WMU Home > About WMU > WMU News

WMU News

NPR host Diane Rehm to speak at Bernhard Center

Sept. 14, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Diane Rehm, host of a popular National Public Radio talk show that attracts the world's top newsmakers, will give a free public lecture at Western Michigan University at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center.

Rehm was originally scheduled to speak at WMU last spring but her visit was postponed until fall. No tickets are required for the event, but seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and audience members are encouraged to arrive early.

Rehm's talk show, which airs internationally and is heard by an estimated 1.65 million listeners each week, has been described by Newsweek magazine as one of the most interesting talk shows in the country. Guests on "The Diane Rehm Show" routinely include leading authors, artists, and politicians of the day.

Named by Washingtonian magazine as one of the "100 Most Powerful Women" in the nation's capital, Rehm is known as much for her signature voice and interview style as she is for the caliber of her show's guests. Recent guests have ranged from Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Sandra Day O'Connor, Hillary Clinton and Desmond Tutu to Julie Andrews, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie and Maya Angelou.

She plans to speak about her background and career as a homemaker and mother; her 25 years as host of a daily NPR talk show; the political, foreign policy, economic and medical issues of the day; her voice difficulties; and her take on the Kalamazoo Promise. She is expected to take questions from the audience as time permits.

Rehm's visit to Kalamazoo is sponsored by the WMU Graduate Student Advisory Committee. Originally slated to speak in March, she was forced to reschedule her visit to April because of an illness, according to Erich Sommerfeldt, former member of GSAC and coordinator of Rehm's visit.

The event was postponed again to its current date when it became evident that Rehm would still not be well enough to travel.

"Unfortunately, she was still susceptible to the lingering effects of the pneumonia and was forced to cancel all public appearances for the months of March and April," says Sommerfeldt. "Given that the spring semester would have been over by that time, GSAC decided to postpone the event till this fall."

"We are thrilled that Diane is coming to WMU," says Rosana Alsaud, chair of GSAC. "Given her experience in public radio broadcasting and her intimate knowledge of the American political scene, we believe that she will excite both the academic community here at WMU as well as her listeners in the Kalamazoo community. We hope that Diane's visit will inaugurate the GSAC speaker series, which will be aimed at bringing individuals of national prominence to WMU."

Rehm's show began in 1979 as a local morning talk show on NPR member station WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C., where Rehm herself started out as a station volunteer. The program was launched nationally by NPR in 1995, and in 1996, Rehm became the first broadcast journalist ever to win the Betty Furness Media Service Award from the Consumer Federation of America. She also is a 1995 recipient of the Radio Leadership Award from American Women in Radio and Television, and in 2006, was the first recipient of the Urbino Press Award.

In addition, Rehm has established herself as a writer, with two autobiographies to her credit. One is "Finding My Voice," which recalls her struggle with spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological condition that causes strained, difficult speech. The book is now in its fourth printing. Diagnosed in 1998, Rehm became a public spokesperson for the rare condition and has been honored by medical and support groups for her efforts.

Additional support for Rehm's visit is being provided by WMU's Master of Public Administration program, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Department of Political Science, the Lee Honors College, the School of Communication, the Faculty Senate, the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, and the Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies as well as Tiffany's Wine and Spirit Shoppe and Michigan Radio.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400