Most Valuable Local Radio: Esther Armah
- NYC 12/21/2012 by John Nichols (The Nation)

Announced by The Nation online, this article will appear in the January 7-14, 2013 edition of The Nation:

The Progressive Honor Roll of 2012

The Nation’s annual Most Valuable Progressives Honor Roll has been going strong for the better part of a decade, and its alumni are moving up. Elizabeth Warren is now a senator-elect. Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Two of our most valuable state legislators were elected to Congress on November 6: Wisconsin’s Mark Pocan and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. Ed Schultz has a prime-time show on MSNBC. The Dream Act dreamers spoke from the podium of the Democratic National Convention, and President Obama and Vice President Biden hailed their courage. But after a long election season and a hopeful outcome, there is still work to be done. Here are some of the Americans doing it.

Most Valuable Local Radio: Esther Armah

Raised in England and Africa as the daughter of a Ghanaian diplomat, Armah came to New York’s WBAI after establishing herself as a reporter for BBC Radio and BBC World Service and a presenter for the BBC TV series Black Britain.

Internationally recognized for her explorations of issues relating to the African diaspora, she could easily have focused on international affairs. Instead, Armah devoted her show, Wakeup Call, to working people in New York, examining persistent poverty, violence and gentrification.

She’s made morning drive time an emotionally engaged forum for discussions on race, gender, and economic and social justice.

This was especially the case after Superstorm Sandy, when Armah and her fellow hosts scrambled not just to keep the station on-air but to reveal the storm’s hidden devastation.

That’s what local radio should do, and it’s just one of the reasons that WBAI—a Pacifica station briefly forced off the air by Sandy’s flooding of lower Manhattan—deserves support.

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Esther Armah


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