AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Arlean Edwards changed the game in the Augusta community when her show, The Talking It Up Show, first hit the radio waves in 2006 by giving audiences some “real talk,” but also providing love, light, and laughter with her co-hosts Tommy Ingram and Marlon Stokes. After a little hiatus, The Talking It Up Show is back, but Edwards has a newfound mission when it comes to making a difference our community, and she sits down with WJBF Digital along with Tommy Ingram to explain.

Welcome to WJBF DIGITAL. I have to explain why this interview is special to the WJBF audience. Arlean and Tommy were the first people to give me my first interview on the radio.

ARLEAN: Are you serious?

TOMMY: I remember that.

ARLEAN: I remember the interview, but you were such a natural that I wouldn’t have thought that it was the first.

And also, you all are the ones who coined the T. for me because I was going my Karlton Clay at the time, and after you all found out my middle name, you said, you have to go by “Karlton T. Clay” from now, so that’s where that came from.

ARLEAN: That’s amazing. The [Talking It Up] show just celebrated 17 years. So, that was almost 16 or 17 years ago. Look at you!

This interview is special because I wanted to give you your flowers while you are here. I am here because of you all. You all are a part of the foundation. So, thank you so much for believing in me.

Now, let’s get into it… The Talking It Up Show is back, but before we get into the now, Arlean, you have a very interesting story. You’re from New Orleans, and then, you came to Augusta. Can you please tell us your story?

ARLEAN: I’m a Katrina evacuee. August 29th, 2005 is when Katrina devastated New Orleans, and it wasn’t a direct hit. So, can you imagine what could’ve happened if it would’ve been a direct hit? It was a direct hit in Gulf Port, Mississippi, but I meant, the city flooded. 6 feet of water in the house. I watched my jeep go under water the first night as the storm passed, and we were evacuated to Fort Worth, Texas. Jackson Massey sponsored an airline ticket for my daughter and I to come here. She was 14, and now she’s 32. Garfield Turner was the recipient of a broadcast for a show that I used to produce for. He heard that I was here, and he said, “You need to do a talk show.” I was like, “Uh… no.” I’m used to being behind the scenes and not in front of the mic. And he said, “But you’ll be good at it.” I’m like, “Good at what? I don’t think I want to do that.” You may not know this… I’m shy. Extremely shy. And he would not relent. Every day he was calling, “I think you’ll be good at it.” I said, “I don’t have any sponsors.” He says, “Well, you can’t get sponsors if you’re not on the air.” So, February 3rd, 2006 was when The Talking It Up Show launched. I ran into Marlon Stokes at a concert, and I said, “Would you come and do the show with me?” He said, “Yeah, I’m down.” Then, we ran into Tommy, and I asked him If he would want to be a part of the show, and he said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure, sure, sure.” And there were times in the studio that we would be laughing so much because of him, and I would be saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe…” in the sense that I was laughing that hard. And now 17 years later, we’re back at it.

Tommy, how do you feel about The Talking It Show being back?

TOMMY: I love it. It’s an opportunity to connect again with the community, to talk about the Lord, and to talk about what’s going on in the community. It was a great big thing that we were doing. We felt like we’re no different than The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was a powerful show. We got a chance to watch everyone from that period grow. We’re excited about it. So, to come back is a great thing and great opportunity again for us to get there more excited this time. When Arlean called me and said, “Let’s do it.” I said, “Let’s go. Let’s do it.”

The Talking It Up Show has always been a warm environment, and you’ve always loved the community and it showed through the show.

ARLEAN: We made it our mission to give a platform to people like Marlon Stokes, who had just started M.D. Stokes and Victorious Praise, Joyce McCaster, Shawna Dominque, and the list goes on and on and on. When we were introduced to the talent in that’s in Augusta, we were like, “Yeah, we need to showcase that.” Every nonprofit executive director and program director we’ve interviewed, and now that we’ve come back, they’re reaching out to us saying they want to re-connect. That’s really what this is about. Augusta is a beautiful city; an amazing community. Commissioner [Francine] Scott (District 9) was on with us before saying over 50% of people in Augusta are homeowners. The city where I came from – only 30% of the people in the city were homeowners. So, I think that being a native of Augusta sometimes you don’t realize what you have, but for people like me who come from outside, I’m like, “Oh, my God. This is such an amazing place. I think I’ll live here.”

Well, we’re glad you’re here, and The Talking It Up Show is show is back Wednesdays at 3 PM on WKZK The Spirit.

ARLEAN: That’s who gave us our start, and guess what? We didn’t know what we were doing. I think the button to turn on the mics was red. I knew to press the red button. (Laughs)

TOMMY: I thought she knew. I definitely wasn’t going to touch anything. There were buttons everywhere. (Laughs) I ain’t touching nothing.

ARLEAN: I didn’t even tell him I didn’t know. Just press the red button. And now, we are producing. We are recording, producing, and doing all that just because we were given the opportunity to “press the red button.”

Now, Arlean, you are the CEO and Founder of Kingdom Connections. Can you tell us about that?

ARLEAN: Kingdom Connections – Brand Management and Development. I think that what we did when we connected with you… you had a brand, and we helped in someway help you realize that you are the brand. Even “Karlton T.,” that’s the brand. So, we are doing that for other individuals that really don’t know how to navigate that with a brand, how to market it, how to promote it, and opportunities for them. So, that’s what Kingdom Connections is. With Kingdom, we’re talking about the Kingdom of God, and we’re doing it in a Godly way. Not looking to make profit off of your talent, but to show you a way to make profit off of your talent.

Now, is there anything else that you two want to share with us?

ARLEAN: I’m sitting here next to the president of the Student Veterans of America.

TOMMY: Yes, I am the Student Veterans of America president of Augusta Technical College. Student Veterans of America is an organization that connects veterans that go to school and their dependents to resources that help them to continue their education. We believe that educating our community solves and stops crimes. So, we are interested in educating the whole community here in Augusta. We have some very intelligent young people that’s coming into the school right now. We want them to be able to connect with not just veterans but other students in order to come back to school. As I am the Student Veterans of America president of Augusta Tech, I found out that anybody 65 years or older can go to school for free. So, they have benefits at Augusta Tech: grants and PELL grants. If you get good grades, you get paid for that through the HOPE grant. So, we want to encourage our whole community to come back to school. We have Paine College, Augusta University, and I’m of course at Augusta Tech, but any of those colleges would love to have y’all come out and be a part of that.

ARLEAN: Speaking of veterans, that’s the education piece. I know that the largest percentage of persons that are homeless are veterans. So, I bought a house. When I bought the house, it looked like a horror film. So, I decided to renovate it in order to house 10 to 12 veterans. That’s known as Bright Eyes Veterans Housing Initiative.  The Men on Mission at First Baptist of Augusta… they come every Tuesday, and they help with the renovation. The Augusta Dream Center has gotten volunteers to come on serve day, and the list goes on: Bridgestone, Solvay, Giving Your Best Partners with WJBF. They have come out, rolled up their sleeves, and gotten down and dirty with us. It’s just the right thing to do. When this project is finished, Bright Eyes will be going to Waynesboro for the Veterans Ranch, and we will have a Veterans Village in Augusta. So that’s my mission for the rest of my life: to make sure that we house and take care of our veterans.

I also want to mention an event that we’re having on May 7th. The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association found us online, and they said they want to do a fundraiser for the Bright Eyes Veterans Housing Initiative. It’s called “The Dirty Birdy.” This is REAL TALK. I was invited to do a presentation for their organization. I’m 5 feet tall – did I say that? (Laughs) At any rate, I leave church, and I’m going to the Combat Veterans Association where they meet. When I get out of the car, I see all of these big tall people with their biker outfits on. I’m like, “What the what have I gotten myself into?” So, I walk through the door following the person that was ahead of me. And you know how you walk in the room and everybody turn around? And I was like, “Uh oh, uh oh.” So, I asked for Commander Hanson, and they said, “That’s the guy at the end of the bar.” I think he was 6’3”, and he made me feel even shorter. So, I did the presentation, and unanimously they voted to support Bright Eyes Veterans Housing Initiative and our efforts in supporting veterans. And they’re mission is Veterans Supporting Veterans.

Thank you again for all that you are doing. Once again, can you tell us where we can listen to The Talking It Up Show?

ARLEAN: You can listen live on; that’s to stream. Or you can tune in to 103.7 FM/1600 AM at 3 PM every Wednesday. This guy [Tommy] is trying to get us to go to 5 days. WHEW!

TOMMY: We can do it!