Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Derek McGinty: Not Rush. Not Ollie. Not Larry King. A Fresh Voice for Talk Radio

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Derek McGinty: Not Rush. Not Ollie. Not Larry King. A Fresh Voice for Talk Radio

Article excerpt

Derek McGinty is currently best known in

Washington D.C. where he hosts a

radio talk show that is a blend of lively back-fence chit-chat

and lofty conversations in the marketplace of ideas.

Teams of local political pundits, computer jocks,

movie buffs and sports writers appear regularly to

shoot the breeze about what's happening in their fields.

His thoughtful preparation and civility draw such

notable interview guests as Vice President Al Gore,

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, novelist Walter

Moseley and former joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman

Gen. Colin Powell.

Now Washington DC's homegrown secret is about

to burst on the national scene. Since July 1, his show

has been heard nationally on National Public Radio.

And this summer McGinty began hosting a talk show

for public television while being courted by all the

national television networks.

McGinty, 36, holds a bachelor's degree in

journalism from American University and spent years

covering local news for Washington radio stations

before getting his own news show at Howard

University's radio station and then his own talk show

on American University's radio station, WAMU.

In this interview, McGinty

explores what it means to be a Black

journalist in today's environment with

Black Issues senior writer Ronald A. Taylor.

Are talk shows becoming one of the nation's

primary sources for information?

I think they are for a lot of folk

and I don't think that's necessarily a

good thing. I don't think most talk

shows necessarily provide great

information because they are so based

on somebody's opinion. My talk show

is a little different in that my opinion

very rarely drives the discussion.

But a lot of people like talk shows

because they are easy to listen to and

you can pick up information without

having to put in the work of reading

the newspaper. The newspaper is by

far the superior source of information.

A lot of people say you dazzle them by

the breadth of the subject areas that

you touch on. Where do you fit into the

spectrum of talk show hosts?

This show is kind of unusual in

what it does. In commercial talk radio,

program directors have decided that

viewpoints are what bring in listeners.

Controversy, conflict, people getting

on the phone and arguing and

disagreeing. That's what people want,

not just a calm discussion of ideas.

I'm in public radio, so that gives

me the luxury of being able to do it a

different way. It's almost not a talk

show in the sense that we have come

to think of it today, as in Rush

Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy. it's

more of a public affairs show, but that

sounds so boring that people don't

want to use the term.

It seems that a lot of your guests

are academics and scholars. Is

that by design?

Yes, I think a good number of them

are, and that's somewhat by design

because I don't like necessarily having

debates. From my perspective you get

a much deeper understanding if you get

two scholars, two people who

understand something -- maybe from

slightly different viewpoints -- who

can explain rather than two folk going

back and forth citing statistics that

nobody can verify.

What's the drawback of interviewing

scholars on the air?

Well, sometimes they can be a

little ivory tower-ish. I have nothing

against scholars, and scholars are great

guests, but at times you have folk who

are not on the ground dealing with the

issues that you are talking about. …

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