Shereen Marisol Meraji is a podcaster, educator, and journalist who resides in the United States. She is a graduate of the Nieman Fellowship program that was held at Harvard University, and she currently works as an assistant professor of race in journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She was one of the founding co-hosts and senior producers of Code Switch, a podcast that received widespread acclaim for its coverage of race, culture, and identity. Code Switch was one of the podcasts with the highest charting positions on NPR in 2020.
Meraji was the product of a Puerto Rican mother and an Iranian father, and she was born and raised in the Northern California region. Meraji was picked on by her classmates because of her Iranian ancestry when she was a young girl. Meraji’s multiethnic background has influenced the way in which she approaches stories and journalism. She stated in an interview with Latina magazine that “never having really belonged, being on the margins while observing everything, that’s made me a natural journalist – not quite a part of something, always observing” has shaped her approach to stories and journalism.
Meraji attended San Francisco State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Raza Studies. Meraji began her professional life working in radio as a producer and reporter, contributing her services to a variety of programs and organizations while also freelancing. She began her career at National Public Radio in 2003, where she served as a producer and director for the midday show Day to Day as well as a producer for All Things Considered, the flagship newsmagazine of NPR.
She began her career as a reporter for business and the economy at Southern California Public Radio in 2011, and in 2012, she began reporting for the Wealth & Poverty desk at Marketplace. In 2013, Meraji made her return to NPR, this time serving as a race and culture reporter on the team that would eventually establish the Code Switch blog. In 2014, Meraji was dispatched to Ferguson, Missouri, in order to report on the unrest that ensued after the shooting death of Michael Brown at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Meraji related an experience in which a portion of her report that had captured an interview with a protester was removed from a radio program. This led to some listeners accusing her of failing to report on perspectives held by all parties involved. “This inspired me to start a podcast so that there would be more time for nuanced conversations so that we could discuss the grey areas, and we could demonstrate that there are more than two sides to every story.
Alongside Meraji’s other Code Switch podcast co-host Gene Demby, Meraji was one of the original hosts of NPR’s Code Switch podcast, which debuted in 2016. Meraji has stated that one of her hopes for the podcast is that it will make “these issues more accessible to a broader audience.” The podcast focuses on race, culture, and identity. The work that Meraji did was part of an emerging trend in the content and analysis of the news that involved engaging younger audiences that were more diverse, often by picking up on themes that were first advanced from social media platforms, blogs, and popular culture.
According to an interview that took place with Meraji by WWD in July 2016, the podcast had more than one million downloads within its first two months on the air. Meraji aimed to create an inclusive space for discussing topical issues such as the shooting of Philando Castile, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the perspective of supporters of President Donald Trump during the 2016 election. In the year 2020, the assassination of George Floyd caused a significant increase in the number of people tuning in to watch Code Switch.
With episodes such as “Why Now White People?” the show became the most downloaded podcast in the country for a short period of time. Meraji was awarded a fellowship from the International Reporting Project in 2007 and used the money to travel to Beirut, Lebanon, where she reported on the youth culture there. Meraji gained attention for her 2014 feature for the Third Coast Festival titled “Audio Code Switching: Tackling Race on the Radio,” which focused on the apparent lack of diversity in the voices that are represented in public radio.
This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “public radio voice,” and it is one of the reasons why Meraji’s work garnered so much attention “as well as the requirement for more extensive dissemination of a variety of narratives and voices. In addition, she presided over the festival’s judging panel in the year 2015.
Meraji was given awards by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in both 2015 and 2016. The award she received in 2016 was for a story she wrote about an encouraging scout leader who worked with a group of boys who were at risk. The announcement that Code Switch had been chosen as “Show of the Year” was made by Apple Podcasts in December 2020. This was the first time that Apple Podcasts had recognized a single podcast as being “Show of the Year.”Nicholas Espiritu, an attorney specializing in civil rights, is Meraji’s husband.
|Popular As||Shereen Marisol Meraji|
|Town/City||Northern California, United States|
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