A unique career in journalism: Ayesha Rascoe discusses her experience in the media world

Julia Murdock/jmurdick@mail.smcvt.edu/Staff Writer

Ayesha Rascoe, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition and Up First, sold out the Elley Long Music Center at St. Michael’s College to a very lively crowd. People of all ages and backgrounds came together for an evening with Rascoe and Mikaela Lefrak, host and senior producer of Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition, to learn about Rascoe’s experience in her journalism career.  

Ayesha Rascoe greet attendees leaving the event after giving her talk.

“If my voice expands to what people think of as authority, I am happy about that,” Rascoe said. 

An attendee told Rascoe how much it meant to her, her kids, and her grandkids to hear a black southern woman representing them on the radio every day, a representation she did not grow up having.  

Prior to her time as a host, Rascoe was a White House Correspondent. She covered the presidential administrations of Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. 

Rascoe had the crowd laughing when sharing her experience as a White House correspondent working with the Trump Administration.  

“It was like riding a rollercoaster without proper inspections,” Rascoe said. “You couldn’t repeat what he said because you just didn’t know if he said it.”  

Rascoe explained the challenges as a journalist in the time of social media, and just how important it is to provide evidence. 

Rascoe spent the first ten years of her career at Reuter’s, a worldwide news agency company, covering some of the most important environmental stories of the time, such as the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.  

Rascoe is from a small town in North Carolina and never realized there was something “wrong” with her voice.  

Although she has received tons of negative feedback about her accent, other people feel differently and are “grateful to hear a different voice on the radio,” said an attendee.

Rascoe has been covering stories on the Israel-Hamas war and shared how she deals with reporting on difficult topics.  

“Be an authentic witness to what is happening,” Rascoe said. She tries to “give anyone [she is] talking about the dignity and pride they deserve.” 

“It is a weight, it is heavy, but it is no way to compare actually going through it.” 

Rascoe graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. During her college career, she wrote for her school newspaper, The Hilltop, America’s oldest black collegiate newspaper. Rascoe said her time at Howard gave her “a freedom to just be.

Howard University is a historically black research university founded in 1867.

Rascoe is currently writing and editing a book that features Oprah Winfrey, Stacey Abrams, Branford Marsalis, and other contributors. The book, titled “HBCU Made: A Celebration of the Black College Experience” shares the stories and celebrates the experiences of going to a historically black college or university. 

Rascoe spoke about beginning her career at Reuter’s not having had the same opportunities her colleagues had at Ivy League schools. She made connections and proved herself to be successful, but it was not easy. 

“I am scared 99 percent of the time,” Rascoe said. “Sometimes you’re not afraid of failure, you are scared of success because once you succeed you have to keep proving yourself.” 

Though nerves never go away, Rascoe said she relies on her foundation of journalistic knowledge for success.  

“Do the work, it will pay off in ways you could’ve never imagined,” said Rascoe. 

Rascoe sits and gives a talk to a group at Elley Long Music Center
Rascoe speaking with attendees after talk.