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the first day of life without bob edwards.


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#1 kebbie

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 01:22 PM

i, for one, cried when i woke up this morning, flicked on my radio, and didn't hear bob's sonorous voice on NPR.

haven't found any discussion of bob's ousting here--are there any other NPR junkies out there? what do you make of the whole affair? did you try to pretend that bob was just on vacation when you heard the voice of steve inskeep this morning, too? wink.gif

it's a sad day in radio broadcasting.

-kate


#2 Christian

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 02:30 PM

NPR is on the “PBS track,” headed for oblivion. One of D.C.’s two NPR affiliates ditched its afternoon bluegrass show a few years ago, just as the music was finding a huge new audience, thanks to “O Brother Where Art Thou?” They claimed that the station’s listeners wanted news and talk programming during afternoon drive, so they supplied EXACTLY the same programming that the other NPR affiliate airs during that time block. Ah, diversity.

Last year the station that made the changes, WAMU, hit turbulence when it was discovered that its finances were in disarray. The station had huge debts, and no amount of talk about higher programming fees, etc., seemed to answer questions about the way the station was being run. Diane Rehm, whose daily program originates at WAMU, sided against the woman who ran the station, and that woman, whose name escapes me at the moment (I think it was Susan Clampitt) was terminated.

All the while, the station has claimed that its donations are stronger than ever. I remain doubtful – they don’t let the public view their books, and their ratings are also held close to the vest. At best, they have the same number of financial donors they had previously, but the low end of the radio dial sounds the same now – exactly the same – because NPR, like PBS, has to chase after the bottom line in this day and age of big corporate media, and they do that by appealing to the broadest demographic they can, while trying to feed listeners the same old line about how they’re a refuge in the wasteland of corporate radio.

Yeah, they can be refreshing, but a little more honesty and a lot less back-patting would make their medicine go down more easily.

Edited by Christian, 03 May 2004 - 02:31 PM.


#3 kebbie

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 03:13 PM

agreed, christian. with the bob edwards thing, there was also a lot of blustering about listeners' supposed "needs" (i personally haven't talked to a single person who thinks it's about time edwards got the heave-ho). like i said, i'm a self-proclaimed public radio junkie, but i'm starting to lose my faith.

#4 BethR

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:02 PM

QUOTE (kebbie @ May 3 2004, 02:21 PM)
haven't found any discussion of bob's ousting here--are there any other NPR junkies out there? what do you make of the whole affair? it's a sad day in radio broadcasting.

-kate

Bob Edwards was ousted?!? ohmy.gif I listen to NPR daily, but I rarely get to see a newspaper, & can't read the Washington Post article you linked to without registering. I knew he was leaving, but what-the---?

#5 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:24 PM

Indeed, details please about Edwards.

Christian, I don't think those changes should be judged as attack of corporate media. Here's why: if both are down the dial, neither will have top dollar on a sale that mgt would have to worry about, WDET here is in the middle of the dial at 101.9, some of us worry about that; further, it is listener supported so the programming could easily reflect the listeners' whims, rather than Nielson demos; also, because it is listener supported, the mgt doesn't have to worry about investor demand or foot voting for financing over the issue of format. This sounds like a pickayune battle over turf between to stations on the same network. It's silly, but possibly for different reasons than you suggest. Or it could be blindered mgt on the part of WAMU as to the "industry" of the town they broadcast to, ie. wanting to impress D.C. swells and all.

#6 Darrel Manson

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:32 PM

NPRs page honoring Edwards.

The LA Times story from last Friday
QUOTE
RADIO
For NPR host, the final 'Edition'
*The reassignment of broadcaster Bob Edwards provoked an avalanche of protests.

By Steve Carney, Special to The Times


Bob Edwards, one of radio's consummate interviewers, has found himself in his final days as host of National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" in the awkward position of subject rather than questioner.

"I'm sick and tired of that, frankly," said Edwards, who today ends a 24-year tenure at the helm of NPR's most popular show.

His final days have been filled with running a gantlet of interviews, trading his usual jeans and flannel shirt for a telegenic pinstriped suit and answering scores of questions about his involuntary reassignment.

"I'll be glad when it's over, to tell you the truth," said Edwards, 56. "It's too much going on — too much, and I'm still doing a radio program."

Today he said he'll take "part of a minute" to thank people, then he'll launch into his final interview as "Morning Edition" host, with Charles Osgood.

"My morning competitor," Edwards said of the CBS radio and television host, who was his first "Morning Edition" interview when the show debuted in 1979. Heard locally from 2 to 9 a.m. on KPCC-FM (89.3) and 3 to 9 a.m. on KCRW-FM (89.9), the show has a weekly national audience of 13 million, second only to Rush Limbaugh in all of radio.

Edwards was supposed to last only a month as host. The morning show was foundering even before its Nov. 5, 1979, premiere, and NPR executives asked him to take a leave from co-hosting (with Susan Stamberg) NPR's afternoon newsmagazine, "All Things Considered," to help launch "Morning Edition." That leave turned into nearly 25 years.

On Monday he's being replaced by a pair of colleagues in what one network executive called the relaunching of "Morning Edition" — a change Edwards didn't seek and NPR listeners didn't welcome. More than 36,000 e-mails poured in protesting the move — an unprecedented response.

"It's been very heartwarming. Even though people are feeling negative, it's positive as far as I'm concerned," said Edwards, who has been at NPR since 1974. "You do something for 30 years with the same audience, you build up a rapport there."

But listeners won't be without Edwards' smoky baritone for long. Monday he airs his first story from his new job as a senior correspondent: a preview of the World War II memorial on the National Mall.

Then he embarks on a tour to promote his new book, "Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism," with Southland stops that include a reading at Dutton's Brentwood Bookstore on May 15, sponsored by KCRW.

Details are being worked out on how "Morning Edition" will change in the post-Edwards era. The show will have two hosts, with one of them based at NPR West in Culver City. For now that will be Renee Montagne, with Steve Inskeep, currently host of "Weekend All Things Considered," in Washington, D.C., said Bruce Drake, NPR's vice president for news and information.

He said the pair will be in the running for the permanent jobs, if they desire, adding that the network wants hosts who can also report from the field, handling investigations and breaking news alike.

"It's not a question of deficiencies with Bob. It was an opportunity to see what value you could add to the show by bringing in people with field experience," Drake said.

He said NPR will look both inside and outside the network for new hosts, though he said few outside the building have the skills or experience needed to helm such a show.

The demands of covering news events — from the 2000 election to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq — and the legion of new listeners that coverage drew to NPR compelled the network to beef up its news operation.

The March 23 announcement that Edwards was being replaced struck some listeners as uncharacteristically cold and corporate — especially for a network so clubby with its audience that a 32-year Thanksgiving tradition has Stamberg sharing her mother-in-law's cranberry relish recipe with listeners.

Even people who agree that a change could be good criticized the way NPR handled the announcement, and network executives, singed by the fury of Edwards' fans, admitted it could have been handled better.

"It seems like they were not being very smart about it," said Frank Lanzone, general manager of KCBX-FM in San Luis Obispo and KSBX-FM in Santa Barbara, and president of California Public Radio, a consortium of 20 stations from Chico to San Diego. "They should be taking care of Bob. He's a national treasure, for crying out loud."

Drake said he "read people opining that this was a sign NPR was going to dumb down, or cater to a younger audience. I think the show will be daily evidence that that's not true."

"There is never a good time to announce something like this, when you've had somebody who's as visible for a long time as Bob is," he said. "I'm not sure there would have been a silver-bullet way to handle this so there would have been no outcry. We said this show is good and strong, and there are ways to make it stronger."

Stamberg and others at NPR said the flap over Edwards' reassignment rankled not only listeners but also people within the network. But they predicted his new assignment will ultimately benefit him, NPR and listeners.

"Sure, there are bruises and sadness and some anger too, which I imagine is much the same as many of the listeners are feeling," Stamberg said. "I also think that change is just fine, and it will be weathered."

But, she added, "I sure will miss that voice waking me up in the morning."


#7 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:18 PM

Help me out here, in what medium is "senior correspondent" NOT a demotion from "host" or "anchor"? Inskeep and Montagne are fine, but this does not add up. Leave aside the "horrible way it was handled". The Red Barber interviews alone should allow him to define his future and announce same.

Second only to Rush? Never knew that. And FM too. All the migration in radio has been back to AM since the early '90's. I wonder if this will make a difference.

#8 BethR

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:48 PM

QUOTE (Darrel Manson @ May 3 2004, 05:31 PM)
NPRs page honoring Edwards.

Thanks for this. I remember a lot of these--most recently the Sept. 11 stories. I remember being so grateful for the way Edwards' (& the NPR presentation generally) approach was meditative, allowed some time to absorb the stunning awfulness of it all...some time to pray (though perhaps that wasn't explicitly intended)

Thanks for the Times story, too. Susan Stamberg has been sharing her mother's Thanksgiving cranberry relish for 32 years?!? eek.gif

#9 Darrel Manson

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:52 PM

QUOTE (BethR @ May 3 2004, 03:47 PM)
Thanks for the Times story, too. Susan Stamberg has been sharing her mother's Thanksgiving cranberry relish for 32 years?!? eek.gif

And it's pretty good, too.

#10 mrmando

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 07:57 PM

QUOTE (Alan @ May 3 2004, 08:34 PM)
What is weird to me is that Philadelphia, home of one of the world's great orchesteras, and of the the country's great music schools (The Curtis Institute), and many other fine arts companies, does have a full-time classical-music station. Scandalous.

Well, Alan, while you're in Seattle, try Classic KING 95.

KUOW 94.9 is the all-talk NPR station (with some music on weekends); KPLU 88.5 is the NPR jazz station.

#11 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 03:30 PM

QUOTE (Alan @ May 3 2004, 08:34 PM)
What is weird to me is that Philadelphia, home of one of the world's great orchesteras, and of the the country's great music schools (The Curtis Institute), and many other fine arts companies, does have a full-time classical-music station. Scandalous.

There's no revenue to the format and investors have the right to demand better return if they so choose. Classical has two drawbacks: Few appreciate the music on its own and are anything like knowledgeable, and serious fans (like me) resent the chopping up of long pieces (only one movement of a symphony or sonata for example) to make the programming work.

Even with chopping, it is hard to stick a commercial in every ten minutes or so. If you deconstruct broadcasting a little, you have to grant that programming is there so that folks will hear the ads. Therefore there is no money in it. Nobody listening and no place for ads that are cheap because of the previous reason. Listener support is the only way for that format to work at all. Oh, there's also XM and Cirrius. They have multiple classic formats.

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 05 May 2004 - 03:32 PM.


#12 kebbie

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 02:34 PM

serves NPR right. i'm STILL pissed about this.

thanks for the update, alan.

#13 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 10:50 PM

It was only a matter of time, yeah I'm a cynic. Every day on the way in to work I hear the "New guy's" chalky voice and I wonder why I have to. Soon I will take the plunge into satellite radio. I'm trying to put it off, but I'm a media slappy. Maybe I will use the excuse of waiting for Edwards.