Femi Redwood is an award-winning journalist who is unafraid to ask tough questions or have uncomfortable conversations that lead to teachable moments. Most recently, Femi was a host and managing producer of podcasts at 1010 WINS, the most-listened-to news radio station in the country, and its sister station, WCBS Newsradio 880. In this role, she launched several successful shows, including Beyond Black History Month, a weekly narrative podcast, which Femi hosted, that celebrated Black culture while amplifying issues important to marginalized communities. Before transitioning into audio, Femi spent over a decade in local and national TV news, including working as an on-air correspondent in prominent newsrooms such as CBS Newspath and VICE News. Femi is the chair of the National Association of Black Journalists’ LGBTQ+ Task Force, where she helped launch two new scholarships to help Black LGBTQ+ college students. She is also a board member of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists. In this position, she teaches journalists how to cover the LGBTQ+ community, which in turn helps readers and listeners trust journalists with their stories.
To learn more about Femi, who lives in Brooklyn with her wife and cat, we pass the mic to her.
Welcome, Femi! Why Epicenter?
I am drawn to Epicenter because I firmly believe in journalism’s important role in our society. It’s crucial to deliver stories that empower families in New York City to make well-informed decisions about all aspects of their lives, including who they vote for, how each policy will affect their community, or what type of affordable housing will best suit their families. It is also essential to extend our reach as journalists to every corner of New York City beyond Manhattan. Epicenter does all of this. Its dedication to mirroring the city’s diversity within its newsroom stands out. This, in turn, allows for storytelling that truly reflects NYC. Epicenter was born out of a commitment to help community members who were not being served by other newsrooms. I am beyond thrilled to contribute to a newsroom dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives.
What brought you to New York? What keeps you in New York?
I didn’t grow up in New York City but spent most holidays and summer breaks in the Bronx and Brooklyn visiting family. And because my father’s job moved us around a lot, NYC was the consistent place I felt the most connected to and where some of my fondest memories took root: from walking in the West Indian Day Parade at a young age to spending nights on my aunt’s Co-op City balcony watching the lights of the city sky.
This connection was so strong that in high school, I even had a calendar counting the days until I could move to NYC. Granted, I attended Jackson State University (a proud HBCU grad), but I made NYC my permanent home shortly after graduation.
What anchors me to NYC isn’t just the culture itself but the profound sense of community that defines so many neighborhoods. For example, take Old Man Larry on my street. If I forget to move my car during alternate side street parking, he buzzes me to come down when NYPD begins ticketing. Or Ms.Diane, a staple in this building since the 70s, whose stories from her youth are hilarious. Those stories were a beacon of joy when my wife was undergoing strenuous cancer treatments. And then there’s Vern, who uses a cane to walk yet defies age with the thoughtful gesture of ensuring our packages, even when filled with bags of cat litter, find their way to our door.
These aren’t just fleeting interactions; they’re threads that weave the fabric of a true community: small, seemingly mundane acts of kindness that, when stitched together, create a tapestry of mutual care and support.
There are many stories like this throughout NYC and several communities who look out for each other. That’s what makes NYC not just an urban playground but a home. Nearly two decades in, I’m not sure if I get to call myself a “New Yorker” just yet, but this is my home.
Umm, tell us about all those rat videos on Tik Tok that went viral…
I am terrified of mice and rats. I did my college journalism internship in New Orleans, and one night, I saw a mouse in my apartment. I was terrified, so I slept in my car in a Walmart parking lot until my roommate’s boyfriend came over the next day to find the mouse. When I moved to NYC, I thought that staring at rats in subway stations might help me overcome my fear. Nope. That strategy backfired and only taught me how agile, bold, and fast they are. They are so nimble and quick that despite always being on high alert in the subway, I didn’t see a rat running in my direction one day. It jumped on my foot and used the bare skin exposed by the ballet flats I wore as a springboard. That said, those rat videos were my warning to New Yorkers that the city has lost its war against rats. The rat czar can’t save us. Cats can’t save us. At this point, we have to stay out of the rats’ way.
Why community journalism?
I consumed a lot of news growing up. Even at a young age, I thought about how I would approach a story when I grew up. My perspective was always community-focused: things like the unique challenges people of color faced as it related to the reported topic or the specific ways funding could benefit various localities. I didn’t have a word for it at the time, but looking back, it’s clear my aspirations were rooted in the principles of community journalism. This type of work makes a difference in the lives of others. It caters to our communities’ particular and diverse needs and enacts meaningful change. The focus is on more than just reporting news. This work also focuses on making connections, understanding narratives, and advocating for change. This is why I am drawn to community journalism.
You’ve been involved in the National Association of Black Journalists and the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists. Tell us about how your work in these two organizations and squarely in intersectional causes informs your lens as an editor.
My work with these organizations constantly reminds me of the necessity of viewing news through an intersectional lens. As an editor, I always want to ensure that news coverage is not a monolith but acknowledges how those intersectional identities result in different experiences. For example, a story of access to healthcare looks very different when the center of said story is cisgender and white versus someone who is Black and transgender. While no single story can encapsulate every viewpoint or perspective, when we approach journalism through an intersectional lens, we share a narrative that reflects the complex realities of our society. This doesn’t favor one perspective over another but recognizes and respects the diversity of experiences.
We always end interviews by asking this: What do you need?
I have a laundry list of things I need: affordable fresh seafood, fewer rats around the trash cans outside my building, and more space in my tiny kitchen. But in terms of this new role, I always need story ideas. Community members know what stories are not being told. So please reach out if there are stories that we are missing. You can reach Femi via email at email@example.com.