Interview with Tonya Mosley – New Co-Host of “Here & Now”

The news gathering and news consumption model has gone through wrenching changes in the last decade. I had a chance to speak with the eloquent Tonya Mosley about these changes.

Mosley is the recently selected co-host of NPR & WBUR’s “Here & Now” which is broadcasting from NPR West in Culver City, California. It was announced in July that Mosley would join Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson as hosts of the successful, national midday news program, bringing a new perspective from the west coast.

“It feels like old news, even though it has been a few weeks,” admitted Mosley when I asked about her new role. As to the state of news today, she observed “There is more choice than ever, and attentions are all over the place. You no longer wait until 6pm to get caught up.”

Tonya Mosley (photo by Liz Linder)

Indeed, “Here & Now” reflects the fluid world of news as it’s happening in the middle of the day, with timely, smart and in-depth reporting, interviews and conversation. It has doubled in audience since 2013, reaching 5.27 million weekly listeners on more than 475 stations.

Mosley continued, “I went from TV to radio. I began to realize folks were getting information from different sources. As a journalist, I want to use all the platforms to make my work available the way people want to get it.”

Previously, Mosley served as the Silicon Valley bureau chief for San Francisco’s public radio station, KQED. As an Emmy and Murrow award-winning television, radio and print journalist, Mosley creatively uses her curiosity and tenacity to find and expose truths for the greater good of society. Mosley was awarded a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University where she co-created a workshop for journalists on the impacts of implicit bias, and co-wrote a Belgian/American experimental study on the effects of protest coverage.

We spoke about the hidden, edgier aspects of social media and its effect on people’s consumption of news. “Social media can provide information, in a different way than radio,” Mosley asserted. “We are in the early days of social media. I maintain two Facebook accounts, one personal and one professional. People are becoming more sophisticated about the manipulation. We are in the awakening. The next few years we will see something different, a more discerning public.”

This optimism is balanced by Mosley’s observation that “we have never been here before, with private companies holding so much power. Historically we have done [the right amount of] regulating.”

She went on to describe the goal of “Here & Now” is “balance, order, context. Why should people care is an important consideration. NPR aspires to get to the center, which is where most media tries to be. It is a work in progress effort,” she acknowledged.

Bias is a human trait. We are supposed to be objective. But it can be difficult.

In the programming, the show’s creators are bringing voices from American diaspora. “They are experts in their own right, but not academics, and are accented voices.”

After our freewheeling chat, she followed up by email.

“One thing we didn’t get to is podcasting, which you mentioned. I happen to have my own podcast in addition to hosting Here & Now. It’s called “Truth Be Told,” and it’s an advice show for and by people of color, distributed by San Francisco public radio station, KQED.”

“The thing that’s amazing about this moment in time is that while historically there were limited options to consume media, different types of people have the power to produce what’s missing and reach those audiences. So while there is a splintering of attention, with so many options to choose from…it’s also a positive. And for traditionally underrepresented audiences, we are in a moment.”

“The explosion of media has also allowed me like never before to be in communication with audiences, and I appreciate that, because I’m able to learn in real time how people feel and what they want.”

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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