Rick Dunn was born in Washington, DC and graduated from Calvin Coolidge High School. He was attending Ohio University in Athens, Ohio when he came to Athens, Georgia in 1971 for an internship at WGTV Channel 8. While on the University of Georgia campus, the admissions department learned he was here and at the time were actively recruiting African American students and recruited him to attend. He decided to take advantage of the financial aid offered and finished his bachelor’s degree in journalism at UGA. While in Athens he helped start an African American community focused newspaper, the Athens Voice. He then moved to Tuskegee, Alabama and started the Tuskegee Voice, then moved to Atlanta and worked for the Atlanta Voice. He left that job to work as the National Communications Officer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for 3 years. He moved back to Athens and started the Athens Courier newspaper and also worked with the county health department as a health educator and then with the state Department of Public Health. Rick also worked as a part of a team on a statewide male involvement program, which was a teen pregnancy prevention program geared towards boys. Rick worked at UGA at the Center for African American Research, at the state Labor Department, and with the Department of Family and Child Services before working for many years as the Clarke County School District Graduation Coach Coordinator, where he retired from five years ago. Throughout all those 38 plus years, Rick has hosted a weekly radio show, “Community Forum,” now the longest running radio talk show in Northeast Georgia. The show airs Thursdays on WXAG 92.7 FM/1470 AM, from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The show covers politics, community issues, health, what’s going on in Athens and more. In 2010, while he was working to help to increase graduation rates in Athens, he was struck with the idea to give voice to young people via the airways and launched “Education Matters” a weekly show hosted by local teens. It airs Saturday mornings from 10 – 11 on WXAG. He founded the nonprofit The High School Completion Initiative, for which the Education Matters radio show is the main program. They also have an internet radio station. You can listen (and donate!) on http://www.emnmedia.net/. Rick currently works part time at Foothills Charter School as a graduation coach and lives on the West Side of Athens with his wife, Mary.
What do you love most about your career and the work you do?
Service. I love helping people find resources or accomplish their goals. I love giving back.
When you are not working, what are some of your favorite things to do in Athens?
Nothing! Any time I get a chance to do nothing, I do it. But, you know going to the Lady Dawgs basketball games is a big thing. That, and going to Georgia football games, are my favorite things to do. My wife is a big sports fan so we like to do that and take the grandkids. That is pretty much it; if I am not working or helping someone do some kind of community service, I like to be home and be quiet. I spend enough time out of the house.
If you could see any band, musician or show anywhere, who would it be and where?
Kem, they are such a smooth group, and I don’t care where I have to go to see them. I guess if I could choose anywhere to go see somebody, I have never been to Denver so I would go see them there in Colorado. That is a place I have always wanted to go, but never did.
Do you have a favorite book or a book you find yourself rereading, gifting or referencing most often?
The Road Less Traveled, [by M. Scott Peck].
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It is the same thing as my favorite quote, stop doubting and believe. I think as young people we waste so much time doubting our abilities and if we just choose to believe, we could accomplish so much more.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would go to St. Croix. I would go to the U.S. Virgin Islands because I love the beaches there.
Do you have a favorite movie or remember the first movie you saw in a movie theatre?
I remember the first movie that is probably stuck in my mind as a kid was Dr. No. We just saw Judas and the Messiah and that movie shook me. It shook me, and even though it was talking about the sixties, it is not a whole lot different than what we see the government doing today. I would probably say right now that is my number one movie.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I like to cook, and I like being quiet.
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
It would be Dr. Martin Luther King at a place that doesn’t even exist anymore Paschal’s Brothers Hotel. I am not talking about the new Paschal Brothers, I am talking about the old one. Dr. King was my hero growing up, and that is what made working at the SCLC so special, because I got to work in the same building that he worked in, I got to sit in the same chairs and desk and communicate with people he had worked with. That was really an awesome experience for me. So, yeah I would want to have lunch with Dr. King, and I would want to do it in that restaurant because that restaurant was so significant to the civil rights movement.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home?”
Love, peace and happiness.