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Rochelle Riley Takes on a New Platform: Radio

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“Hello, Detroit, and all parts east and west of our beloved city.” With those words on Sept. 5, Rochelle Riley, the 2017 recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Ida B. Wells Award, launched a daily show on Motor City’s only urban talk radio station. The longtime columnist for the Detroit Free Press has frequently appeared on National Public Radio, MSBNC and other media. Now she sets the agenda for an hour-long show on 910AM Superstation and, as she told MGJR, “the buck stops at my mic.”

“As a guest, I could have my say, contribute my small part to a conversation, then get up (or hang up) and walk away,” she said. “With my show – one with my name on it – I’m responsible for guiding the entire conversation, leading people to end their contributions to make sure we don’t run out of clock, and remain keenly aware that, at the end of an hour, what is produced is what I made of it. If it was a good conversation, I succeeded. If people were bored, it was my fault.”

In her debut, Riley told listeners: “The show is simple. “We’re going to talk about news, culture, city affairs, politics and what’s happening globally, nationally and locally – and everything is local.” In her opening weeks she has focused on the renaissance of Detroit, a city that, after its Motown legacy, is perhaps best known as the largest American municipality to declare bankruptcy. Since that nadir in 2013, the city has been in an emergent state. On her show, Riley has been talking to people from all walks of life who are committed to building a dynamic city that works for all its residents. So far, she said, the experience has been “both fun and daunting.”

“The conversations are real, but can be incisive or fun and, hopefully, help. But, as with live TV, you can’t take it back. So, one must be aware that it’s a conversation people are watching.” Tens of thousands of people – including people outside the Detroit area who listen to or watch the live show and podcasts on line.

Riley, whose book, The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery, will be published in February, has no shortage of ideas for the radio show. They include shining a spotlight on women and on the city’s 47,000 black-owned businesses. While it’s currently “The Rochelle Riley Show,” she has launched a contest to determine a new name, promising the winner lunch with her “at one of Detroit’s best restaurants.”

 

 

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