Category Archives: Politics & Culture

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

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 6:00pm EST.


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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Land and Nugent- American Idiots

Perhaps Perhaps we should have expected that as the presidential race got clear and focused, we’d be hearing more nonsense coming from those who want to see Barack Obama lose.

Trouble is, these surrogates (as opposed to supporters) can’t even get their crazed rants straight.

Two of the latest are the aged rocker Ted (my next hit song is coming) Nugent, and the alleged religious broadcaster Dr. Richard Land. In a way, their demented ravings have a lot in common.
Nugent goes off at the National Rifle Association convention, calling the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State criminals.He then opined about America’s defiance of kings and emperors. “We are partriots, we are bravehearts”, says Nugent. Never mind that the Braveheart saga was a movie that purported to deal with historical events in SCOTLAND! Why let facts get in the way of insanity? Or is Nugent crazy like a fox? Since the basis of these rants is pure speculation, suppose Ted Nugent, surrogate of Mitt Romney, said what he did in order to foster a revival of his long dead rock career? Just asking.

Just as bad is Dr. Richard Land, a religious broadcaster and major domo in the Southern Baptist Convention. He decides to speculate that President Obama’s experession of concern about the killing of Trayvon Martin is somehow linked to a plot to turn out the black vote in November. His evidence? OOOPS, he doesn’t have any. But that doesn’t stop him any more than it stopped Ted Nugent. Yet Land went one step further. He plagarized large amounts of his on air rant from an editorial in the Washington Times. Unlike Nugent, Land did apologize, for the plagarism, and for what he said about the Martin case (which really wasn’t his original idea anyway).

You can bet this type of slander is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’ll see between now and November. Notice also, as my friend Jonathan Capehart pointed out in the Washington Post, that as of Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney has yet to be Velcroed to the remarks of either Nugent or Land, as Barack Obama was to the remarks of Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen about Ann Romney. American idiocy comes in many shapes and forms, races and creeds. It’s not limited to the left or right of the political spectrum. I simply choose to point out the nonsense of the latter. There’s a whole media hemisphere that does the opposite.

Let them justify these remarks. I can’t. Can you?

Listen to me Monday through Friday 6 AM to 9 AM on WWRL AM 1600.  Follow me on Twitter @MarkRileyMedia.
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