Rita Coburn Whack Collection

Dates: Predominant dates, 1997-1999; Inclusive dates, 1996-2003
Size: 2 linear feet
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, 9525 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628
Collection Number: 2002/06
Provenance: Donation of Rita Coburn Whack, 2002
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Rita Coburn Whack Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature
Processed by: Tracy Drake, Archivist, 2018; Caroll Hibler, supervised by Jeanie Child, as part of the Harsh Archival Processing Project, 2014

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Rita Coburn Whack is an award winning writer, director and producer in television, radio and film. She was born June 13, 1958 in Harvey, Illinois. Whack spent her childhood in Phoenix, Illinois, a small town about twenty miles south of Chicago. She attended Thornridge High School in Dalton, Illinois and received a B.A. in communications from Northwestern University in 1980. Her work includes African Roots, African Soil: African Americans in Agriculture for which Whack was awarded an Emmy in 1995-1996. Whack received a second Emmy in 2000-2001 for her work as a writer and producer for the PBS documentary, Remembering 47th Street, which celebrated Chicago’s thriving Bronzeville community for both its once-successful businesses and burgeoning nightlife. Whack co-produced and directed the critically acclaimed film Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, which aired on PBS in February 2017 and also received the Peabody Award. The film examines the life of poet, activist and author Dr. Maya Angelou.

Whack also successfully established a career in radio. In 1998, she began working for WBEZ-FM, a nonprofit Chicago public radio station. During her tenure, Whack wrote, produced and hosted several programs including WBEZ’s Public Affairs, Eight Forty-Eight, and the Maria Tapp Show. This work eventually led her to national radio projects. In 2006, she became a producer/special projects director for Oprah Radio, a talk radio channel created and managed by Harpo Productions that aired on Sirius XM Satellite radio.

Sources

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Rita Coburn Whack Collection document her work as a producer and radio host for Chicago public radio and documentarian for public television. The papers include forty-one audio episodes from public radio's Maria Tapp Show, Public Affairs, Latino USA and Eight Forty-Eight. The Rita Coburn Whack Papers also contain a copy of her 2005 Emmy award winning documentary film Curators of Culture: Chicago's South Side Community Art Center, and other documentaries written and produced by Whack for public television.

This collection contains audio cassette recordings from shows produced for Chicago public radio station WBEZ-FM. It also contains VHS tapes and CDs from documentaries and television episodes produced for WTTW and WYCC, both local Chicago public television stations. The material is arranged in two series, each in chronological order:

Series 1: Chicago Public Radio 1996-2003

This series is arranged in chronological order and contains audio cassette recordings from programs both produced, hosted and written by Rita Coburn Whack during her tenure with Chicago public radio.

Series 2: WTTW and WYCC, 2000-2006

This series is arranged in chronological order and includes VHS tapes and DVD recordings from television episodes, documentaries and films written, produced and directed by Rita Coburn Whack during her tenure with WTTW, Chicago’s local PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) station.

RELATED MATERIALS

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

CONTAINER LIST

Series 1: Audio Programs from Chicago Public Radio

Box 1

AV

001

Audio walk through the performance Anxiety Exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art, 1996 (side 1)

Interview with Frank McCourt author of Angela’s Ashes, Interview with Margaret Atwood author of Alias Grace, 1996 (side 2) produced by Rita Coburn Whack for WBEZ radio

Box 1

AV

002

Maria Tapp Show produced by Rita Coburn Whack for WBEZ radio; two parts of a three part series on homelessness         

Part 1: (homelessness in America), interview with Maria Foscarinis and Ralph Da Costa Nunez, 1996 (side 1)

Part 2: (homelessness in Chicago), interview with Marguerite Jackson, Cynthia Moreno, Ray Willis and John Donahue, 1996 (side 2)

Box 1 AV 003 Maria Tapp Show, produced by Rita Coburn Whack for WBEZ radio; three parts of a four part series on the Underground Railroad         

Part 1: Rita Coburn Whack interviews Judy Scheehle at Milton House Museum in Wisconsin, a stop on the Underground Railroad, 1997 February 6 (side 1)

Part 2: DuPage County Underground Railroad, with host David Boudeau

Part 3: interview with Glennette Tilley Turner, author, educator and expert on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, 1997 February 13 (side 1)

Box 1

AV

004

Interview with Merri Dee (side 1)

Interview with Samuel Drew, Richard M. Daley and Jesse White, [1985] (side 1)

Interview with Judy Scheehle at Milton House Museum in Wisconsin, a stop on the Underground Railroad, 1997 February 6 (side 2)

Box 1

AV

005

Rita Coburn Whack guest host program on race and housing in the south suburbs with Ronald Bean, Robin Kelly, Joseph Martin (side 1)

Interview with Nancy Wilson, celebrates her sixtieth birthday with the release of her sixtieth album, 1997 July 15th (side 2)

Box 1

AV

006

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, Mary Mitchell interviews Lawrence C. Marshall concerning DNA testing for death row appeals cases, 1997 (side 1)

Latino USA program with host Maria Hinojosa speaks with singer Ricardo Lemvo of the band Makina Loca about Afro Cuban Salsa (side 1)

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, host Mary Mitchell interviews Alan Snitow, Bari Scott, Sara Rubin Carroll, Salim Muwakkil about the PBS documentary Blacks and Jews,1997 (side 1 continued on side 2)

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, host Mary Mitchell interviews Brenda Grauer, Wardell Yatliken, Edwin Eisendrath on revamping the Chicago Housing Authority, 1997 (side 2)

Box 1

AV

007

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Maya Angelou, 1997 September 5

[Audio fades out; no formal ending for program]

Box 1

AV

008

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Ronald Bean, Robin Kelly, Joseph Martin on race and housing in south suburban Chicago, 1997 September 15
Box 1

AV

009

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, host Gretchen Helfrich includes interviews with Adrienne Levatino, Terry Brunner, Denny Jacobs, future of gaming in Illinois, 1997 December 11 (side 1)

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, includes an interview with Thomas Young by Rita Coburn Whack, 1997 December 11 (side 1)

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, host Andrew Patner includes interview with Thomas Young, 1997 December 11 (side 1 and continued on side 2)

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, includes an interview with author Jonis Agee, 1997 December 11 (side 1)

Box 1 AV 010

WBEZ [Public] Affairs program produced by Rita Whack, includes interview with author Dean Morrissey, The Great Kettles: A Tale of Time, 1997 (side 1)

WBEZ Public Affairs program produced by Rita Whack, includes interview with author Jonis Agee, South of Resurrection, 1997 (side 1)

Box 1

AV

011

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, on air essay, Jay Ferrari Dove’s Diner, 1998 March 4 (side 1)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, hosted by Jan Coleman with Karin McKie and Sandy Borglum, director of the play Warrior Queens, 1998 March 4 (side 1)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, host Jan Coleman, interview with James Law, 1998 March 4 (side 1)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, host Jan Coleman, interview with Nicholas Barron, 1998 March 4 (sides 1 and continued on side 2)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Bebe Moore Campbell by Rita Coburn Whack, Singing in the Comeback Choir, 1998 March 4 (Side 2)

Box 1 AV 012

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Dempsey Travis speaking about Chicago neighborhoods and race, 1998 March 24 (side 1)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Ntozake Shange by Rita Coburn Whack, 1998 March 24 (side 1 continued on side 2)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Anna Bauhaus by Emily Hanford, 1998 March 24 (side 2)

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Katherine Neville by Victoria Lautman, 1998 March 24 (side 2)

Box 1 AV 013 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack interview with Charlie Hoch, homelessness, 1998 April 24 (side 1)
Box 1 AV 014

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack interview with author Jane Hertenstein, Orphan Girl: Memoirs of A Chicago Bag Lady, 1998 May 11 (side 1)

Poet and Author Quraysh Ali Lansana reads from his book Southside Rain, 1998 May 11 (side 1)

Chicago Chamber Musician performance, 1998 May 11 (side 1)

Interview with Michael Hennig by Gretchen Helfrich, Music at the Millennium, 1998 May11 (side 1)

Box 1 AV015

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack interview with Bishop "TD" Jakes, author of the book The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord, 1998 July 29 (side 1) edited content

(side 2) unedited content

Box 1 AV016 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Edwidge Danticat, author of the book, The Farming of Bones, 1998 September 25 (side 1)
Box 1 AV017 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Alice Walker, author of the book, By The Light of My Father's Smile, 1998 October 7 (side 1 and side 2)
Box 1 AV018 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Alice Walker, author of the book, By The Light of My Father's Smile, 1998 October 19 (side 1)
Box 1 AV 019 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Guy Johnson, author of the book, Standing at the Scratch Line, [1998] (side 1)
Box 1 AV 020 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, with Toni Morrison, author of Paradise, [1998] (side1)
Box 1 AV 021 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Colson Whitehead, author of the book, The Intuitionist, 1999 March 5 (side 1) [edited]
Box 1 AV 022

WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Colson Whitehead, author of the book, The Intuitionist, 1999 March 5 (side 1)

Interview with Lorraine Johnson Coleman, author of the book, Just Plain Folks, 1999 March 5 (side 1)

Interview with Jane Scovell, author of OONA: Living in the Shadows by Victoria Lautman, 1999 March 5 (side 2)

Box 1 AV 023 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Delores "Dee" Parmer Woodtor, African American genealogy, 1999 June 23 (side 1)
Box 1 AV 024 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Kimberly Cash Tate, author of the book, More Christian Than African-American, 1999 June 30 (side 1) [edited]
Box 1 AV 025 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Kimberly Cash Tate, author of the book, More Christian Than African-American, 1999 June 30 (side 1) [unedited]
Box 1 AV 026 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Christopher Paul Curtis, author of Bud, Not Buddy, 1999 October 11 (side 1)
Box 1 AV 027 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Shauna Singh Baldwin, author of What The Body Remembers, 1999 December 11 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 028 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Jonetta Rose Barras, author of Whatever Happened To Daddy's Little Girl?, 2000 June 13(side 1)
Box 2 AV 029 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Eric Jerome Dickey, author of Liars Game, 2000 July 11 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 030 WBEZ Book Minutes program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Beatrice Berry, author of Redemption Song, [2000] (side 1)
Box 2 AV 031 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of A Woman of Substance, Where You Belong, Girls Inc., [2000] (side 1)
Box 2 AV 032 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Dawn Turner Trice, author of An Eighth of August, 2001 January 8 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 033 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Malachi Thompson, Merri Dee and Rita Coburn Whack, Remembering 47th Street documentary, 2001 May 10 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 034 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Walter Mosley, author of Fearless Jones, 2001 July 17 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 035 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Pearl Cleage, author of I Wish I Had A Red Dress, 2001 July 24 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 036 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Susan Cayton Woodson, Darker Muse Roundtable, 2001 October 31 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 037 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Walter Mosley, author of Bad Boy Brawly Brown, 2002 August 20 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 038 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Iris Jacob, author of My Sisters' Voices: Teenage Girls of Color Speak Out, 2002 August 27 (side 1)
Box 2 AV 039 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight program produced by Rita Coburn Whack, interview with Errol Lincoln Uys, author of Riding The Rails, [2003] (side 1)
Box 2 AV 040

Interview with Pat Madison, job unemployment, relocation and women (side A) [undated]

Interview with Faye Wattletton, job unemployment, relocation and women (side B) [undated]

Box 2 AV 041

Nikki Giovanni album, Like a Ripple on a Pond (side A)

Nikki Giovanni album, Truth is on Its Way (side B)

Series 2: Programs related to WYCC and WTTW

Box 3 VHS 001 Remembering 47th Street hosted by Merri Dee, 2000
Box 3 VHS 002 Remembering 47th Street hosted by Merri Dee, 2000
Box 3 DVD 003 Remembering 47th Street hosted by Merri Dee, 2000
Box 3 VHS 004 City Colleges of Chicago City Edition, WYCC, SHOE # 101 [2002]
Box 3 VHS 005 City Colleges of Chicago City Edition, WYCC, Episode # 102, “New Ways To Learn,” 2002 July 17
Box 3 VHS 006 City Colleges of Chicago City Edition, Episode #103, “Education Beyond the Classroom,” 2002 August 9
Box 3 VHS 007 City Colleges of Chicago City Edition, WYCC         

Episode # 104, “Learning Through Action”

Episode # 105, “Education Prepares us for the Future”

Episode # 106, “Applying Education to our Lifestyles”

Box 3 VHS 008 City Colleges of Chicago City Edition, WYCC         

Episode# 107, “Turning Education into Action,” 2002

Episode# 108, “Education in the Community,” 2002

Episode# 201, “Learning From The Inside Out,” 2002 August 30

Box 3 VHS 009 City Colleges of Chicago City Edition, WYCC, Episode# 204, “The Sights and Sounds of Education,” 2003 May 9
Box 4 VHS 010 A Salute to City College Champion Earl L. Neal, WYCC, 2003 March 28
Box 4 VHS 011 Isobel Neal Hyde Park Art Center Gala, WYCC, 2003
Box 4 VHS 012 Racism at Work: Educating the Workforce After Brown V. Board, WYCC, 2004 May 17
Box 4 VHS 013 Push for Parenting: A Conversation with Bill Cosby, Rainbow Push Conference Chicago, WYCC, 2004 July 1
Box 4 DVD 014 Curators of Culture: Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center, 2005
Box 4 DVD 015 Constructing Equality: Diversifying Chicago’s Building Trades, hosted by Harry Lennix, 2006
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