Petra Mayer, an editor of NPR’s books coverage and self-described “professional nerd,” died Saturday, the network reported. She was 46.
Mayer died suddenly of what is thought to be pulmonary embolism, NPR reported.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for all of us at NPR, our Member Stations, and the millions of listeners in the public radio family,” the network said in a statement. “Petra’s passion for her work, her love for her colleagues, and her joy sharing books with public radio listeners have made a lasting impact. We extend our deepest sympathy to her family & friends.”
“I loved having Petra on Pop Culture Happy Hour because she was a person whose enthusiasms were in all caps, all the time,” Linda Holmes, a host of PCHH, said Sunday on Weekend All Things Considered. “She just loved the things she loved and she loved talking to people about things that she loved. All she wanted was to find something that she loved that you would also love. That was kind of her passion in life, I think.”
“Her passion and enthusiasm was indelible, and she was generous about sharing both with you,” said ATC Associate Producer Mallory Yu on Twitter.
“She was ferociously intelligent, sardonically funny and made your day better by merely existing,” Glen Weldon, a PHCC host, said on Twitter. “She was a passionate voice for genre content that NPR will miss like an ache.”
Before joining the Books team, Mayer spent 10 years as a producer and live broadcast director for WATC. In addition to leading the program’s books coverage, “she was also the person to ask if you wanted to know how much snow falls outside NPR’s Washington headquarters on a Saturday, how to belly dance, or what pro wrestling looks like up close and personal,” according to her NPR bio.
Mayer got her start with NPR in 1994 as an engineering assistant while in college. After going on to receive a master’s degree from Columbia University and working at WBUR and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, she returned to NPR in 2000 as a production assistant on Weekend Edition Saturday and Morning Edition.
“Petra was NPR through and through,” SVP for News Nancy Barnes wrote in an email to staff. “To say that Petra will be missed simply seems inadequate.”