It was an honor to interview Rob Taylor, who runs one of the city’s most respected publications as editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.
Throughout our interview, I was impressed by Rob’s willingness to write, even at such a young age. And wherever he worked, he was determined to include black voices.
Speaking of voice, Ohioans might recognize Rob’s. After graduating from Ohio State University, Rob spent years producing and hosting radio shows. From Urban One Radio in Columbus to ESPN Radio in Dayton to 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, Rob has become very well known in the broadcast business.
With a mission to share positive black stories, Rob explained how the New Pittsburgh Courier continues to honor its century-old heritage. Read our full interview below.
Where do you come from?
I am a Pittsburgher born and raised in Highland Park.
What made you decide to become a reporter?
When I was little, I took a notepad everywhere. I always wrote down my thoughts. As I got older, I fell in love with reading sports stories from Ed Bouchette and Bob Smizik, which inspired me to start writing.
In fourth grade, I started a newsletter called Rob’s Wide World of Sports, which I borrowed from ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”. I remember writing it by hand, about four pages long, making copies at the post office, and sending it to friends. He has become quite popular with my group of friends.
In high school, I started The Beat, a typewritten publication covering everything related to the Central Catholic Church.
Writing has always come naturally to me, so I’ve always found ways to do it.
Where did you go to school
I graduated from Ohio State University in 2003 – it was there that I founded and published Black Horizons Magazine, an idea inspired by Chris Moore’s “Black Horizons” community affairs programming on WQED. (Read more about it here.)
In first year, I joined the African American Student Services group and started working on their quarterly magazine. In my second year, I was able to expand it to a larger staff, rename it, and secure funding from the student association.
Where was your first job?
Technically, my first job in journalism was my internship at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Through the Summer Youth Works program, I had the opportunity to learn from journalists and editors in a newsroom when I was 16.
In my first year of college, I started writing for The Call and Post, a popular African-American weekly based in Cleveland. I covered sports, crime, news and other stories as a freelance writer for the Columbus edition.
After graduating from college, I moved to Dayton, Ohio where I spent a lot of time working with different music and sports radio stations as an on-air talent. For 12 years I worked full time with a hip-hop station and at the same time I worked for ESPN radio in Dayton. I was also a freelance writer for the Dayton Daily News.
How did you get to Pittsburgh?
After I left Dayton, I moved to Pittsburgh in an attempt to bond, so I started talking to different reporters.
In 2001, I started freelancing for the Courier, so I met Rod Doss, the publisher of The Courier, and Ulish Carter, the editor-in-chief of The Courier at the time.
When Ulish retired in early 2017, I was offered the job. Even after I accepted, I continued to travel to Cleveland every weekend to become the weekend sports presenter on 92.3 The Fan, but I stopped doing so when the pandemic hit.
Tell us about New Pittsburgh Courier.
The Pittsburgh Courier is a 111-year-old publication focused on sharing stories about and for African-American communities in Pittsburgh. Founded in 1910, it quickly became one of the best-selling black newspapers and one of the first to publish local and national editions. After being sold in the 1960s, it was later renamed the New Pittsburgh Courier and now has a mission to share positive news about the black community that is not shared in other publications.
The Courier’s famous staff include Bill Nunn, a former Pittsburgh Steelers scout and now a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and Charles “Teenie” Harris, a legendary photographer.
Do you want to know more about the astonishing history of the Courier? Check out these stories:
New Pittsburgh Courier one of the few black newspapers in the country (WPXI) A Beacon for Change: The Story of the Pittsburgh Courier (PBS)
How has the pandemic affected the Courier?
Our goal has always been to defend the black community, so the pandemic has given us the opportunity to highlight inequalities.
For example, in February, we were the only publication to go to the Allegheny County Department of Health to publish the exact number of African Americans getting vaccinated. Once we were able to shed light on the problem, we saw several organizations take the initiative to partner with black churches to distribute vaccines. This is the type of story the Courier is known for. This is why we were able to build trust and credibility with the black community that continues to subscribe.
The pandemic has strained many news agencies, but we knew we had to keep the Courier going. It was the biggest story – a one-time virus in a century that disproportionately affected African Americans. It was essential that we were here to say so.
Fortunately, we were able to retain subscribers, but we had to reduce. Currently I’m the only full-time person in the editorial department, so we have to be careful about what we can cover. We also have the help of 15 paid freelancers and our beloved photographer, Ricco JL Martello. Ultimately, we’re looking to shine a light on new people while continuing to cover news, sports, entertainment, and health.
What is one of your most memorable stories?
A few years ago, I interviewed Brennan Marion. He is best known for his career as a professional footballer and coach, but what many don’t know about him is that he comes from the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh where he admits he was “not at. safe from violence “. Before getting a scholarship to play football at the University of Tulsa, he was homeless, even while pursuing football. He thought he was successful when he arrived at the US Conference Championship game with Tulsa, until he tore his ACL in that game. While this scared off the NFL scouts, he was eventually signed with the Miami Dolphins. After tearing his ACL for the third time, he knew his playing career was over. But that didn’t stop him. He started coaching and in February he was appointed Pitt football’s wide receivers coach.
Her story is so inspiring. It is a good reminder for black students to keep their faith and keep working hard. I know we didn’t hear the last time from him. He’s only 34, but I think he could be the next Mike Tomlin.
Check out Rob’s full story on Marion here.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am still a huge sports fan. My favorite teams are the Steelers, Buckeyes and Dayton Flyers.
The New Pittsburgh Courier publishes a print copy every Wednesday. Subscribe to receive home delivery or pick up the latest issue from newsstands, including 18 Giant Eagle and GetGo locations.
– Robin Rectenwald, WordWrite