Veteran journalist April Ryan perfectly exemplifies the sentiment expressed by the actor Eddie Cantor that “it takes twenty years to become an overnight success.” Ms. Ryan has toiled for exactly 20 years as the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) – an outlet barely known outside the African-American community, but prominent within it as the only Black-owned radio company in the nation. Ryan previously spent a decade working her way up the chain to news director at several other radio outlets.
On May 2, the National Association of Black Journalists announced that it has named Ryan its “Journalist of the Year,” inducting her into the ranks of legendary news pros like Ed Bradley, Carl T. Rowan, Max Robinson, Gwen Ifill, and Bernard Shaw. Over most of her time at AURN, Ryan has been the only Black female in the briefing room. Therefore, to the eye that notices such things, she stands out. Yet, she is the kind of old-fashioned news professional who has never sought to be the story. She has climbed quietly, but steadily through sheer doggedness and hard work, reporting on and recording private interviews with three presidents, and increasingly as a guest on Sunday morning news shows.
But recently, several dust-ups with the new president and his press secretary have catapulted Ryan into the national spotlight. President Trump famously asked Ryan in February if she could set up a meeting between the White House and the Congressional Black Caucus, and Sean Spicer compounded the impression of a tone-deaf administration when he scolded her for “shaking her head” at one of his answers. This set off a Twitter firestorm (#BlackWomenatWork) and a national conversation about how Black women are treated in the workplace.
Still, she persisted.
It looks like Ryan’s hard work has paid off. Early in April, CNN announced that it has signed her as a political analyst.
Welcome, Ms April Ryan, to the national stage.