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NPR: A New Chapter

I have, today, been named Executive Producer of the Newscast division of National Public Radio. I start February 16th and will be moving back to my home town of Washington, D.C. while keeping one foot in New York which I have come to love.

I am so honored and delighted to be joining one of the premier news organizations in the world. NPR is a very special institution. With 19 domestic and 19 foreign bureaus, there is no match for its resources. With nearly 800 member stations, it is a force in American culture.

With commercial radio news departments virtually disappearing, NPR stations may be the last best hope for maintaining any delivery system of news on the radio to the residents of the nation’s cities, small towns, and rural communities. I hope to have a hand in building and strengthening these local news departments which are also hugely important contributors to the national network newscasts that I will be in charge of. Those newscasts, by the way, are the single most listened-to programming at NPR.

I love that NPR’s audience not only includes up-scale, well-educated Americans, but just about every cab driver in the country. How could it be that this one network touches such a broad swath of Americans? Because NPR is about substance. Americans are hungry for news about their country and their world. They don’t always want it in canned 30-second increments. They want length. They want detail. They want nuance. They want texture. NPR never talks down to its audience and never tries to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Folks who program the largest commercial radio stations in America understand what a force NPR is. Talk to commercial programmers in Boston, Washington, San Francisco, Austin and dozens of other cities, and they will tell you that though not ordinarily considered a part of the ratings landscape- NPR stations in those regions of the country are often #1 with the largest audiences and really long periods of time spent listening (TSL).

It is an amazing and humbling experience to have an opportunity to go work for a place where you feel you are on a mission. And when that mission is simply to do good journalism, make radio important in people’s lives, and give people the content and substance they crave- it is all the better.

Somebody pinch me, please, because at this moment, it is just possible I have died and gone to heaven.

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  1. Irma & Ned
    December 18, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Right on, Robert. We are proud of you & hope to help you get settled here again.

  2. Mike Cavender
    December 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Congrats, Robert. I’m so happy to hear the news. I love NPR and it’s great to know you’ll be behind some of the best journalism still on the air!


  3. Jim Howard
    December 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Congratulations and welcome. Here’s to a great 2010 in Newscast!

  4. Ann
    December 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Congratulations on your new position!! Glad that you will be back in the Nation’s Capital! Been enjoying your blog.

  5. Dar
    January 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    You deserve this Robert. And you are coming back to DC!

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