Diane Rehm

Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Blog

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1936 into a Syrian family, Diane Rehm is a renowned journalist and public radio talk show host. She is best known for her nationally and internationally distributed National Public Radio (NPR) program, The Diane Rehm Show, which she has hosted for more than 30 years.

Her parents, Wadie Aed and Eugenie Zouekie, originally lived in Mersin, Turkey before getting married in Alexandria, Egypt and moving to the United States to start a family. Rehm was born and raised in the nation’s capital, where she attended primary and secondary school. She fell in love with her local Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Church’s young adult social group and became increasingly involved with members of the young Arab community in Washington. After graduating high school, she was employed by D.C.’s Highways Department as a radio dispatcher.

After marrying John Rehm in 1959, she became a devoted housewife and mother to two children.  Her career in radio inadvertently hit its trajectory in 1973, when 36-year old Rehm volunteered at the local public radio station in Washington, D.C. and was asked to fill in for an ailing host of WAMU’s The Home Show. In 1979, she took over as host of WAMU’s morning talk show, Kaleidoscope, which was later renamed The Diane Rehm Show.

With more than 2.4 million listeners, The Diane Rehm Show is heard five days a week on more than 150 public radio stations nationwide, as well as on satellite around the world. The show typically features in-depth discussions on major national and international headlines followed by an interview with reporters or an author about a book or topic of public interest. When top policymakers and correspondents want to wage in on the public’s opinion of domestic and international issues, they tune in to The Diane Rehm Show.

The acclaimed show landed a spot on the Top 10 list of the most powerful programs in public radio for 2007 and 2008. Rehm has interviewed notables including then Senator Barack Obama, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She became the first radio talk show host to interview a sitting president (Clinton) in the Oval Office.

Rehm more than excelled in her career as a broadcast journalist. In June 1995, she won the Radio Leadership Award from The American Women in Radio and Television (D.C. Chapter), and in 1996, she became the first broadcast journalist ever to win the Betty Furness Media Service Award from the Consumer Federation of America. She is the author of three autobiographical books, and was named a Fellow by the Society of Professional Journalists — the highest honor the society bestows on a journalist. In 2010, Rehm won a Peabody Award, one of the most prestigious and selective honors recognizing distinguished achievement and meritorious public service, for her more than 30 years in public broadcasting. In 2011, she received the Excellence in Journalism Award from the American News Women’s Club. She has also been named “Washingtonian of the Year,” one of Washington’s “100 Most Powerful Women,” and one of the “150 Most Influential People in Washington” by The Washingtonian.

In our nation’s capital, award winning radio talk show host Diane Rehm has been and continues to be a strong voice and representative for major public opinion, helping to facilitate outstanding national dialogue and the civil exchange of ideas between Americans and leading policy makers and journalists.

Read more stories about Arab immigrants and their descendants on the "Together We Came" main page.