A Conversation with… Dan Rodricks

“I like to look for sunlight here and there, where people are doing good things.”

Living Classrooms has been in the news a lot more lately, and we have Dan Rodricks to thank for that. 

By: Keombre McLaughlin

Dan has been a Baltimorean since 1976 when he moved here from New England. He started his career as a general assignment reporter at the Sun, covering crime, police, housing and more. After three years, the Sun offered Dan his own column. Initially, his column was reporting-based, but eventually he formed his own unique opinion voice. He has written over 6,000 articles for the Sun, and has hosted several broadcast programs. Now, more than 40 years later, Dan is still using his words to make a difference.

Q: What did you do before you wrote commentary? What was that transition like?

A: “Starting in 1976 or so, I was a general assignment reporter for the Evening Sun…I was a reporter in college, I interned on newspapers as a reporter…The editors of the Evening Sun in 1979 gave me a column and I was as shocked as anybody.”

Q: How has the press played a role in shaping how Baltimore is perceived?
How has your role connected to this larger one?

A: “For a period of time, I don’t think [the Sun] covered the Black community at all or very well. We have dug in deeper over the last 20 years, I believe. But early on, mostly our reporting on a huge segment of the Baltimore community was limited to writing about crime, drug addiction, and decay in neighborhoods. Not really digging in deeper to see…the issues that affected life in Baltimore and kept people in poverty. I think the Sun became more enlightened and progressive overtime.”

“Opening my eyes to the problems of ex-offenders…was like an epiphany for me. Men and women come out of prison and need help getting started again. “

Q: Since you moved to Baltimore in 1976, you have written a lot about different issues in Baltimore city. In your opinion, what is Living Classrooms Foundation’s most critical programming?

A: The recidivism rate was pretty high in Maryland when I started writing about this. It was 60% or higher, the national rate was like 71% so that’s failure…Project Serve really excites me because those who come out of prison are given jobs right away, they are given guidance. There’s a good group spirit where people are supporting each other all going through the same thing together. And they get paid right away.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?

A: “I like to go stand in the river with a stick and try to catch trout…The experience of being in the same environment as the trout, standing in the river, observing the water, the birds, the insects, the bugs and the trout is meditative for me. Its peaceful, it takes me away from the things I normally think about, crime and the problems of the city. It is good to sort of clear my head for a couple hours”

Stay tuned!

Dan plans to profile Living Classrooms’ Fresh Start program in the coming weeks.