Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Cable-access talk show lets residents' voices be heard

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Move over, Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura. There's a new Ph.D. on the airwaves: "Dr. Dawn."

Dawn Harris, a 31-year-old speech language pathologist from Montgomery, hosts a new talk show called The Voice on the city's cable-access channel. The TV show is one of thousands produced through Media Bridges Cincinnati, the nonprofit group managing the city of Cincinnati's cable access programming.

Harris said The Voice is a forum designed to tackle tough issues facing Cincinnati. The show is taped once a month at Media Bridges and airs a total of five times at varying time slots on channels 15 and 24.

The next show will be taped on Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.

Some friends and family members have urged Harris to use her educational credentials like talk show hosts Dr. Phillip McGraw and Laura Schlessinger do.

"I'm fine with just Dawn," Harris said. "Dr. Dawn has kind of a psychological connotation to it, like I'm going to solve all your problems or something."

Harris, a Chicago native, moved to Montgomery five years ago to work on her doctorate at the University of Cincinnati. She had an undergraduate degree from Grambling State University and a master's degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

After graduating from UC in June 2002, Harris began working as a part-time professor at Xavier University, where she teaches English pronunciation and presentation skills to international corporate executives.

But Harris said she still felt unfulfilled. That's when she set her sights on TV.

"I've always had a hidden interest in being a talk show host," Harris said. "I knew I didn't want to do a (Jerry) Springer thing. I knew I didn't want to do an Oprah (Winfrey) thing.

"But I like to get people together to communicate and I like to be the mediator," she said.

Her first show aired about a month ago and focused on transsexuality in the workplace - a topic inspired by Cincinnati Police Officer Philecia Barnes, formerly Phillip Barnes, who successfully sued the city for harassment and discrimination after being demoted. Her second show, taped June 30, dealt with the boycott of downtown.

"A lot of people told me that I was stepping out a little hard with my first show," she said. "They said I should start with something light and work my way up to more difficult topics."

"But I decided my show was going to focus on hot topics people are talking about," she said. "I took on the harder topics so I could challenge myself."

Belinda Rawlins, executive director of Media Bridges, said Media Bridges offers classes to about 3,000 people and produces nearly 13,000 programs a year.

"This is the only place where people can comment on solutions to problems in the city on their own terms," Rawlins said.

For information about taping and air times, contact Media Bridges at 651-4171 or letstalktvshow@aol.com.


E-mail kaldridge@enquirer.com

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