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Philly Commentator Karen M.Turner Sounds off on SNL Hires & the NFL Rant Heard Around the World

Philadelphia, PA - On Saturday January 25, 2014, tune in to Inside the Issues with Host Dr. Wilmer J. Leon on Sirius/XM. His guest from 1pm to 2pm will be Philadelphia Commentator and Temple University Journalism Professor Karen M. Turner.  Dr. Leon and Professor Turner will discuss the relevance of "Saturday Night Live's" recent hire of an African-American woman, comedian Sasheer Zamata, to the show’s cast.

Zamata, the first African American cast member since 2007, made her debut January 18, after the show was criticized for its lack of black women. Behind the scenes, "SNL" also added two new African-American women writers.

During a recent article in the Philadelphia Tribune, Turner, who teaches a class on race at Temple University, praised the sketch comedy show for expanding its ethnic diversity off-screen as well with the hiring of writers LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as writers, but she said she still has reservations about whether the new hires will be subjected to playing stereotypical characters.

“My real concern was that you bring on this Black character, but if you don’t have anyone who understands or has a sense of what it is like being Black and female in America then the sketches could very well end up being very stereotypical,” explained Turner. The 137 regular cast members who have been part of “Saturday Night Live” since its 1975 debut have been mostly white and have included only four Black women. The most recent was biracial Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007.

“The problem is bigger than SNL,” continued Turner. “I watch these award programs specifically to see who the producers are and programs that are well received, like ‘The Daily Show’ and Stephen Colbert, and I don’t see any Black faces there. I don’t know where these people are, because they are certainly in L.A. — and I know people, people who have graduated from our media and film programs who have gone out there and I know of struggling writers. They are not getting the breaks.”

On Saturday, Turner and Radio Host Dr. Wilmer Leon will also discuss the racial backlash caused after Seattle Seahawks corner Richard Sherman made controversial comments during a post game interview with sports reporter Erin Andrews. Sherman's so-called rant about an opposing player went viral and the NFL fined him.

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About Karen M. Turner

Karen M. Turner is an associate professor and director of the broadcast journalism concentration in the Department of Journalism at Temple University.  She served as department chair from 2000-2003.

Ms. Turner teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in broadcast journalism, performance, race studies, and media law and ethics. She is a 2013 recipient of the Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award and was selected the inaugural recipient of the School of Communications and Theater’s Innovative Teaching award in 2004.  Turner was awarded a Spring 2011 sabbatical to take a reflective look at her online race media studies course that she’s taught since 1997. 

Before joining the Temple faculty in 1992, Turner was the press secretary to former Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell.  She has extensive experience as a radio journalist and talk radio interviewer having worked in such markets as Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New Brunswick, NJ.

Turner has degrees from Dartmouth College, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Northwestern University School of Law. She is a 2012 recipient of the Certificate in Diversity Leadership.

To interview Karen M. Turner contact Tandi Wilder at She Got Game Media, twilder@shegotgame.com or (914) 572-3671. Follow Karen M. Turner on Twitter @KarenMTurner.