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For the third year, Maya Angelou, host, poet and activist, celebrates Black History Month by offering her poetic insight to public radio. With audio, content, website development sales and publicity, crafted by a diverse crew of technical and creative staff, this is our story.

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The Team

Rita Coburn Whack
Executive Producer/Producer

The blessing of working with Dr. Maya Angelou stems from having read her books, interviewed her years ago at Chicago Public Radio, produced her show at Oprah Radio for 5 years as well as being her current multimedia producer and a daughter-friend. I believe God blesses us, preparing us and pulling us toward an inner destiny. Our crew and guests are part of history.

The African and African-American is not monolithic, we have many stories. Kofi Annan reminds in continent and spirit that all humanity can view the world as a place of peace, achieving and giving, uplifting and supporting our brothers and sisters around the globe. Alicia Keys says we are multi-racial and multi-faceted able to give as well as receive, making music for ourselves, our children and her giving to India and Africa are only the beginning. Jennifer Hudson’s life, a steady climb, continues to tell us that even though intimate parts of our personal histories can be erased before our eyes, our spirits mold the past into a future and with God’s help we can hold on to the inheritance of family. Regina Taylor, one of our great modern playwrights, has such a sense of self she more than bridges the gap for generations of African Americans with stories, words and music, creating a common path for our fathers, mothers, ancestors and our brothers and sisters across the classes we create within the race. Finally, Oprah, who once said colleagues and employees drawn to her were from the same tribe, shares a love for Maya Angelou so deep that we are taught as we observe the love return. These two women represent the past, present and future choosing each other and giving credence to the tribe. Join the tribe as you enjoy this year’s Black History Month Special, listen as we tell our stories and make sure you visit the Your Stories page to tell your own.

Gulnaz Saiyed
Associate Producer

Gulnaz Saiyed is a high school teacher and a freelance journalist. She has her master’s from the Medill School of Journalism.

“This is my second year working on Maya Angelou’s Black History Month Special and it’s an honor to be part of the team. I love working to bring to listeners these intimate and enlightening conversations between people I admire.”

Eddie Garcia
Sound Engineer

I’m a production coordinator and operations technician for 88.5 WFDD out of Winston Salem, NC. I’m also guitarist, singer, and songwriter in the Winston Salem based rock band Jews and Catholics.

Recording with Maya Angelou
I’ve been fortunate enough to have recorded at Dr. Maya Angelou’s home for RCW Productions, Inc., and on one other occasion for WFDD. Dr. Angelou is an amazing woman, a gracious host, and a vivacious & spirited woman! Working with her has definitely been the most rewarding experience of my production career. Whether its an engrossing conversation, a poetry reading, or an off the cuff comment that left me laughing or nearly in tears, to have the opportunity to put that voice, that spirit to tape is truly a gift.

Michelle McKinney Hammond
Field Producer

Juggling the many hats of bestselling author, speaker, singer, television cohost and producer has opened the world to me and given me so many exciting adventures this has been one more thing to add to an incredible life of creating. Spending time with Kofi Annan was a rich moment of my personal history that will be repeated to many often.

Bill Healy
Sound Engineer

I work as an independent producer on series and investigations with WBEZ-Chicago Public Radio.

Recording with Regina Taylor and Jennifer Hudson
Maya Angelou is an inspiration for both the women I recorded and for me. Regina Taylor was visibly moved at the end of her conversation with Dr. Angelou. Jennifer Hudson seemed also to relish her discussion as well. Both women were thoughtful and kind. It was an honor to facilitate these recordings so that others can hear these special conversations.

Dale Parsons

After managing the programming and operations departments of the NBC and Viacom radio stations in New York City, I moved to the island of Maui, Hawaii from where I have consulted radio and TV stations as well as voiced and produced hundreds of commercials for local, regional and national clients.

Recording with Oprah Winfrey
Listening to the interview by Dr. Angelou, a true American hero, was much like enjoying a conversation at the kitchen table between two good friends. It was a privilege to be a part of this project and to work with Miss Winfrey, of whom I have been a fan and admirer from the first time I watched her Baltimore TV program in the 1970s. Viewers hungry for a less confrontational style of television talk have loved her unique ability to treat even controversial topics and guests, as well as the television audience, with respect and dignity. As a media personality, performer and executive, she has set the standards for excellence. Working in the recording studio with Miss Winfrey was an absolute delight. Her warm and personal style is no façade. With Oprah Winfrey, what you see on TV is what you get in real life.

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