Michael Martinez

Washington DC

There are times when a radio station needs a little levity.

I can never predict exactly when I’m going to need the cowboy hat that I keep in my desk area. I just kind of know the moments when I see them.

The Team Kojo Cowboy Hat ™ was procured when Kojo visited Colorado for the Democratic National Convention in 2008. It sat in his office, unused, for years.

One day in the winter of 2013, I decided to pick it up and wear it around the old WAMU 88.5 building on Brandywine Street, just for kicks. It’s stiff and white, the kind of thing a good guy in a Western film would wear. I can’t say it made me feel like a hero, though, because pretty much everybody who saw me wearing it laughed at me.

But I liked that I was drawing smiles from people. I took a photo later that day with Kojo, I in the hat and he wearing one of his trademark berets. We looked like characters from a buddy cop movie. When I posted the image to Facebook and watched the “likes” rolling in, I knew I was on to something: That goofy hat makes people happy.

Since then, I’ve broken out the official Team Kojo Cowboy Hat ™ any time I feel the mood in the building needs a pick me up. It lightened up the atmosphere on the final day of broadcasting at Brandywine Street, and during the stress of the station’s big move to Connecticut Avenue later that day. When our D.C. primary night coverage dragged on late into the night last spring, I donned the cowboy hat in the control room. The cheap chuckles and the extra sips of caffeine gave us all the positive energy we needed to continue the broadcast as we rode on past midnight.

The Boston Red Sox once famously made the phrase “cowboy up” a bullpen mantra. As an Orioles fan, I’d never suggest that our radio station borrow or copy anything from the Sox. I’d rather think about what the late Hunter S. Thompson once said: When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. In our case, a weird cowboy hat sometimes brings out our best work on the air. Turning pro, indeed.

Originally posted on The Kojo Nnamdi Show Blog on occasion of the Worn Stories segment, available here: http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2015-01-29/worn_stories_sartorial_memoirs

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