Category Archives: News

Radio may be dead, but the Internet is alive and well!

 

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Good things come to those who wait! If you can get to a computer or a smartphone on Wednesdays, you’ll find me hosting The Mark Riley Show at www.prn.fm 6:00pm EST.

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The call-in number is 1-888-874-4888.

I really look forward to talking with you; and if you can’t make it at 6pm you can check out a Podcast!

Here’s the podcast of my first show on the Progressive Radio Network – hope you like it!

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Rangel – The Lion of Harlem Runs Again!

I don’t exactly remember the first time I met Rep. Charles Rangel. I do know his career in Congress and mine in radio have slightly overlapped. He was serving his second term when I began my radio career in 1973.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve interviewed him, through good times and bad for both of us. I’ve admired his work in the House of Representatives, and said so. I also said so when I thought he was getting the shaft, which he did more than once.

And so it was on Thursday, December 19th, that Charles Rangel announced he was running for a 23rd term in Congress. I for one was happy to hear it.

Charles Rangel

Charles Rangel has faced some formidable opponents in his time, including the person he first beat back in 1970. Last time around, in 2012, a state senator from Upper Manhattan came dangerously close to defeating the Lion of Harlem. That bid fell short.

The senator, Adriano Espaillat, has broadly hinted he’ll make another run. At least two Harlem clergy people have been the subject of media reports saying they may run. At his announcement news conference Thursday, none of this seemed to faze Charles Rangel (I can’t call him Charlie, not even in print). When asked about opposition, he said he was unconcerned about any opponent.

Through the years, I’ve heard quite a bit of criticism of Charles Rangel. I’ve been criticized for defending him, mostly by callers to my radio programs that never lived in his district. In fact, I was part of an effort to show citywide support for the congressman when the House Ethics Committee was breathing down his neck. There was a rally for him at City Hall, organized by my friends Ken Sunshine and the late Bill Lynch. As we waited for the rally to officially start, a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration walked by, on his way inside City Hall. I heard him say to Bill, “You do know Charlie Rangel brings about a half billion dollars in federal money to the city each year, don’t you?” Bill smiled, because he knew. My jaw dropped because I didn’t.

Critics will often ask “What has Rangel done for Harlem?” It may not be obvious, and hasn’t been all that obvious to me, even though I walk through the neighborhood regularly. I can think back 40 years, to the Harlem I work in when starting my radio life. I remember Sylvia’s when it was just a lunch counter, and the Chinese restaurant that stood where Sylvia’s Also is today (the old heads told me that Ho Chi Minh worked there was a college student back in the ’20s).

Yet when someone asks what Rangel has done for Harlem, it’s not about buildings or artifacts. It’s about people. Walking across 125th St. on this unusually balmy Thursday in December, I was struck by the number of middle aged and older black folks who still call the street home. Yes, there’s been gentrification, and the displacement it causes, but there are still vendors, and people walking along the street I’ve seen for decades. They still call Harlem home in large measure because Charles Rangel has looked out for them.

Charles Rangel shops Harlem

He hasn’t been able to beat back all market forces in the neighborhood, but he’s kept the community affordable for enough folks that Harlem still has its unique pulse and rhythm. You know, that which is created by people.

And so, Charles Rangel runs again. He’s not just running in Harlem this time. He’s got a good sliver of the Bronx that he’ll have to convince that he’s still the best man for the job.

I wouldn’t bet against him.

Would love to know your views…

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What Have We Learned from The Nelson Mandela Memorial?

So what have we learned from the memorial service/celebration of the iconic global leader Nelson Mandela? Let’s see now, President Obama shook the hand of Cuban president Raul Castro.

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For some, this is proof our president is a commie loving Kenyan socialist traitor. Whatever. What’s in a handshake? A change in US policy toward Cuba? He’s already relaxed some strictures from an embargo against the country that’s better than a half century old. There’s no word from the White House that the handshake means he’ll eliminate the embargo.

Oh yeah, and while we’re at it, why don’t we ask ourselves just what it’s accomplished. The end of the Castros? Nope. What people won’t say about Cuba is that they stood with the liberation movements in southern Africa when American lawmakers were calling freedom fighters terrorists.

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Style over substance number two is Barack Obama’s selfie with the Prime Ministers of Britain and Denmark. For all the media coverage, you’d never even know David Cameron was in the picture. It was all about the “flirty” Obama and the Danish “tart”. Oh, and I forgot the reaction of the first lady, which journalists across the country, thousands of miles from the scene chose to interpret. While it may not have been the smartest thing in the world for the president to do, it’s nowhere near the sexualized encounter some in the tabloid press here in New York have made it out to be.

Issue number three is the non signing of the sign language interpreter who stood for hours gesticulating without actually translating what was going on at the podium. Thamsanga Jantjie maintains he was suffering from a ” schizophrenic episode, and now fears the his safety, as well as that of his family. Should be a tempest in a teapot, like the rest of this stuff.

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So these three things are the “takeaways” from a memorial service that drew tens of thousands of people to a soccer stadium to pay their respects to a man who transcended hate and oppression to forge a free South Africa?

For shame!

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