Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in people coming together to work for the greater good.
Barbara Hamm Lee, the executive producer and host of WHRV’s “Another View,” not only supports that philosophy, she exemplifies it.
She doesn’t espouse the view that we should be colorblind. “That would mean you don’t see me,” Ms. Hamm Lee said. “But I do hold on to King’s wish of all of us coming and working together for a common cause.”
Her lengthy career in media includes being news director at WTKR. She was the only African-American woman to hold that position in a Top 50 television market in 1994. The station’s 6 p.m. newscast rose to No. 1.
“We were marking progress in diversifying on air,” said Ms. Hamm Lee, who remained at the station until 2001. “But we were not making progress in terms of management. That’s where the decisions are made and the shaping of coverage comes from. I was very proud to reach that goal.”
Ms. Hamm Lee left to start her own company, Hamm & Fox Communications, which trained executives from nonprofits in media relations. Later, she moved to Maryland to become head of media relations for the Prince George’s County Police Department.
Ms. Hamm Lee, 59, returned to Hampton Roads in 2008 to work in communications at WHRO. She holds immense pride in creating “Another View,” which airs Fridays at noon on 89.5 FM and explores topics from an African-American perspective.
Two of the show’s pillars are highlighting the knowledge of experts who are minorities and including a positive element in every show.
“The show focuses on issues of interest to the African-American community, but we want everyone as an audience,” she said. “I hear from listeners that it’s an opportunity to hear conversations that they otherwise might not be privy to.”
Ms. Hamm Lee is Chair for Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority; reform and change in public housing is among her chief interests. She is the Vice Chair of YWCA South Hampton Roads, and is passionate about empowering women and eliminating racism. She is equally supportive of education as Chair of the Norfolk Education Foundation.
Her passion for community activism dates back to her earliest memories of Dr. King.
As a young girl growing up in Baltimore, Ms. Hamm Lee easily recalls the riots after Dr. King’s assassination.
“That spurred me to get involved,” she said. “Because I was an A student and always in advanced courses, a lot of times I was the “only.” For much of my career, I’ve been the only. People would tell me I was different, and I wanted them to see there were a lot of people like me. I was always conscious of trying to make this world a better place for everybody.”
Ms. Hamm Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Mass Communications from Bennett College, earned in 1978.
Ms. Hamm Lee married husband Maxie Lee nine years ago. She has a daughter Tiffany, a stepdaughter, Erin, and one granddaughter, Patience, 7.