With his Gucci suits and waist-long dreadlocks, MSNBC's Internet analyst comes across as more sleek than geek, although, he says, "I'm definitely more in touch with my inner nerd than my inner rock star." Still, as the executive director of the Web's most heavily trafficked African-American online community, BlackPlanet.com, Omar Wasow has attracted his share of groupies among members who use his site to learn about and discuss black culture. One special admirer is Oprah
Winfrey, whom Wasow taught to navigate the Web in an Oxygen-network series called Oprah Goes Online
. "I just love Omar—and his dreadlocks," says Winfrey. "He's the best Internet teacher in the world because he was able to teach me how to surf the Net and I am truly technologically challenged." Computer skills came easy to Wasow, 29, whose parents, Eileen, an early childhood education teacher, and Bernard, an economics professor, bought him a Commodore Vic-20 at age 11. "He was glued to the screen morning to evening," says his mom. "He was obsessed with learning how to program on his own." The 6-ft. Wasow, who lives in Brooklyn, is now focused on a new interest: his girlfriend of six months, Mala Htun, 31, a political science professor at New York City's The New School. "I'm trying to be led more by my heart than my head lately," he says. That translates into romantic dinners, weekend trips and, of course, flowers. But, he says, "I'll only order them over the Internet. I couldn't do it any other way."