SiriusXM cancels Bob Edwards Show, but weekly public radio show will continue

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After nearly 10 years on satellite radio, The Bob Edwards Show will cease production after Sept. 26, when the last of the original shows airs.

SiriusXM plans to continue feeding rebroadcasts of the program to its subscribers. Bob Edwards Weekend, the Public Radio International series produced from a selection of SiriusXM interviews, will continue to run in repeats, according to the distributor.

“The program will continue to be a compilation of interviews that Bob has conducted in the past,” said Julia Yager, PRI senior v.p. marketing, sales and distribution. “We have communicated [that SiriusXM is halting production of new episodes] to stations, and talked about it at the [PRPD] conference last week, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.” The weekly program airs on 153 stations.

Edwards ends his decade-long satellite radio run reluctantly. “It certainly wasn’t my choice,” he told Current. “They think it’s a very expensive show. We have a staff of nine people in addition to me. They say that’s enormous. They have entire channels programmed by one guy. We’re doing entirely different things, but that doesn’t register with them. They just look at the costs.”

Charlie Summers, a fan of Edwards who began subscribing to XM Satellite Radio in 2004 when the former NPR host joined its lineup, is angry about the cancellation.

“I have listened to it every weekday short of being desperately ill or in the middle of the ocean,” said the systems analyst from York, Pa. He criticized SiriusXM for embracing shock jocks such as Howard Stern and Opie & Anthony. “I think the guys up at SiriusXM are more interested in midget tossing,” he said.

SiriusXM did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment on the show’s cancellation.

Edwards began producing the weekdaily Bob Edwards Show on a year-to-year contract in October 2004. Satellite radio was a new business then, and he signed on with XM, which offered him a new home after his ouster as host of NPR Morning Edition sparked an outcry from public radio listeners. He later paired with PRI to offer Bob Edwards Weekend for local public radio broadcasts.

But satellite radio couldn’t sustain two competing companies, and Sirius Satellite Radio acquired XM in 2008.

Over the years, many NPR alumnae joined Edwards on the production. His current staff of nine producers includes Chad Campbell, who worked on Talk of the Nation, and Ed McNulty, who was part of the Weekend Edition Saturday production team.

A native of Kentucky, Edwards spent 30 years at NPR, where he co-hosted All Things Considered before being tapped to serve as sole anchor for Morning Edition at its 1979 debut. Edwards was replaced by co-anchors Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne in 2004, and offered special correspondent status at NPR. In an acrimonious split, he left the network to launch a new show with XM.

Edwards insists there is no bad blood between him and NPR, which he says he listens to regularly. “I’ve been over there a bunch of times, and I have a lot of friends over there. I still think of them as the New York Times of broadcasting. I’m a little biased. My wife works there as a news anchor.” Edwards is married to NPR newscaster Windsor Johnston.

Though the audience for Edwards’ XM effort was a fraction of the size of Morning Edition’s, to his surprise the quality of guests willing to appear on The Bob Edwards Show did not fall off.

“They remembered me and they asked for me, frankly,” Edwards told Current.

And he found doing the long-form interview show was much easier than anchoring a daily two-hour newsmagazine.

“It was an absolute joy,” said Edwards. “We did what we wanted to do. We had no orders from management. It was complete freedom, and I’m very grateful to have had 10 years of that.”

Edwards estimates that he conducted some 5,000 interviews for his SiriusXM show and believes they comprise a valuable historical and cultural record. He has donated the archive to the Library of Congress. Among important Americans interviewed by Edwards but no longer alive are activist Father Robert Drinan, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and playwright Wendy Wasserstein.

“If you want long-form interviews with those people late in their career, there they are,” said Edwards.

SiriusXM plans to retain one of Edwards’ producers to stay on and assemble shows from the archive.

The Bob Edwards Show provides 10 hours of programming in each weekday feed of SiriusXM’s XMPR channel. When it goes into repeats, it joins another archive-derived program, Car Talk, which airs six hours a day on the same channel. If Sirius XM maintains that schedule, two-thirds of the channel’s programming each day will be devoted to defunct pubradio programs.

For his final show, Edwards plans appearances by NPR’s Susan Stamberg, the Kitchen Sisters and Tavis Smiley.

“I just thought that for the last show it would be appropriate to have some public radio people on,” he said.

Edwards, who is 67, definitely wants to keep working. Would he like to return to public radio?

“If someone wants me, that would be wonderful. I’ve got a lot left,” said Edwards.

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  • kim nesvig

    I’m sorry to learn that Siruius has opted to cease production of the Bob Edwards Show. I’m sure ther are many thousands of interesting conversations in the archive, I will miss the fresh and timely content. Bobs show was one of the major reasons I subscribed to satellite radio.

  • berky2010

    I wish Bob all the best in his future endeavors. I’ve been listening to him at least since Morning Edition. I just love his voice and his interviewing style. Hope he turns up somewhere else!

  • Alfonso

    When I 1st joined XM, they had shows “Harlem” “Sunset Strip”, “Marty Stuart” “Bob Edwards” “Theme Tyme Radio” etc…! XM has become just music, I can stream these freely on the internet now So why am I paying a monthly bill? Good Luck Bob I’ll be looking for you on free radio

  • Lee

    My public radio station just started carrying one hour of Bob Edwards weekend recently. It plays on Sunday evenings and makes me feel very calm and restful, as we are getting ready to start a new week. Good Luck, Bob.

  • Barry Robert Benton

    Bob Edwards interviews are flawless, reflecting strong preparation and his intelligence. I love Bill Maher, but if you want an ugly contrast, watch or listen to Bill interview guests.

  • A Reader

    HIs interviews were always on point and concise. He is the best.

  • Carla

    Deeply saddened. Bob Edwards is one of a kind.

  • cranklet

    Without Bob Edwards, there’s little reason to keep my subscription to XM radio.

  • lilgrundoon

    We’re deeply saddened. My wife and I each have XM in our vehicles and we miss Bob terribly. He was our favorite interviewer. We’re trying to decide whether or not to continue our subscriptions.

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  • Linda J B

    I am very saddened about the cancellation of The Bob Edwards Show. His show ,with in depth discussions and information, has enriched my life and those of others. I can’t tell you how many of his broadcasts that I have recommended to family and friends. The new programming replacing the show doesn’t hold a candle to the quality of The Bob Edwards Show. More and more I am listening less and less to the Sirius XM station that used to broadcast him. As my auto insurance agent once said to me when selecting an auto body shop for accident repair, “Cheaper isn’t necessarily better.” And in this case, that statement rings so clear. You certainly can’t put a price on The Bob Edwards Show. It’s worth too much.

  • Ellen

    BIG, BIG mistake to stop Bob Edwards. Insight is a lousy substitute!!! XM is dumbing down it’s programming significantly. No value any longer

  • ELAINE WILLIAMS

    What! Are you kidding me! Bob Edwards BY FAR does the best interviews on talk/news radio. Bob Edwards BY FAR has the most entertaining, enlightened and interesting guests. WTF! I just found him and now I’ve lost him. Will there by archives? The interview with Paul Ruddnick yesterday morning (9/14/15) left me happy and laughing. I sat in my car at work not wanting to leave it. Way to go Siruius! We all want more trash talk shows by people like Jenny McCarthy and Lance Bass. Who’s going to get their next talk show with you – Courtney Love?

    • Unfortunately it looks like their website doesn’t have audio of any archived shows.

      • Free audio is available of some of the “special” episodes here: http://www.bobedwardsradio.com/special-shows/ . Audible.com sells all past episodes as well. The Bob Edwards Weekend podcast was discontinued. I hope he will do a new show with PRX, APM, or some other non NPR network.

  • Claudia Lange

    Very short sighted decision on the part of XM radio. In depth content is so rare and satisfying, unlike the superficial, dismissive 140 character world we live in today. That mindset is not sustainable for the long term.

  • Heartbroken

    This is such a sad day. I feel physically ill because of this. How could you?

  • Ben

    XM is increasing cost and, with Bob’s departure, reducing quality. Not a formula for me to renew my subscription. I’m out.

  • Susan

    I signed up for XM radio because of Bob Edwards and his thoughtful interviews. Insights should instead be called “programs for dummies.”

  • megrittgers

    I just realized that Bob Edwards is not on a “break, but no longer on Insight – the only reason I listened to their programming. I have switched to spending my morning drive with Terry Gross on NPR.
    Insight has terrible, awful sounding programs. I am considering ending my sirius subscription to stream Bob Edward’s podcast. Terrible decision!