He is the best friend you didn’t know you needed — at 3 o’clock in the morning, getting you past that pesky overnight construction taking out the right lane on the Schuylkill.
The overnight guy now reporting on traffic for the Philadelphia area also happens to have one of the most recognizable names in local broadcast history.
Malcolm Poindexter III is the son of Malcolm Poindexter Jr., who started on the air in 1965 as one of KYW Newsradio’s first reporters who later became a fixture on Channel 3. The elder Poindexter died in 2010.
With a degree in English literature from the University of Maryland and after a successful career as a DJ, Malcolm Poindexter III has been at KYW Radio for a little more than a year. He reports on local accidents, construction, and other traffic tie-ups on the overnight shift, promising all the information you need to get around the region, six times an hour on the twos.
The job is as difficult as you might imagine, with reports pouring in from social media, dozens of traffic cameras, and phone calls to local police and other first-responders — not to mention calls from those loyal phone tipsters — all of which Poindexter has to turn into something understandable yet comprehensive “in less than 10 minutes.”
Poindexter spoke with The Inquirer about getting reacquainted with the city he grew up in, making traffic reports interesting even when not much is going on, and rejoining the KYW family where his father became an accomplished and well-respected newsman.
It happens pretty often, actually. Which is a blessing. Oh, yeah, I do get some recognition. But it is really great.
It really just warms my heart, just makes me feel so good to be continuing the legacy that he created.
And it’s just really great that every day it really brings back great memories and just adds to the legacy, I think.
Well, I always had it kind of in the back of my mind I wanted to pursue it because, in college, I did take a bit of journalism but I didn’t finish journalism. I finished with an English degree. So it was really kind of like I wanted to do it, but I wanted to kind of find my way.
It’s really just producing for the reporter on duty. It’s a lot of outreach — to the police, to PennDot, to watching the cameras, to being on top of the social-media aspect.
But I’ll tell you, my father always used to say you got to know the roads. It’s really all come back to me after a little bit of getting acclimated with the roads, to really be able to speak intelligently and convey the problems to the listener.
Basically it is. It’s a one-man show. I’m always looking at the jam cams myself and monitoring TweetDeck, whether it’s a fire in Nicetown that might create a closure and following up — even calling the Fire Department or the Police Department.
Sometimes they’re a bit tight-lipped about giving up information, but you find the right person. And I’ve kind of gotten friendly with a few of the officers and folks with the fire departments.
Really, it’s been an important part of my life, for I’ve been doing it almost 30 years now, to be honest. I’ve had that love of music, and I got it from my grandfather and my father.
Being a DJ really got started in college. I was on WMUC at the University of Maryland, I had a specialty show on Friday nights — a great slot — and then I would go DJ at some of the clubs in Georgetown and in D.C. after that. It was so good back then, and I could deal with a lot of the record labels, getting so much access to great music.
There was a real blessing in that I really enjoyed that for the four years I was there, and then that just kind of parlayed into work when I came back to Philadelphia, doing clubs, bar circuits, all different types of events, specialty events, weddings and things like that.