All hail the Queen. The Queen of LA’s talk radio airways, that is.
She hails from the Bay Area by way of New York. She is the daughter of the late Diana DiPrima and the late Amiri Baraka, both poet laureates who left an indelible mark on the world. She is the mother of one son. She has worked with radio giants Steve Harvey and Michael Baisden. She was chosen to introduce Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison. She hosted the morning talk show “The Front Page with Dominique DiPrima” on Stevie Wonder’s KJLH 102.3 FM. And now she is the host and producer of her own morning drive show, “First Things First with Dominique DiPrima” on KBLA Talk 1580, making this five-time Emmy Award winner the first African American woman in Los Angeles to host a talk radio show.
"I want the real backstory. I need to know the details so that I can unpack them in a way to put a healing balm on a sad story and the facts to a good story."
With a list of accomplishments and honors too vast to cite, some would be surprised to know there was a time when a young DiPrima felt she could never live up to the excellence of her activist parents. But her perception changed when she grew a fondness for the mic at just 13 years old and a love for hip hop. Maturity ushered in appreciation. Appreciation made her feel more prepared, less intimidated. “On one hand, we live with these big shoes, but then we grow up attending rallies, meetings, poet readings—all of these things that encourage education. Family values that have a positive impact.”
That positive impact has resulted in more than 40 years of loving engagement with the community—on the ground and across the TV and radio airways. With sixteen years at KJLH, I wanted to know how it felt leaving one Black radio station to work for another. “It was very hard. Stevie Wonder is not just iconic; he is amazing in real life. It was such a great experience for me. But everybody has to leave home sometime.”
Intrigued by more responsibility, fascinated by the fact that Smiley is unafraid to be progressive or Black, and interested most of all by making radio history, by the opportunity to insinuate herself into the man’s world of talk radio, DiPrima joyfully signs on weekday mornings from 6 – 9 a.m. to share “breakfast for the brain,” to use her new platform and autonomy to help Black America focus on, “what we want.” What does she want? “I want the real backstory. I need to know the details so that I can unpack them in a way to put a healing balm on a sad story and the facts to a good story.”
Aware that the news business can be messy, I asked DiPrima how she keeps the messiness from sticking. “Walking, working out, and meditating keeps me centered.” And in awe of her prodigious career, I ended our interview by asking DiPrima to share one word that describes how it feels to be her right now. Her introspective pause was followed by, “Evolving. I’m definitely far from being done.”
TUNE IN TO:
FIRST THINGS FIRST WITH DOMINIQUE DIPRIMA
Weekdays 6AM-9AM on KBLA Talk 1580 AM (kbla1580.com)
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