About

For more than 20 years I’ve reported on social issues such as health, education, culture, politics, race, gender, and the environment.

Just out of graduate school, I began contributing articles about film, television and books to The Village Voice and The LA Weekly.  Later, I wrote for publications such as The Washington Post as well as The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Vibe, Essence, and many others.  I also wrote and produced for NPR briefly, and later contributed on-air commentaries.

I’ve also published three books

I See Black People:The Rise and Fall of African American-Owned Television and Radio published by Nation Books in 2008, is a collection of frank and intimate conversations with owners of radio and tv stations, large and small. Through their recollections, the book examines the mystery of why so few minorities and women own media outlets in America.

Black Women’s Lives: Stories of Power and Pain, published by Nation Books in 2006, has real-life, personal portraits of women that I find absolutely fascinating: an organic dairy farmer in Bakersfield, Vermont whose son was killed in the first Gulf War;  a high-powered corporate executive who adopted twin girls; an principal in Georgia who started the first sugar-free elementary school in America; a  filmmaker and television director who created “Love and Basketball”; and others. This book went into its third printing within the first year of its publication and is my personal favorite.

My first book, published in 1999 by Oxford University Press is Color By Fox: the Fox Network and the Revolution in Black Television. Since this was a revised version of my dissertation it’s more academic, but it offers great context for those who are passionate about cultural studies and the entertainment industry.   In it, I go behind the scenes of popular African American television show such as “In Living Color,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Martin,” “New York Undercover,” “The Sinbad Show,” “Living Single,” “Roc,” and “South Central” to interview more than 65 mostly African American producers, directors and television executives about race and television representation during this era. 

I’ve been a frequent guest speaker on college campuses, and have appeared on television outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, MTV, Fox, BET, PBS, and TV-One, as well as radio stations such as Pacifica Radio, Air America, and NPR, where I have worked as both a commentator and a segment producer.

In 2007, I was offered a full-time teaching position at Hofstra University on Long Island. The campus is about 35 miles east of New York City, where I live.  Since then I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with our enthusiastic students as an associate professor of journalism, and as director of our M.A. Journalism program.

I hope you find something in my work that is useful to you – something that moves you. Please drop me a line and share your thoughts, kristal.zook@hofstra.edu.

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