a positive way.


When you’re on the air Chris, what’s the craziest or normal thing that happened to you? Can you share anything that might have transpired because we have a few of our own but we want to compare it to an expert?


Well, I’ll tell you one of the things my first time ever going out reporting we’re in the newsroom. We’re just talking about what’s going to be happening for the day. All of a sudden we have the televisions up and all of a sudden we look up wF a NBC five everybody’s wall to wall on this explosion. It was a tire plant that was had an explosion going on there. Hmm. Chris, go Like, what am I supposed to? Yeah, this is my first time going out, I jumped into vehicle, I’m going down the freeway, traffic is backed up, because of course, they’ve got this explosion going on, you can’t really get to it. I have to start doing my reporting sitting in the vehicle behind the wheel. I’m on the phone, and I’m just reporting live from what I see going on. I see a plume of black smoke up in the air, things of that nature. And it’s live reporting. And that was my very first time ever going out doing it. I get back to the station. Everybody’s giving me an applause and said, Hey, man, you did a great job of like, Well, you know what I thought I just really thought What the Hell yeah, I thought they’re gonna kick me out. And let me get a this is a cut out for this. But that’s great. I turned out to be a great thing. That’s awesome. So


when did the foundation come about? And let me ask this. Now, we had a little discussion beforehand. You did name it the Chris Hall foundation. So does anybody ever give you a hard time about that? Debbie, does that does that go with that?


I will say this, and no one has ever given me a hard time about it. I sometimes think about even with Chris Hall communications. The only reason I named it after myself is because I was trying to take the brand that I developed over seven years of being on air, and hopes that I could confer that brand with namely the Chris Howard comedic with named Chris Hall communications. When it came time to the foundation, it was a decision. Because it really the foundation was started after my brother. It was an honor of him because when we launched the foundation, my wife and I sat down and we looked at now that we have little bit of a platform, we want to use this platform in a responsible way to give back to the community. So we looked at the fact that her mom and her sister had died due to breast cancer. So we looked at the breast cancer issue. And then we looked at HIV, and my brother was 33 when he died of HIV, complications, HIV and AIDS.


How long ago Chris,


this was in 2016. Yeah, I’m sorry. 2008 2006. We started the foundation 2016


and then you left 2007 you started the communications


2013 when we left, okay, okay. But it was 2006 my brother passed away. It wasn’t until 2016 that we started the foundation. Okay. But again, we were thinking, Okay, you’re on the radio, you have a little bit of a platform, you do the things with the potter’s house. I mean, you’ve got a little bit of reputation there. How do we use this in a responsible way? Do we try to challenge our energy toward breast cancer? Or do we come to combat HIV AIDS awareness at that time, and I believe even still, to this day, Dallas, Texas was continuing to lead the state in new HIV infection rates. So we said you know what, we’ll address HIV. So we started the foundation in honor of raising education and awareness regarding HIV, stating the fact that it’s still an epidemic in our communities. But the question at the end was, do you name it after Cedric? Hell your brother? Or do you name it? Of course, hell, when no one knew my brother. So I figured the best thing to do would be to name it after myself. So no one’s ever given me a hard time about it their answer, that was the reason we started because we thought we’d be able to begin to have the traction from being the brand on the radio, television, things of that nature. And then folks within Linder efforts to what we were trying to do with the it education,


so the Brinton pain Foundation, we’re not quite ready for that yet, in case you’re wondering.


I think I would get some people give me a hard time about that.


I don’t know, though. I think you know, what, again, many times folks who are attracted to the calls, I mean, may not be so much caught up into the name. Again, it was just something that I did. But if someone’s looking to start a foundation, I think, Brinton, I don’t think you’ll have a problem at all. I think you’ll be fine. So


Chris, the on the communications business piece, you have interviewed folks like Zig Ziglar TD Jakes, you mentioned earlier, Sarah Ferguson and when Joel olsteen, the O’Steen These are some pretty good names. We know a little bit about TD Jakes from Metroplex. But what’s a guy like Zig Ziglar? Or Sarah, can you tell some tell a little bit of give a little bit of feedback from these interviews with these type of people?


Absolutely. Well, I had the great fortune of interviewing Zig before he passed away. I was with Casey bi at the time. And of course, Zig was hosting these Monday morning prayer sessions every time. So as you know, when it’s in the slow news cycle, you try to think of evergreen product, we said, well, someone like Zig is certainly going to be evergreen. And that means something that you can hear at any time. It’s not a dated product. So


we’ll take that down. We’re gonna write that.


So they sent me over one morning and had an opportunity to attend the session, after the session had an opportunity to sit down with Zig. And I’m glad I did, I think it would may have been, it may have been maybe six to nine months before that he actually passed away. So I had an opportunity to just really sit down with him and just talk about his career and talk about his faith and how he was not afraid to interject his faith into the work that he did. Most folks who do the work that Zig was doing at the time motivational speaking things of that nature, rarely ever show their faith aspect of it. They just typically just stay outside the frame so they can have more clients, your corporate clients, things of that nature. But I guess one of the things that I really took away from that interview was two things. First and foremost, how much he didn’t shy away from his faith. But the other part was how much he loved his wife. I mean, he made no bones about the fact that he loved his wife, and he wanted you to know that he loved that little redhead. And I appreciated that surely, because I think sometimes as men, we don’t really do that part and oil. We don’t show our faith as much and we don’t really talk about our spouse as much as we probably should. Point.


What do we talk about sports? Our car, our college athletes, shirts, Nature.


What was Joel olsteen? We know he is he’s bought the Houston Rockets old Coliseum. He’s turned it into this incredible a huge place. He’s got a little religious army behind him. It’s It’s unbelievable. I mean that in a in a positive way. I don’t know much about this man. But what what was what was Joel like?


And you’re absolutely right. And I didn’t know much about him either prior to interviewing him, and I actually had the opportunity interview Joel over at Jan Miller and Jeff rich is home over in Highland Park. That’s a part of Dallas, I’m sorry. And I was he taught that it was. No, it was not, it was exactly the height that I had imagined he would be okay. Only because I guess being in production, I kind of can tell those things. yassine someone on television, I don’t think they’re larger or bigger, or anything of that nature. But I will tell you, he was the most humble guy. You know, prior to him coming into the room, his team was very aggressive and want to know what we’re going to talk about things of that nature. But we were actually talking about his book, The Power of I Am. And I think that’s probably been maybe some three, four years ago, when we actually did that interview. But we sat down, we talked about the book. And one of the things that I liked, what he said was, it was again, the power of your own words and what you say to yourself and about yourself. And I think that was very important. So it was something that I’ve always somewhat done in my life, but didn’t realize that I guess all of the information and then the research that Joel had done behind it, and what it does for your psyche, and how it does allow you to either move forward, or to remain behind being based on what it is you say to yourself. Very nice. He’s a nice guy. He’s very nice guy, very cordial. He really like you guys are talking about the setup you have here. He was really checking out our setup because again, we did this in someone’s home in the library of their home to their own lights took our own cameras. Yeah, everything. And he was really checking it out. Cuz he’s a production guy. Oh, yeah.


Like you are a member, we had that little thing that you can’t copy. And this is original. But


we talked about the possibility of you guys maybe franchising this out. So those who are listening or watching and like the setup, and


we know you have some major network ties, we’d be happy to entertain.


Probably had Joe probably had a piece behind you except in the authentic piece. That was all


in that home. There’s several pieces in there.


Yes, you’re all ours from Aaron brothers or Michaels, as well as the frame shop that they have there. So


you’re doing better than me. I’m in Ross. I’m calling around for Ross looking for things to put up.


So Chris, you are you’re been featured in multiple Christian publications, you’ve produced numerous video projects. In 2014, you won the each moment matters Ward describe that place.


That was a that’s an award that’s given by the Presbyterian foundation. And again, what they do is a look around this landscape in Dallas, and they look for individuals who are making an impact in the lives of others. And for that award, I was recognized for I guess primarily the work that I had done on Casey VI, one of the things that I’d done on KC VI is I had the great privilege of coming up with a program called Christian news focus. And Christian news focus was a four minute program that aired every Friday. And it really highlighted those organizations such as mission Arlington and others who are really making a difference in the community, but rarely get the public exposure that other organizations get. They don’t get the United Way’s and all the others who get so much exposure, it was really late. And folks know that here, organizations were really making a difference. And it was doing two things. First of all, it made you aware of the fact that if you needed those services, those services were available to you. Secondly, if you were looking for an opportunity to partner or volunteer with an organization, there was an opportunity for you to partner partner volunteer. So I guess when they came to me about this award, it was like, you know, we really liked the work that you’ve been doing through the how you use your voice, and the platform of radio to really try and make a difference in the lives of others. Being someone with your background, who then stepped up to say, you know what, I’m going to open up a door for other people. And I was grateful for the awards, certainly grateful for it. Because when you look in that booklet with some of the other folks who were in there. Yeah, it was absolutely.


Congratulations on that. Thank you. Let’s turn a little bit to the Chris Hall foundation piece. Tell us what kind of work the foundation does. We’ve we all know here. But for some of our listeners,


absolutely. I thank you for the opportunity to do it. Chris Hill Foundation, again, started in 2016. with a focus on HIV AIDS awareness, we went around through the community. And as we started doing that, the community started really challenging us in some ways and said, you know what we love the work you guys are doing in this space. But there’s so many other things that we really need to address. And so we started looking at it. And with HIV education and awareness, you’re really telling folks what not to do. And sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do, because people don’t want to hear what they shouldn’t do. So when we started looking at, you know, we really want to be more of a voice of empowerment and education. So what we started doing when was saying, Okay, let’s talk overall health, let’s talk overall wellness and financial literacy. Because if you can restore hope into someone, you don’t have to spend so much time telling them what not to do. Folks are engaging in risky and sexual risky sexual behavior, because again, there’s no hope for the future. I’m not thinking about tomorrow, I’m only thinking about this moment. So when we started addressing it more from a health standpoint of making taking care of your body, when we started focusing more on an empowerment piece to we’re going to give you the tools that you need. To move you beyond where you are today to where you can have a better tomorrow, then it became less of a what not to do of here’s what more of what you can do. So what we’ve been doing prior to COVID, obviously, we were going throughout the community doing health and wellness fairs, and it was overall health, everything that you can think of, we would have folks there to do screening and testing. When COVID hid, we had to shift a little bit like many others, we had to shift. So what we focused on at that time was how do we get into the community and give folks PP care packages. That’s where we’re initially going to start with. We had hand sanitizer hand so and mask, we put them in small packages, we’re just going to distribute those. We then learned the USDA Food boxes. Once we got ahold the USDA Food boxes now we’re coming with food as well as PP care packages, and the demand really Shut up. Our first week out. This is honestly true. Anyone who’s there will tell you, we had three semi tractor trailers, over 7000 boxes of USDA Food boxes, MPP care packages. We started we got there. Six o’clock that morning. Where were you? We were at Dallas skyline ranch. Okay, we started seven o’clock that morning. We didn’t leave there to nine o’clock that night, because we were committed to making sure that we served every single car, and we needed to make sure we serve every box. Because again, these are perishable food items that we could take anywhere else. So we need to make sure we serve them all that day. That was the first one. So then, of course, the next week, we had a truck lined up, we only had one truck lined up. Thankfully that time we only had one. But we did that every single week from May of 20. From June of 2020. Up until May of 2021. Well, we serve on average anywhere from 1500 to 2000 families, food boxes and PBE care packages. wonderful thing


you did, man. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But you know,


I look at it this way. It was I was a recipient of it as a kid growing up in a single parent home in West Allis, there were many times when my mom would be in line similar to that and bringing home boxes similar to those to us. So it was just a way of us to get back to our community and make sure that folks had the things they need to navigate through the pandemic


outstanding. So just prior to this happening in the year 2017, you were called to Austin, to the Texas House representatives to be recognized. I don’t know if you saw this guy over here down there, because he used to hang out on those parts. Not for the return. Yeah, not for the same reason as you were there for I don’t suspect, but you got called the floor. That’s pretty cool.


It was extremely cool. What happened in that essence of well, the year prior, I had received the Dallas black Chamber of Commerce gives out what they call the annual quest for success award. And that award is given to the entrepreneurs who are doing well in business, but also doing good deeds in the community. And again, they recognize us for the work that we were doing on the HIV front. So then say representative Tony rose, invited me down to the Capitol. And she wanted to recognize not only recognize the quest for success, but she also wanted to bring recognition to the work that we have been doing in the HIV space. So she did did had a proclamation and everything wrote up and read about it had me stand up in the park with the the gavel and everything, and just read off the work that we had been doing. And it was a tremendous honor. Absolutely. All the time I’d ever I’ve been to the Capitol before, but only time I’d ever actually been in the actual legislative chambers, as


they called you yet.


Now, I’ve been talking to representative Goldman, but he He just won’t return my calls. So on that, I mean, we know that you’re not doing guys like you, they don’t do this for that kind of thing. Right? We know that. About the girl, you know, growing up in West Dallas and stuff like that, what what’s something, you know, whether it be getting up and looking in the mirror and saying, I’m doing the right things, I’m pretty aligned with this stuff. But what is something that kind of keeps having guys like you do things like this?


I guess really knowing it’s a couple of things. First of all, knowing how desperately we need it, again, because there were times where if my mom didn’t have those resources to go to, I don’t know, how we would have made it at that time. You know, that’s I’ve never asked her. But I don’t know how we would have made it. But then the other part to that is really saying the gratitude that the people have when you help them those who are in need. And understanding most of the folks who we were serving when we were doing this throughout the pandemic. These are folks who never ever suspected or never thought they would be in a food line. And they would tell us that because we would from time to time now that we’d always want to stick a camera in someone’s face. But we did want to kind of know, you always want to kind of gauge in the work that you’re doing and what the response is for the folks and could you do he doing it better? So we would always ask them, you know, and many of them would say, I never thought I’d be in this position. You know, my husband passed away recently. And you know, for whatever reason, he was a provider and I don’t have other means of income. I just need some things to help make ends meet. So we found ourselves a lot of times helping folks who were in that situation. So it was the gratitude. I think that’s it, you know what, we’re helping to provide a need, not someone who’s going to always be in this position, but you helping to bridge the gap until they can get to that next best place.


Well, and this may be a no brainer question because it’s certainly sounds like it but in turn, I guess that has made you a more great For person as well,


you better believe it. Yeah. Yeah, it’s Yeah.


So one of your messages you that you use, often you’re one of your motivational pitches is being positive and not being negative. So if you could indulge me for one few seconds, look my partner to my right, you could give him a little bit of, I’m getting there amid gesture, and maybe I’ll find this place because meaning don’t like, you know, yes, I don’t know if he quite understands that message, but I’m really hoping you can help me here. So I


just maintain a positive attitude to say, you know what, man, I mean, you’ve got to dig in your heels, you got to do whatever it takes to get beyond this moment, and much brighter days are coming. And I focus more on the brighter days coming ahead than any darkness that I may be going through at this moment, sir. And it’s it served me well,


you know, it’s funny to say that I was sitting at my son’s football game yesterday, and there was a grandmother sitting there and she had this beautiful gold bracelet that on there, it says this too shall pass. Right? That means he kind of typifies what you just said, that’s it.


And I think we’ve all I mean, whether we consciously think about it in that way or not. I think that none of us would be where we are today. If we constantly walked around with a negative mindset, you know, because it would keep you in a dark place to where you can’t move forward. We’re sitting here today, because each of us have been through something in our lives. And we you know what, we made a decision to work past that to get to a better place.


But some of us like the hibernation in that negative place at times.


Yeah, but unfortunately, you’re not going to get far with cookies on his. He has the word cookies on the back of his laptop here. You can do a bit of negative cookies, man.


We’ll talk about that after the show. That’s funny, but Well, you’re given a great guest. Hold on a second, but I’m not a guest. I do wish there’s more people like you out there. There are lots of good guys out there. We know. But you’re one of the good guys, you have a you have a voice for radio and a face for TV. So you got a cool demeanor about you. We appreciate what you do for the world. We’re honored to meet you before we go our last.


But real quick, how do we what are we trying to accomplish here? And how do we folks find you


man? I’m glad you asked. But that is a great follow up question. Thank you two things, what we’re looking to accomplish with Fort Worth, we just read the Chris Hill foundation just recently partnered with Tarrant County Public Health to really, again, we’re not going to tell folks one way or another whether or not they should be vaccinated. But what we are going to do is try and correct the misinformation. what we believe is if folks have the correct information, they can then make the decision for themselves and their families, what’s the best choice. But as a guy who’s in communications, and then someone who happens to have a foundation, we have seen so much misinformation from the CDC and others as it relates to this vaccine. So we’re partly we’re grateful to be partnering with this, Texas, Clara County Public Health, to be able to provide some sense of most of the most accurate and up to date information to folks as it relates to the vaccine to allow them to make that choice. So we’re going to be coming to Fort Worth with that information. And we’re excited to be able to do that.


We look forward to that. So And finally, before we go, Chris, we ask our guests, aside from your family affairs, children, wives, everything that entails family, what was the best day of your whole life?


This may sound like a cliche, but really it was when I discovered what it is I’m designed what I was created to do. And that really was to be able to encourage and empower others. And I really do believe that in my heart that that’s that’s what I’m here for. I’m encouraged by nature. And so thankfully. So once I get a minister Tell me one time that God gave you media before he gave you ministry in and I’m grateful for that, because I don’t know how to get the message out to the masses. And yeah, so because


reply we ever had, and maybe the best answer we ever had. So it’s a tough, tough question, but you nailed it.


On the other side, asking the tough questions. That was a tough


personal foundation. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you guys. Thanks, Chris.