Diane Rehm

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Diane Rehm
Diane Rehm.jpg
Rehm in 2019
Diane Aed

(1936-09-21) September 21, 1936 (age 86)
  • John Rehm (second husband; 1959–2014; his death)
  • John Hagedorn (m. 2017)
  • David Rehm
  • Jennifer Rehm
ShowThe Diane Rehm Show
CountryUnited States

Diane Rehm (/ˈrm/; born Diane Aed; September 21,[1] 1936) is an American journalist and the host of Diane Rehm: On My Mind podcast, produced at WAMU, which is licensed to American University in Washington, D.C.. She also hosts a monthly book club series, Diane Rehm Book Club, at WAMU. Rehm is the former American public radio talk show host of The Diane Rehm Show, which was distributed nationally and internationally by National Public Radio. The show was produced at WAMU.

Rehm had announced her plans to retire from hosting the show after the 2016 elections. The final program was recorded and distributed on December 23, 2016.[2][3] Rehm announced she was going to host a weekly podcast, which she began doing in January 2017.[4]

Rehm is the co-producer, narrator, and interviewer of When My Time Comes, distributed by PBS stations across the country. Her book by the same name was published in 2020 by Knopf. The Washington Post describes Rehm as a leading voice in the right to die debate.[5]

Early life[edit]

Rehm was born in Washington, D.C. According to Rehm's autobiography, Finding My Voice, her father's family were Eastern Orthodox Christians from Ottoman Mersin, a city on the southern coast of Anatolia. According to Rehm, the family were Arabs, and her mother was fluent in both French and Arabic. Rehm's father immigrated to the United States in 1911, following his older brothers. He returned to Mersin to marry her mother, but found that she and her family were living in Alexandria, Egypt. He brought her to the United States in 1929; family memories of how the two met vary.[6] In a 2012 interview in The Washingtonian, she describes her father as coming from Beirut, Lebanon.[7]

Rehm attended William B. Powell Elementary and Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C.[1] Upon graduation, she was employed by the city's highways department, where she became a radio dispatcher.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Rehm married John Rehm, her second husband, in 1959; he was working at the State Department, where she was working as a secretary.[5] John Rehm died June 23, 2014, after he stopped eating and drinking to end his suffering from Parkinson's disease.[8] After his death, Rehm became a staunch advocate for medical aid in dying, arguing that no one should suffer needlessly in the way that her husband did.[9][10] She has two adult children, David and Jennifer,[11] and two grandchildren. On October 14, 2017, Diane Rehm and John Hagedorn were married at the Washington National Cathedral.

In 1998, Rehm began having difficulty speaking normally. Eventually, she was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital and was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological condition that affects the quality of her voice. The condition is treatable but not curable. After a short break, Rehm's career continued and her radio show went on until December 2016.[1]


Rehm began her radio career in 1973[11] as a volunteer for WAMU's The Home Show. In 1979, she took over as the host of WAMU's morning talk show, Kaleidoscope, which was renamed The Diane Rehm Show in 1984.

Rehm has interviewed many political and cultural figures, including John McCain, Barack Obama, Madeleine Albright. She has said that her most touching interview was with Fred Rogers of the PBS program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, conducted just before his death.[11] Rehm has described her interviews with Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to have been "amazing experiences."[12]

She has written three autobiographical books. The first, Finding My Voice, dealt with her traditional upbringing in a Christian Arab household, her brief first marriage and divorce, her 50-year marriage to John Rehm, raising her children, the first 20 years of her radio career, and her battles with depression, and spasmodic dysphonia.[13] Together with John Rehm she co-wrote Toward Commitment: A Dialogue About Marriage, which was published in 2002.

Her memoir, On My Own,[14][15][16] was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2016.[17]

The final broadcast of The Diane Rehm Show was aired on December 23, 2016.[18]

Corporation for Public Broadcasting report[edit]

In 2005, a private study funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting reported that Rehm booked 22 liberal guests for every 5 conservative guests. The study was criticized as a politicized attempt to, in Rehm's word, "scare" journalists with the accusation of liberal bias. One criticism of the study concerned its criteria of what constituted "liberal" – a category which included seemingly moderate Republicans such as Senator Chuck Hagel and former Representative Bob Barr.[19] The study was commissioned by Kenneth Tomlinson, whose appointment to the chairmanship of the CPB by George W. Bush had been criticized by liberals as politically motivated. Tomlinson hired Indiana consultant Frederick W. Mann, a conservative thinker previously associated with the Young America's Foundation, which has described itself as "the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement".[20]

A report on the study by the CPB's Inspector General, Kenneth Konz, criticized Tomlinson's methods; the report led to Tomlinson's immediate resignation in November 2005.[21] According to The Washington Post, Rehm personally "called Mann's findings 'unprofessional and simplistic.' [and] added 'I've been booking shows for 25 years. I don't think they have any idea what it takes to achieve the professionalism and expertise and the right people to express a variety of points of view. . . . What [Kenneth Tomlinson]'s doing, I think, is trying to scare public broadcasters.' "[19]


Rehm has been featured in three political movie documentaries: Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains, I.O.U.S.A.,[22] and Dinesh D'Souza's 2016: Obama's America which used her quote, "And then you've got the cover of Forbes magazine, a cover story by Dinesh D'Souza. I think nothing has turned my stomach so much in recent years as reading that piece."[23]


2015 Bernie Sanders interview[edit]

On June 10, 2015, Rehm interviewed 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and stated that Sanders had dual citizenship with Israel; this was not true.[24][25][26] Sanders denied that he holds dual citizenship, but Rehm repeated her assertion of the senator's dual citizenship as a fact.[24][25] Sophia Tesfaye of Salon pointed out that Rehm apparently fell for an antisemitic canard and did not successfully fact-check her information before she conducted her interview with Sanders.[25] In The Times of Israel, Gedalyah Reback stated that the interview was controversial because Rehm seemed to have accused a Jewish U.S. presidential candidate of maintaining secret Israeli citizenship.[26]

Rehm apologized for her exchange with Sanders in a statement released later that day. "On today's show I made a mistake. Rather than asking if Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders whether he had dual U.S./Israeli citizenship, as I had read in a comment on Facebook, I stated it as fact. I want to apologize as well to all our listeners for having made an erroneous statement. I am sorry for the mistake. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest."[27] Jewish Journalist Josh Marshall called her apology "a total crock."[28] Jewish Law professor David Bernstein found it strange that both Rehm and her producer fell for what he felt was an obvious anti-Semitic hoax. He speculated that frequently-heard strange accusations about Jewish supporters of Israel may have played a role.[29] Elizabeth Jepsen, NPR's ombudsman, took issue with both Rehm's interview and apology: "Far from putting anything to rest, Rehm has now taken a falsehood from the fringes of the Internet and moved it into the mainstream conversation."[30]

Right-to-die advocacy[edit]

Following the 2014[31] death of her husband—who was unable to get physician assisted suicide drugs due to their illegality in Maryland—Rehm became an advocate for right to die.[32] NPR's ombudsman deemed that her related fundraising for Compassion & Choices violated the NPR ethical standards, and she agreed to stop attending fundraising dinners.[31]

In February 2020 she published a book containing 40 interviews with people involved in and holding different views on questions related to the end-of-life care and the right-to-die movement. Titled When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End, its foreword was contributed by John Grisham. She is also collaborating with Joe Fab on a documentary with the same title that is scheduled to be released in 2021.

Honors and awards[edit]

A partial list of Rehm's honors and awards:


  • When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End (Knopf, 2020). ISBN 9780525654759


  1. ^ a b c Weeks, Linton (August 23, 1999). "Diane Rehm finds a voice of her own". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  2. ^ Victor, Daniel (December 8, 2015). "Diane Rehm Announces Retirement From Long-Running Talk Show". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Stelter, Brian (December 23, 2016). "Diane Rehm says farewell to 'The Diane Rehm Show'". CNNMoney. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  4. ^ "The Diane Rehm Show Is Over. The Diane Rehm Podcast Is Just Beginning". The Diane Rehm Show. December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Rosenwald, Michael (February 14, 2015). "NPR host Diane Rehm emerges as key force in the right-to-die debate". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  6. ^ Rehm, Diane (1999). Finding My Voice. Herndon, Virginia: Capital Books, Inc.
  7. ^ Harris, Shane (April 11, 2012). "What Made Me: NPR's Diane Rehm". The Washingtonian. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  8. ^ "JOHN B. REHM". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  9. ^ Fox, Maggie (July 8, 2014). "Diane Rehm: My Husband's Slow, Deliberate Death Was Unnecessary". NBC News. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Rosenwald, Michael S. (February 14, 2015). "NPR host Diane Rehm emerges as key force in the right-to-die debate". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Gatewood, Miranda. "Networking: Whos Whos, Whats What for Business Executives, "The Diane Rehm Show," A WOMAN'S VOICE". Networking Magazine. Archived from the original on March 28, 2006.
  12. ^ Ruben, Barbara (January 2010). "Rehm is the queen of talk radio". The Beacon.
  13. ^ "The Diane Rehm Show: Finding My Voice". WAMU 88.5 FM, American University Radio. Archived from the original on August 12, 2006.
  14. ^ Diane Rehm. "On My Own by Diane Rehm — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Goodreads.com. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  15. ^ On My Own, by Diane Rehm. Booklist Online. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  16. ^ Holleran, Andrew (February 2, 2016). "ON MY OWN by Diane Rehm". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  17. ^ Lindbergh, Reeve. "Review: In 'On My Own,' Diane Rehm argues for the right to die". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  18. ^ Folkenflik, David. "Radio's Diane Rehm, A Mainstay Of Civil Discourse, Signs Off". Morning Edition. National Public Radio. December 23, 2016.
  19. ^ a b "CPB Liberal Bias Study Flawed, Critics Say". Washingtonpost.com. July 1, 2005. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  20. ^ "Kenneth Tomlinson & the Mann Report". Project for Excellence in Journalism. March 13, 2006. Archived from the original on May 9, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  21. ^ "Kenneth Tomlinson Quits Public Broadcasting Board". Washingtonpost.com. November 4, 2005. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  22. ^ "Diane Rehm". IMDb. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  23. ^ "News Roundup: Hour 1". Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  24. ^ a b Gold, Hadas (June 10, 2015). "Bernie Sanders offended by Diane Rehm's Israeli citizenship question". Politico. Washington, D.C. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  25. ^ a b c Tesfaye, Sophia (June 10, 2015). "Diane Rehm's massive Bernie Sanders "oops": NPR host falls for anti-Semitic Israeli citizenship hoax". Salon. San Francisco, California. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Reback, Gedalyah (June 10, 2015). "Radio host quizzes Jewish candidate Sanders on Israeli citizenship". The Times of Israel. Jerusalem, Israel. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  27. ^ Hensch, Mark (June 10, 2015). "Sanders blasts Internet 'nonsense': 'I do not have dual citizenship with Israel'". The Hill. Washington, D.C. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  28. ^ Marshall, Josh (June 11, 2015). "Sorry, Diane, That's BS". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  29. ^ Bernstein, David (June 11, 2015). "Why did Diane Rehm fall for an anti-Semitic hoax?". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  30. ^ Jepsen, Elizabeth (June 12, 2015). "Diane Rehm And A Bungled Interview With Senator Bernie Sanders". NPR. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  31. ^ a b Rosenwald, Michael (March 10, 2015), "Following criticism, NPR host Diane Rehm scales back efforts in right-to-die debate", The Washington Post, p. B-3
  32. ^ Rosenwald, Michael S. (February 14, 2015), "NPR host Diane Rehm emerges as key force in the right-to-die debate", The Washington Post
  33. ^ "Personal Award: Diane Rehm". The Peabody Awards. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  34. ^ "ACCESS honors Arab Americans of the Year at event » Ventura County Star". Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  35. ^ "The President Presents the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on June 18, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2014 – via National Archives.
  36. ^ "Diane Rehm and Khizr Khan to Receive 2017 Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award from Interfaith Alliance". Interfaith Alliance. January 12, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Diane Rehm at Wikimedia Commons