Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traffic Reporter a Chameleon, Shades Voice to Suit Audience

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traffic Reporter a Chameleon, Shades Voice to Suit Audience

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The bumpin' in the background from a Tupac Shakur song mixed in with a few car horns is Chris Clark's cue to change his on-air persona.

Donning black headphones atop his sandy brown hair, his head starts bobbing to the beat of the gangsta rap as he pulls up the microphone.

"What's up Crash D?" asks the host of the Hot 97.5 morning show.

"Ooooh, lookout south side, traffic's backed up ALLLLL the way to my mamma's house in Miami," he howls. "75, 85, 400 from the north, still tight 'til you get inside the perimeter. Good news tho' -- the Connector northbound, that wreck in front of the Ted, SEE YA, is outta the way."

To most listeners of the urban station in this city of perpetually jammed traffic, Clark's slangfilled reports fit in perfectly. But many of them don't realize that Clark is white.

And as soon as he's off the air, the homeboy mannerisms disappear. The bobbing to the beat stops and he sits up straight and still.

A push of a button, he's back on the air for another 15-second spot. This time as Crash Clark on 99X, where Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots are among the preferred tunes.

"75 southbound at Highway 5, a cement mixer is off to the right. Things are pretty heavy in the area. Get it? Cement mixer, heavy? Ha! I slay me," Clark bellows through the mic, sounding like a preppy Ivy Leaguer. "You've got new trouble in Cobb County, Chastain near 75, two separate wrecks, one in each direction -- go figure."

Clark, 33, said he began his stint with the urban 97.5 four years ago as a fill-in reporter during Freaknik, an annual gathering of black college students that can clog downtown streets for hours.

But the very straight-laced persona he uses on an all-sports station, Christian radio and public access station didn't quite fit in with the hip-hop disc jockeys at WHTA. …

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