Without “Tell Me More,” What’s More?

[Photo: Tell Me More’s staff. Credit: Ammad Omar/NPR]

Come August, NPR is shutting down “Tell Me More with Michel Martin,” the network’s only program grappling with the news of the day through specifically through the inclusion of diverse, multicultural voices. With the cancellation of “News and Notes” in 2009 and “The Tavis Smiley Show” soon after, “Tell Me More’s” end means that no program on NPR will supported by the African American Public Radio Consortium or any other minority organization of this kind. This has sparked a range of disappointed responses, ranging from the National Association of Black Journalists’ memo “Concern About Diversity at NPR,” to a full-out moratorium on charitable donations to NPR from the National Black Church Initiative and its members.

I’m also disappointed. For many years, public radio was my main source of news and even entertainment. But in recent years, my listening has dwindled, particularly as I met more people working in public radio as “innovators” or “technologists” and was unpleasantly surprised by the homogeneity of this group, a homogeneity that I thought no longer plagued the liberal domain of public radio newsrooms. Eventually, “Tell Me More” became the only public radio show I could listen to in its entirety without feeling somehow excluded or overlooked. I doubt–no, I know–that the NPR diversity initiatives “Code Switch” and “The Race Card Project” don’t have the same impact as a dedicated, multicultural, daily news show. And even though there are many media outlets and shows devoted to minority issues, few examine these issues with as much breadth, depth, and as, as Michel Martin points out, as “calmly, usually, and with civility, always,” as “Tell Me More.”

So now that “Tell Me More” is ending, I think we, the fans, need to put our heads together to figure out other sources where we can somehow approximate the “Tell Me More” audio fix. Where do we get more? Can the incredible “Tell Me More” staff help us figure it out? I’d love to know what about favorite audio news sources from both the staff and listeners.

I’m rusty on news podcast listening, but since it’s easier to find diverse voices hosting podcasts, the podscasts below are an incomplete list of promising places to start. Please send or tweet me your recommendations, I would love to know them, especially as “Tell Me More” winds to a close.

  • The Root Podcast: Reporters from The Root are regulars on Tell Me More.
  • The Read and other Loud Speakers Network podcasts: Has some of the “manteresting” gossip of the “Barbershop” segment.
  • PRI: America Abroad: Since Tell Me More covers both domestic and international diversity issues.
  • Slate’s Double X podcast: A possible replacement for the “Beauty Shop” fix.
  • Sound and Fury: Angry Asian Podcast: Mixing up the flavor. I particularly enjoyed the interview with Jeff Yang, a “Tell Me More” regular.
  • Black Girls Talking: Another possible replacement for the “Beauty Shop” fix.
  • BBC Media Show: Has had a few frank discussion about the inclusion of minorities in media and the workforce.
  • Yo, is this Racist?: I heard about the blog on “Tell Me More,” and he has a podcast, too!
  • NPR: Latino USA: A broad news magazine hosted by Maria Hinojosa, a veteran journalist like Michel Martin, but with a specific focus, as the title proclaims, on Latino USA.
  • Afropop Worldwide: A very wide-ranging, very fun program on the African diaspora in all kinds of music. Hosted by the charming and venerable Georges Collinet.
  • WBEZ Worldview: Again, since Tell Me More covers both domestic and international diversity issues.
  • Latin Pulse / Pulso Latino: A video news podcast out of American University, down the street from NPR.
  • BBC: Africa Today: The BBC has so many channels and sub-networks, some of which are exclusively devoted to former colonies and colonized regions of the UK. And since the UK colonized many countries, there is a lot of diversity in BBC programs!
  • Addicted To Race Podcast (not recently updated): I haven’t listened to this one yet, but the name says a lot.


I look forward to becoming a listener, and maybe even a fan, of the podcasts above. But with this cursory search of multicultural news podcasts, I now wonder about the possibility of “Tell Me More” or “Barbershop” continuing as a podcast, or even of “Tell Me More” being a once-a-week on-air show? I’m holding out hope here!