Celeste Headlee, former co-host of The Takeaway, is launching Middle Ground, a pubradio show concentrating on the vast swath of the country not fronting an ocean.
“We’re going to be covering all of the states east of California and west of the Eastern Seaboard,” Headlee said. “It’s going to be a standard, one-hour news show that ignores both coasts, basically.”
Middle Ground will debut at the end of September, tying in with a Kickstarter campaign soliciting funds for the first six months of operating costs.
Since leaving The Takeaway last year, Headlee has guest-hosted NPR shows including Tell Me More and Weekend All Things Considered. Prior to 2009, when she signed on with The Takeaway, Headlee covered the Midwest for NPR’s since-canceled Day to Day. She worked in the newsroom at WDET in Detroit from 2001–06.
After years of pitching shows from the middle of America, she said, she knew there were plenty of great stories that don’t get enough coverage.
“This is a real labor of love,” she said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for at least a decade. I think a lot of people out there feel the same way I do. Every time I bring the idea up, people say they can’t believe no one has done it yet.”
Joining Headlee is veteran reporter Jacob Conrad, who worked with her on Day to Day, and Sue Goodwin, former executive producer of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, which went off the air in June.
Headlee intends to distribute her new show independently, aiming to raise enough money on Kickstarter to give Middle Ground running room to gain traction.
“I’m realistic about news shows,” Headlee said. “They have a worse track record than American marriages. But I think there is a real hunger for shows focusing on Middle America. After years of hearing about every new martini bar in New York, there are people who want to hear stories about the rest of the country.”