Teshima Walker, executive producer of NPR’s Tell Me More, died Aug. 16 after a two-year battle with colon cancer. She was 44.
Walker, a native of Chicago’s South Side who held degrees from Tennessee State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, spent more than a decade in public radio. In 2000 she was selected as a journalism fellow for All Things Considered after working as a producer for WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight. While at WBEZ, she won the 1999 Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism.
After producing for The Tavis Smiley Show and News And Notes, Walker briefly left NPR in 2006 to become assistant program director with talk network Syndication One. She rejoined the organization as a senior supervising producer for Michel Martin’s newsmagazine, helping to shape the program’s mission to explore rarely heard perspectives among Americans.
“She cared very much about creating and working on a show that represented America in all its richness, so the kinds of guests, the kinds of people she hired, really aligned with that mission,” Ellen McDonnell, NPR’s executive editor of news programming, told Current. “She pushed people hard because she believed in them, but also she could see the potential in people.”
Walker became e.p. of Tell Me More in 2011. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly after her promotion. For the first year of treatment, she stayed on staff at reduced hours, continuing to work on the show. When her cancer returned in summer 2012, Walker left to seek treatment at the University of Chicago.
She is survived by her husband, writer and occasional TMM segment moderator Jimi Izrael; her parents William and Vonceal; and her sister Eureva.