When Good Things Happen to Good People

The news is often filled with stories of sadness and crisis, tragedy and disaster. So, I feel compelled to share two good pieces of news.

1. Farai Chideya is hosting a new public radio series. Chideya is former host of NPR’s now defunct News & Notes. Since then, she’s been a guest host for The Takeaway and The Story and has done stints on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, as well as GritTV with Laura Flanders.

Her new multimedia program is called Pop+Politics, also the name of her trend-setting blog. Pop+Politics will be a series of specials in conjunction with the mid-term elections.

This is a big story. Even though voter turn-out for these races is low, mid-term elections are an important test of a President’s approval ratings. And, changes in the make-up of Congress can shape the country’s political destiny. (Who can forget Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and the so-called Republican Revolution that seized Congress in 1994, one year into the Clinton Presidency?)

Pop+Politics will feature a ground-up reporting road trip through three national hot-spots: California, Arizona and Florida. The project, produced by WNYC and American Public Media, will use mobile and social networking strategies, including meetups, to engage, expand and diversify citizen experts in the Public Insight Network (PIN).

“I don’t want to do News & Notes again,” said Chideya. “I want to reach that audience, but go even broader…America is getting more diverse in terms of race, national origin, ethnicity, the role of women, and we need to reflect that in our audience.” 

Fans of Chideya may be hoping this new venture will lead to a regular, national, daily or weekly public radio program. But the team behind Pop + Politics, including WNYC’s Kerry Donahue, says the goal is to create a nimble specials unit that has its finger on the pulse of the country, with a mission and the flexibility to cover discreet news events. 

2. Davar Ardalan has been named Executive Producer of The Michael Eric Dyson Show. Ardalan is a longtime public radio producer who spent most of career at NPR. She was also on the Talent Committee of the pilot season of MQ2, where she helped incubate four of the makers quest projects at NPR’s Weekend Edition. 

“I am genuinely excited to welcome Davar Ardalan,” said Dyson, in a press release. “She is energetic, innovative and imaginative, and her tremendous intellectual resources will not only serve our show, but the public radio audience as well.”

Ardalan broke new ground at NPR by leading up successful social media experiments. Her hiring is no doubt a coup for The Dyson Show, as it tries to gain a foothold in a quirky and competitive public media world. It’s a sign that Baltimore’s WEAA-FM is aiming for wider carriage of this CPB-backed program, and that the show will exhibit a spirit of public media innovation.

“As a journalist, I am eager not only to inform but also to involve citizens on the radio and online,” Ardalan said. “In this way, I look forward to giving voice to communities and empowering our audience to interact with Michael Eric Dyson and guests through new storytelling platforms.”

Check out this introductory video Davar and her team made to take listeners and followers behind the scenes at WEAA and the Dyson Show.

So, there you have it: Two good pieces of news. Good Things Can Happen to Good People. Now, we know that events tend to occur in threes. At least that what I’ve been told. Can you think of a third good news story in public media to share. Please add your headlines and links in comments below.