Former WDET Host Nkenge Zola Has Died

The 101.9 WDET staffer and host began working at the station in 1976 and leaves behind a deep legacy in the city.

Nkenge Zola, former 101.9 WDET staffer and host of “All Things Considered” has died. 

Zola and I worked together at WDET for roughly eight years. Whenever I thought of her, which was often, she was laughing, smiling and educating folks – whether they wanted to be taught or not. During that time, she gave me instruction as a news intern, coached me on my voicing and gave me the low down about some of the “real” history at WDET.

She regularly urged us to live “in the moment fully.” I’ll continue to take her advice on that. I will miss her.

I worked with as her producer for a number of years on a short program we put together call “State Edition Plus.”

But most importantly, I got to watch her perform her craft on a daily basis. I got to learn how she thought about a story – often in very unconventional ways – before producing features that were nothing short of art.


Nkenge Zola On the Roots of Black Nationalism in Detroit

Zola’s work showed her love for Detroit and for Detroiters. She championed African culture in the city. She asked tough questions and didn’t let “officials” or anyone else get away with nonsense.

Courtesy Andrea Daniel
Courtesy Andrea Daniel

She began working at WDET in 1976. A couple of years later, she created a WDET program called “Everywhere Music Goes.” She started a new show, “The Nkenge Zola Program”, in 1985. It featured music and poetry, performances and interviews with artists from around the world. 

Zola moved to WDET’s news department in the early 1990s, and began hosting All Things Considered. 

She received awards for her work from many organizations including the Detroit Coalition of Human Rights, the Detroit Press Club, The Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the Associated Press. Zola won the Loretta Moore Feminist of the Year award from the Detroit Chapter of the National Organization of Women in 1997.

Zola even traveled to Africa for the United Nations’ “International Decade of Women” conference as part of a Detroit delegation.

Zola brought a deep sense of culture, language and history to everything she did. Those who knew her can think of a million more small things she did to shape our lives in big ways. She regularly urged us to live “in the moment fully.” I’ll continue to take her advice on that. I will miss her.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


  • Jerome Vaughn
    Jerome Vaughn is News Director at 101.9 WDET. His interest in news reporting began when he was five years old, after his mom bought him a yellow Panasonic ball and chain radio.