WAMU announced last week that Rupert Allman will become executive producer of the program that will replace Diane Rehm‘s daily show when she steps down after the election. Allman, 49, grew up in London and says his first job was as a postman; that was followed later by journalism gigs in Hong Kong and DC, where he worked for the BBC. He comes to WAMU from WNYC, where he was executive producer for the daily news show The Takeaway. We asked him about his plans for the new national show, about which details are still in progress. He starts next month.
What was your pitch for taking over this show?
It’s an irresistible opportunity and a fantastic challenge. More now than ever, America needs a space for honest and fair debate; a program that will go out of its way to mobilize all kinds of conversations, connecting communities, asking questions about the relationships with have with them and ones we have with one another. The new show will build on a Diane’s fantastic legacy, it will meet the audience where they are and champion the need for daily, intelligent debate.
Do you anticipate that the new show will resemble Rehm’s show?
It will be an intelligent talk show for people with curious minds, that won’t change. But it will be different, it will move at a different pace and will be more nimble. Like the current Diane Rehm show, the new program will look out. It will continue to tackle the hardest questions facing America and the world.
How, if at all, does your experience in Washington inform what you want to do here?
To get to work, it would be great to rely on a clean, dependable and safe metro. A pipe dream? At work, I am looking forward to being part of the entire team at WAMU to show off, as best we can, the very best of the region and contribute to Washington’s reputation for world class journalism.
It sounds like you’ll be seeking a wider audience for the show than it has now. How will you pursue new listeners while maintaining Rehm’s loyalists?
We can and will respect Diane’s fearless reputation for asking the right questions. However, Diane is retiring. The show is going to be different. I know some won’t like the changes but there will be changes. Seeking a wider audience doesn’t have to come at the expense of those who have been listening for years. Diane is a fine journalist and we will be a program for fine journalism, but we have to make bigger strides to meet new audiences where they are and we need to better understand how they choose to listen and engage.
It all places new demands on how we produce the program and what stories, guests and conversations you will hear on the new show.
Who’s the new host going to be? (Figured I’d ask!)
You can ask, but perhaps best wait until I’ve officially started!