On June 19, Tavis Smiley is set to launch KBLA Talk 1580, L.A.’s first and only “Unapologetically Progressive” Black owned and operated, talk radio station in Southern California. But Smiley won’t be the only one making history.
Dominique DiPrima, long time host of KJLH’s highly popular Front Page, will also make history as the first black woman to host a morning drive talk radio show. The three-hour long show, dubbed First Things First, will air from 6am to 9am weekdays and tackle issues of interest and urgency in the African American community.
“There’s not been a black talk radio station in la and there’s never been a black woman with her own morning drive talk radio show in Los Angeles as far as commercial radio and I’m really excited to be the first one to do it,” said DiPrima.
“We all want the opportunity to grow and expand and make history and I think what Tavis is doing with KBLA is historical,” she continues. “When you think about Los Angeles being such a catalyst for change —whether it’s the Watts Uprising or the ‘92 civil unrest or the Black Lives Matter Movement—we are an epicenter of change and black voices and we’ve never had a talk radio station, that’s significant.”
For many of those longtime fans of DiPrima’s work with KJLH’s popular early morning one hour talker, the move is an answer to their prayers.
“For years, they’ve been asking ‘Can you be on later’ or ‘can you have a longer show?’ I would have to explain to them that KJLH is a music station”, said the New York native. “Stevie has dedicated it to the community so it feels like so much more than that, but it is a music format. So, this [opportunity] allows me to do something they’ve been asking me for years.”
Not surprisingly, saying goodbye was hard to do, for Di Prima, who has been at KJLH for 16 years.
“I love Stevie,” declares the five-time Emmy Award winning talk show host. “[He’s] one of the only celebrities I’ve ever met that lives up to his legend. KJLH is like a family. It’s been such a great opportunity.”
She knows all too well the risk of startups in a city like Los Angeles.
“If it were easy for black people to own radio and television stations, a lot more of us would”, DiPrima says. “L.A. is very particular. These streets know who you are and you’re going to get credential checks whether you know it or not. But Tavis has a long history of educating and uplifting. He has a high standard in terms of the quality of what he does and I think he has an amazing track record.”
And as DiPrima sees it, the timing couldn’t be better.
“We’re in the middle of a global reckoning around diversity, equity inclusion, black life, anti-racism”, she observes. ”I feel like this is the moment for it.”
As to what DiPrima brings to the table?
“I think that God has blessed me with the ability to talk to anybody and I like talking to anybody. I like finding out what their story is. I like laughing with them, arguing with them…trying to change their minds.”
Following DiPrima weekdays will be Tavis Smiley who will be back on the air after a four-year absence. The station lineup will also include Comic and political commentary host DL Hughley, the the season three winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” Alonzo Bodden, former radio DJ Don Amiche and Black Lives Matter Melinda Abdullah.