Selections from the newspaper about
public TV and radio in the United States

Morning minus Bob:
What NPR heard back
What about Bob?

For many of us, mornings in America will not be the same without the voice of Bob Edwards to greet us. I have never met him, but I really consider him a friend. He is a reliable source of information, has a voice that calms me when terrible things are happening around the world. He is an American institution.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

The firing of the mellifluous Edwards, my morning companion through all these years, portends bad things. The telling sign was not just that he was axed as the program’s host but that no one can tell you why. At NPR, clearly the most erudite of the networks, various officials descended into the juvenile babble of TV executives, empty words spilling out of their mouths, as if they were determined to fill airtime yet say nothing.
Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist

NPR executives seem to have forgotten about the public part of their title. In commercial broadcasting, a beloved host who had presided over huge ratings gains would almost never be nudged aside. Public broadcasting is valuable precisely because it is relatively free from such worldly concerns. But it is also, effectively, a public trust, and for the public to continue to trust it, the institution needs to do a better job explaining its momentous decisions.
unsigned editorial in the Chicago Tribune

Now, NPR is acting like any other big, powerful, dumb, clumsy, unfeeling, implacable, stonewalling, soulless bureaucracy that doesn’t know or care what its constituents need or want.

Oh, NPR will still be the best place for a smart grown-up to hear the news on the radio. Morning Edition will still be immeasurably more rewarding than the drivel of morning TV. There’s no doubt about that, even with Bob Edwards no longer at the anchor desk.

But it won’t be the same NPR, not in the hearts and minds of its listeners and contributors.
Robert P. Laurence, San Diego Union-Tribune

I do not understand the reasoning for this termination. Bob is the perfect host — excellent reporting, a rare curiosity and skill for interviewing in which he actually listens to what the interviewee says and follows up with intelligent, thoughtful and respectful questions and genuine concern for the listeners. His integrity shows through with every word.
Christine Mullins, listener, Washington, D.C., in a letter to Current

NPR's programs earn audience loyalty, because they provide news and entertainment that respect the intelligence of its listeners. However, such respect was singularly missing from NPR's abrupt dismissal of Morning Edition host Bob Edwards. The issue is not whether a change in programming is needed or warranted. The issue is the arrogance NPR demonstrated in how it handled a professional with whom many of its viewers have developed a personal listening relationship over many years and even decades.
Peters D. Willson, listener, Bethesda, Md., in a letter to Current

In listening to the interview, I was struck by Bob Edwards' more outgoing and assertive personality versus what one normally hears in the morning. … I wonder if Bob were just a little more like he was on your interview, whether he would be leaving.
Heidi J. Levin, listener, Chicago, in a letter to On the Media

I don’t know why this move was made by the network. It’s baffling. If some stations were consulted in advance of this decision, WVXU was not among them, nor were scores of other station managers I know around the country. NPR’s “handling” of the public outcry has been deplorable. It seems as though the storyline is changing and evolving with every passing day. The network is now pointing the finger of blame at member stations that supposedly “pushed” for the change. I don’t like any of this and I don’t like the fact that we, as paying affiliate stations and our members, have been treated so cavalierly.
Jim King, director of radio, X-Star Radio Network, Cincinnati

My first reaction upon reading of Edwards’ replacement on the Web is that I must have accidentally clicked on the satirical newspaper The Onion. Come on, NPR, you can’t be serious. Edwards IS Morning Edition. When he’s on vacation, we count the days until his return. Why mess with success? What exactly is the point of this unnecessary change? Change for change’s sake? Ridiculous!
listener Dennis Higgins in a letter to the Seattle Times

Mine may be a minority opinion, but I for one will not miss Bob’s muddy baritone and perfunctory, lazy delivery. As he reads scripted questions to guests, I often hear boredom in his voice.
listener Jim O’Grady, in a letter to Salon.com

The idea that NPR, of all places, was going to replace Edwards, of all people, with a younger anchor — a trophy anchor? — sent a chill of vulnerability down the spine of his baby boomer peers.

. . . Both the heave-ho and the reaction are an indication of the trouble Americans have coming to grips with the realities of the stretched life cycle. . . .

The room at the top has always been as narrow as the tip of a pyramid. For some, the specter of a generation being pushed aside is as foreboding as the ghost of Christmas future. For others, there is a fear that the older generation will never step aside.
Ellen Goodman, syndicated columnist

Web page posted April 12, 2004
Current
The newspaper about public TV and radio
in the United States
Current Publishing Committee, Takoma Park, Md.
Copyright 2004

How NPR made the move

Why NPR reassigned Edwards

What NPR heard back

What the program needs

OUTSIDE LINKS

Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman calls the NPR move "a wake up call" for aging boomers.

In a syndicated commentary, TV journalist Linda Ellerbee (age 59) contends that Bob Edwards was "put out to pasture" because of his age (56).

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is most worried about NPR's announcement because nobody at the network will tell why Edwards was reassigned.

NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin writes "An Open Letter to Bob Edwards" March 31 and comments further April 6, by which time he had received 8,000 e-mails on the topic.

Media-industry blog reports April 1 that Edwards will deliver the voice of NPR's telephone system after leaving Morning Edition.

 

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