Jim Lesher, NPR’s associate editor for news operations, died Wednesday morning of stomach cancer, according to the network. He was 46.
Lesher worked for over 20 years at NPR, where he was second-in-command of the operations and program support team. The team’s engineers manage studio booking and bring audio from stations and reporters into NPR headquarters.
“He had a gift for knowing what someone needed before they knew, and quietly resolved potential obstacles before they even could be recognized as such,” the network said in a press release. “No matter the situation, Lesher could and did handle it, and his expansive contributions are irreplaceable for the organization.”
“His official title was associate editor,” said Audie Cornish, co-host of All Things Considered, during a tribute on the show. “It should have been ‘problem-solver.’”
Colleagues called him the “Radar O’Reilly character from MASH, only real,” ATC host Melissa Block said during the tribute.
“Jim’s value to this newsroom was so apparent that I once joked with him that I was going to make up a wanted poster with his photo: ‘Jim Lesher: Most Wanted Man at NPR’,” said Chuck Holmes, NPR’s deputy managing editor, in a press release.
Current and former colleagues of Lesher took to Twitter to describe their behind-the-scenes co-worker as “kind,” “loyal” and integral to NPR’s productions.
Impossible to sum up all that a man named Jim Lesher did for NPR behind the scenes. Incredibly loyal colleague. Losing him is devastating.
— Arnie Seipel, NPR (@NPRnie) June 3, 2015
Every day a river of audio flows into NPR,my late colleague Jim Lesher’s made sure it got where we needed it. He is missed. #nprlife
— Sonari R Glinton (@Sonari) June 4, 2015
Very sad to hear this news about Jim. He was one of the first people I worked with at NPR and a key person there. http://t.co/rrNax2Dbrh
— Melody Joy Kramer (@mkramer) June 3, 2015
— Rich Preston (@RichPreston) June 3, 2015
— BrakktonBookerNPR (@brakktonbooker) June 3, 2015
2. NPR listeners won’t know Jim Lesher’s name. But he was instrumental in the operational details of the newsroom.
— Russell Lewis (@NPRrussell) June 3, 2015
In tears mourning @nprnews colleague Jim Lesher – the most loyal, dedicated and kindest person. He worked every day to make us all better.
— Carrie Johnson (@johnson_carrie) June 3, 2015
RIP Jim Lesher — dedicated, geeky, hardworking, unintentionally hilarious, one of my favorite people. This hurts
— Lavis Tarchuk (@larchuk) June 3, 2015
Lesher is survived by his mother Anne Lesher, his father James Lesher Sr., his sister Katherine Nash (née Lesher) and two nephews, Christopher and Sean.