Shutdowns of a show and a reporting project at NPR have prompted the departure of “Political Junkie” Ken Rudin, who has worked at the network since 1991.
Rudin appears weekly on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, which is ending production this month. He also served recently as editorial coordinator for StateImpact, a collaborative reporting project with stations that NPR is exiting.
“With the combination of Talk of the Nation and StateImpact ending, there wasn’t really a place for me,” Rudin says. “It didn’t come as a surprise.” He will leave NPR at the end of September.
Rudin has appeared weekly on TOTN for his “Political Junkie” segment since 2006. Each week he devises questions about political trivia, discusses news events and interviews someone from the political world.
He also creates a weekly puzzle for the show and for NPR’s website. “ScuttleButton” draws from his collection of more than 70,000 campaign buttons — a horde Rudin has amassed “because I’m lonely,” he says.
Announcement of TOTN’s cancellation prompted “literally thousands” of listeners to send emails lamenting the end of his appearances, Rudin says. “I don’t want to lose that momentum.” So he’s planning to launch a weekly hourlong program for public radio stations.
“I deeply love politics, and I was always thankful that NPR gave me this outlet to be fun and silly and informative every week,” he says. “So I’m hoping that this new project will continue that.” Rudin is also considering connecting with a speakers’ bureau.
“It might be a new life,” he says of the change. “A rebirth.”
NPR will distribute Rudin’s podcast, It’s All Politics, through the end of July.
Rudin joined NPR as its first political editor, a position he left to work on StateImpact. Before starting at NPR, he worked as a reporter and deputy political director for ABC News. He took a break from NPR from 1995 to 1998 to work as managing editor of the Hotline, a daily political newsletter, and to write for The Hill in Washington, D.C.