New public radio show convenes diverse panel for different take on events

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A new show from the African-American Public Radio Consortium examines issues through the views of artists, activists, academics and journalists — all of them women of color.



Hosted by longtime broadcaster Esther Armah, The Spin now airs on WNAA in Greensboro, N.C.; a digital channel of WWFM in Trenton, N.J.; and the Internet station Radio Phoenix. It also airs on commercial radio in Accra, Ghana, and Armah hopes it will find a home on London airwaves as well. Stations in Atlanta and Chicago have also expressed interest.

Armah formerly worked for BBC Radio 4 and Pacifica Radio’s New York station, WBAI. At WBAI, she hosted the daily morning talk show WakeUp Call until August 2013. The Spin started as a weekly 30-minute segment on that show.

To expand the show, Armah and AAPRC turned to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and raised $10,000 to cover six months of production costs. The producers are looking for additional funding.

Each episode of The Spin draws three panelists from a roster of 20 women of color with varying professional backgrounds. Half of each show is devoted to one major topic, with discussion of two other subjects for 10 minutes each. “The intention is to bring those unheard perspectives and unheard voices to a big, broad audience,” Armah said.

As a self-proclaimed “political news junkie,” Armah regularly watched Meet the Press, CNN and Face the Nation and was struck by how most commentators were white men. By creating a panel with only women of color who are not only African-American but also Indian, Caribbean, Latina and other African nationalities, Armah wanted to create what she called a “counter-narrative to offset the dominant narrative.”

“The idea was that scholars have a way of speaking about the world and journalists have a way of speaking about the world, activists have a way of viewing the world, and artists have a way of entering the world,” she added. “And in order to offer as broad a professional perspective as possible, I wanted to mix that group of people up.”

For the pilot, which aired in December, Armah invited writer and filmmaker dream hampton, Fordham University political science professor Christina Greer and writer Asha Bandele to discuss Nelson Mandela, the media’s interpretation of relationships between historic leaders and their partners, and the national fight for a living wage. Betty Davis’s “They Say I’m Different” added musical flavor.

“I’m a global journalist. I always have been,” Armah said about her editorial vision for the show.  “I always have been specifically interested in building a diaspora media pipeline that connects the States with Africa and with London, and I’m very excited that it’s my show that’s enabling me to do that.”

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