Rehm will present “A Conversation With Diane Rehm” at 7:30 p.m. in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus.
Rehm is a native Washingtonian who, in 2009, celebrated 30 years as host of her own radio show. The Diane Rehm Show is produced at WAMU 88.5, the NPR Member Station in Washington, D.C., and distributed by NPR, NPR Worldwide and SIRIUS XM satellite radio. It can be heard on more than 160 stations nationwide. The program is also broadcast in Germany, Japan, and Finland, and is available on U.S. military installations worldwide on the Armed Forces Network.
Each week, more than 2.2 million listeners across the country tune in to The Diane Rehm Show, which has grown from a local morning call-in show to one of public broadcasting’s most popular programs. The two-hour show covers a range of topics and includes questions and comments from listeners. Rehm has embraced new technological platforms to engage her listeners — she takes questions for her guests via Twitter and has tens of thousands of fans on Facebook. The Diane Rehm Show was recognized for these achievements in social media, with the show’s Twitter account (@drshow) winning a 2010 Shorty Award for best producer of short, real-time content in news.
Many of the nation’s prominent newsmakers, journalists and authors have appeared on her show, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, and photographer Annie Leibovitz. In 2000, Rehm became the first radio talk show host to interview a sitting president in the Oval Office when she interviewed President Bill Clinton.
The Diane Rehm Show has been called one of the most interesting talk shows in the country, according to Newsweek magazine. National Journal says Rehm is “the class act of the talk radio world.” The Diane Rehm Show was named to the Top 10 list of the most powerful programs in public radio for 2007 and 2008, based on its ability to draw listeners to public radio stations. It was the only live call-in talk show on the list. In 2010, Diane Rehm won a Peabody Award, widely considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media, for her more than 30 years in public broadcasting.
Rehm began her radio career in 1973 as a volunteer producer for WAMU. She was hired as an assistant producer and later became the host and producer of two health-oriented programs. In 1979, she began hosting WAMU’s local morning talk show, Kaleidoscope, which was renamed The Diane Rehm Show in 1984.
In 1998, Rehm’s career nearly ended because of spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological voice disorder that causes strained, difficult speech. Rehm sought treatment, returned to the show, and called attention to the condition. The National Council on Communicative Disorders recognized her work with a Communication Award, and ABC’s Nightline devoted an entire program to a conversation with Rehm about her disorder. In 2011, Rehm was awarded the Voice Education Research Awareness (VERA) Award from The Voice Foundation for her sustained contributions to the field of voice communication.
Rehm is a successful author of three autobiographical books, “Finding My Voice” (Knopf, 1999), in which she describes her childhood, marriage, career, and voice disorder; “Toward Commitment: A Dialogue about Marriage” (Knopf, 2002), a deeply personal book co-authored by her husband, John; and her most recent book written about her beloved dog, “Life With Maxie” (Gibbs Smith, 2010).
She has received many awards and honors, including being named “Washingtonian of the Year,” and one of the “150 Most Influential People in Washington” by Washingtonian magazine. She has also been included several times on the magazine’s list of the “100 Most Powerful Women,” most recently in 2011. Rehm has received the inaugural Urbino (Italy) Press Award, the International Matrix Award from the Association for Women in Communications; and was named a Fellow by the Society of Professional Journalists — the highest honor the society bestows on a journalist — for extraordinary contributions to the profession. In 2011, she received the Excellence in Journalism Award from the American News Women’s Club.
Rehm’s loyal connection to WAMU 88.5 and American University was recognized in 2007 when she was invited to receive an honorary degree and deliver the College of Arts and Sciences commencement speech.
“I feel fortunate to have spent so many years in public broadcasting under the aegis of this fine University,” she told the graduates. “Our goals have been one and the same: to expand horizons, and to promote a deeper understanding of the world around us.”
Rehm is a director emerita of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and a trustee emerita of McDaniel College in Westminster, Md. She has been awarded honorary degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary, Washington College, McDaniel College, and Shepherd University.
Rehm’s presentation is open to the public. Tickets are required for entry. General admission tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the River Campus Box Office. Current Southeast faculty, staff and students can use a valid Redhawks ID to pick up a free ticket in the University Center Room 202, the Center for Student Involvement or the River Campus Box Office.