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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4 thoughts on “Is Working a Labor of Love? It is for My New Radio Show!”

  1. Looking forward to hearing this program. Way to go, Mark! Glad you are back on the air. I will tell my crew over here, to check you out as well!

    All the best!

    Warm Regards,


  2. Welcome back!!! I have been listening to your perspective for the last 40 years and I missed hearing you. I am sure that you will be back on a daily basis soon.

  3. Bravo! Found you during the show, having not been online to see this posting.

    My dad was a postman, before and after his enlisting in WWII and becoming disabled in boot camp, NJ, spinal meningitis epidemic. He died at age 44, when I was 10, in 1950. He and my mother met when her sister was dating a mailman, who worked with my dad. There was to be a doubledate and the woman for my dad got sick and my mom “filled in”. The rest is history, as they say. My youngest aunt worked for the US post office for 30 years. My dad worked in our local post office for a year when I was in Kindergarten, but it was too much and he was moved to the main Man. p.o. Then he had to stop working.

    On the show: I hope you can include unemployment as a facet of working. Most people have worked. Most are not unemployed as a result of not wanting to work.

    I recently heard, again, that 78% of people with disabilities who CAN work, are unemployed because they can’t find jobs. Transportation is a problem for disabled people to get to work, as you know. It is a problem for poor people to get to interviews when transportation costs are so high.

    Remember Edith Prentiss from Disabled in Action? She was running for election, in the group, for legislative liason. She was/is a wonderful guest on radio.

    On mayoral control: I’m against it. Basir Mchawi of
    “Education at the Crossroads”, WBAI has had a few guests on the air about it – including teachers and parents who are against it. I have strong views about it: I recently heard a soundbite on the news that M. Bloomberg wants 200 more charter schools in NYC. What neighborhoods are getting charter schools that are given part of existing school buildings, which privatizes public space, while killing off public schools. Your callers near the end of the show on Sat. were wonderful. Basir Mchawi has been an educator for a long long time. Note:I support the “undo the coup” movement at WBAI, see I mention that because there is a “gag” rule at WBAI where only the “coupsters” can present their point of view (and I have publicly called them liars at a Pacifica National Board Meeting in NYC in July).

    I think WWRL has made a good move putting you on the air. I see work and politics, in re public policy intertwined. Finally, I,too worked for the RWDSU union –
    but way back when. I worked for the newspaper of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union for about a year, when I returned to NYC and until I was too pregnant to work. Artists are workers,too. Many of us work/worked “outside” jobs to support our art careers. And some of us are no longer able to work, or are retired, but are still workers, even if we don’t get pay checks.

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