Why I love ...
NPR’s Diane Rehm
shares what makes
the holiday season
in our nation’s
capital so special
BY JEFF FICKER
Though New York City garners much
attention during the holidays, the
nation’s capital knows how to show a
little spirit, too, says National Public
Radio talk show host Diane Rehm.
“The holidays are so pretty,” says Rehm, who is a
frequent guest at one of the best holiday parties in the
city—the annual White House fête. “You’re in this
home, which truly is a home as well as a monument,”
she says, “to see the gorgeous rooms and gorgeous
decorations. It’s breathtaking.”
A native Washingtonian, Rehm grew up in the northwestern part of the city near American University, where
she now broadcasts The Diane Rehm Show. “It’s one of
the highest points of the city,” Rehm says. “You go past the
Washington National Cathedral and keep going up. It’s a
beautiful neighborhood—lots of trees and wide streets.”
In two and a half decades at WAMU, Rehm has
carved out a niche all her own, outshining the commercial talk radio competition, which has been largely
dominated by male hosts with partisan agendas and
inflammatory assertions. The public radio show host
has created a forum for compelling conversations
about today’s issues. The Diane Rehm Show, called
one of the country’s most interesting talk shows by
Newsweek magazine, provides an in-depth mix of
current events, medical news, history and the arts.
Public radio listeners have embraced the show’s intelligent, never-pandering discourse.
Yet, it is Rehm’s engaging manner and signature
voice that have endeared her to nearly 1 million weekly
listeners, as well as an impressive roster of guests who
have made her show a regular stop. They range from
politicians and policymakers to leading authors and
artists, including former presidents Jimmy Carter
and Bill Clinton, literary notables Alice Walker and
Salman Rushdie, and celebrity luminaries like Audrey
Hepburn and Queen Noor of Jordan.
The daughter of immigrants—Rehm’s father moved
from Lebanon in 1907 and her mother emigrated from
Egpyt in 1928—her family has called D.C. home since her
family moved to the capital and opened a grocery store
at 19th & Wyoming avenues, NW, in the 1930s.
And despite toying with the idea of joining the foreign
service in her 20s, Rehm has never left Washington.
“I love this city,” she says. “It’s home to me.”
Best Places To...
Get in the Spirit
The National Christmas Tree
“[My husband] John and I like to drive
down at night to Ellipse to see the
Christmas lights.” The Rehms aren’t
alone. The annual lighting of the National
Christmas Tree in early December draws
thousands to the White House Ellipse.
Enjoy a Holiday Meal
Kinkead’s, An American Brasserie
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., N W
“Kinkead’s is probably one of the best
five-star restaurants in the city,” Rehm
says. “It is absolutely outstanding.” James
Beard winner Bob Kinkead creates one
of the best dining experiences in D.C.
Find Last-Minute Gifts
5300 Wisconsin Ave., NW
“The Corby Collection on the lower level
of Mazza Gallerie is where I purchase
most of my clothes,” Rehm says. “It’s also
a divine store for picking up little items as
gifts, which I would refer to as ‘nim-nims.’”
Celebrate with Friends
4822 Yuma St., N W
“It’s where the neighborhood comes
together,” Rehm says. The local Italian
restaurant is a popular choice and features
traditional favorites like veal scaloppini
and linguine alla vongole.