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Teshima Walker, award-winning NPR producer, passes after long cancer battle

(August 17, 2013) The award-winning executive producer of NPR's Tell Me More, Teshima Walker Izreal, died Friday morning, August 16 at the age of 44 after a two-year battle with colon cancer. She is survived by her husband, writer Jimi Izrael, her parents, William and Vonceal Walker and her sister, Eureva Walker.

Since 2011, Walker was the executive producer for NPR's midday news program Tell Me More, hosted by Michel Martin. Walker was part of the public radio family for more than a decade. She first joined the afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered as a journalism fellow in 2000. Later she spent three years as a producer for The Tavis Smiley Show, and then for News and Notes.

In 2007, Walker signed on as senior supervising producer of Tell Me More, and served the program in various capacities for the next six years. A Chicago native, Walker first came to NPR by way of WBEZ, where she was a senior producer for morning newsmagazine Eight Forty-Eight.

Walker's NPR colleagues knew her as a "Southside Chicago girl to the core," with an infectious laugh, and as someone who put herself aside for everyone.

"Teshima was a terrific journalist who worked tirelessly to bring new and diverse voices to air," says Ellen McDonnell, executive editor for NPR News Programming. "She was a phenomenal advocate for the show, the staff and the audience. Tell Me More and everyone who was lucky enough to work with Teshima thrived under her leadership."

"Teshima made us all want to dig a little deeper, think harder, and be better," shares Tell Me More host Michel Martin. "She was everything you could want in a manager and friend: kind and open-hearted when you needed her to be, and tough, but fair, when you needed her to be. While I already miss her amazing laugh and her incredible off-key rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song, I know I am better for having heard them both. We are all very grateful for the time we had with her, and thank her husband, parents and sister for sharing these precious last days with us."

Prior to working at NPR, Walker served as a senior producer for the WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio's Eight Forty-Eight, a daily morning drive program focusing on news, views, people and culture. She was the recipient of the 1999 Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism. She worked with another producer and graduate student on a play at the Illinois Department of Corrections Youth Center in Warrenville, Illinois called: "If You Only Knew".

When Cathy Hughes, founder of TV One and Radio One created the talk network -- Syndication One, Walker left NPR to work as the network's assistant program director. Walker was responsible for helping to develop and manage daily production for the talk programs featuring author Michael Eric Dyson, Civil Rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, legal expert Warren Ballentine, and comedian Sheryl Underwood.

Walker graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville with a degree in Communications. She was a life-time member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Walker received her Masters of Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


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