Is Working a Labor of Love? It is for My New Radio Show!

On Saturday, I return to radio with a new weekly talk show titled “Working New York”.
Mark Riley in studio

The program will allow me to give full voice to something that’s been articulated before, but needs to be shouted from the rooftops now. That is, working people, those folks who keep this great nation alive, deserve the respect of all of us.

And these days, working America is under siege.

The program airs on WWRL 1600AM radio in the New York area, and is on the Web at

The concept for the show goes back deep into the earliest stages of my own life. My father was one of the hardest working Americans I’ve ever known. When I was small, I’d watch him leave for his job at the post office, and I would marvel at the ritual of his latching his keys to his belt, putting on his suit jacket on top of his shirt and tie, and telling us, “I’m off.” I didn’t know at the time that he’d been doing this same routine for nearly 40 years.

He retired from the post office when I was eight years old. I remember him taking me on the train as he went in to sign the final papers that signaled his retirement. I didn’t understand how sad it was for him, at least, not then. My dad then went on to work for an additional 15 years at a hospital in Connecticut, where we moved after he retired. It was a different place, different circumstances, but the same steady, everyday work ethic.

You see, my father never had to sit me down and tell me to respect working people. He was one, and he led by his example. It didn’t matter to him what a person did for a living, or how much they got paid. What mattered was that they worked, and if they were good at what they did, they were deserving of respect. And all this he taught us without really ever saying it.

Elwood Riley and Mark Riley
Elwood Riley and Mark Riley

There are a lot of people in media and politics today who purport to speak for working people. In too many cases, these same blowhards wouldn’t spend five minutes with sanitation workers, having a conversation with people working in a hospital, or listening to the problems farmers are facing in the 21st century. I like to think I’m different.

My dad belonged to a union all his life. I have an abiding respect for unions, though I know they, like us, aren’t perfect. Whether someone changes a bedpan or is a Starbucks barista, an electrical worker or an IT specialist, whether you pump gas, flip burgers, whatever, you’re an American worker.

You deserve affordable healthcare, a good education for your kids, and an affordable, safe place to live. The program “Working New York” is for you, if you’re working now, looking for work, or have worked all your life. It’s centered in New York City – well isn’t everything – but it speaks to workers everywhere. So if you can’t tune in via radio, tune in via your computer from wherever you are in the world. I’ll be posting a phone in number, and if you shout loud enough the station may set up texting capabilities. before you ask, podcasting is in the pipeline too!

My father is part of all of you. Help me kick it off with a bang, in his in honor and for the late Studs Turkel!

Studs Terkel

“Working New York” airs Saturdays from 2-5PM on WWRL, 1600AM in New York City, and on the Web at
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