Longtime public radio reporter Melody Walker died of cancer Friday. She was 62.
From 1981 to 1987 she was based in Paris and covered everything from terrorist bombings to the Cannes Film Festival and French politics. She reported primarily for NPR but also regularly appeared on Deutsche Welle and Radio France.
A Barnard College graduate, Melody was fluent in French and used that ability to paint a deep, cultural sense of France for listeners.
“Melody was a gifted journalist with great storytelling skills and a sense of humor that brought a twinkle to the eyes and ears of everyone who enjoyed her reporting,” recalled Marketplace founding EP Jim Russell.
Melody came from generations of pioneering reporters and publishers in the Midwest. She started reporting for her father’s cattle journal at the age of 10 and began radio reporting in Kansas City, Mo., at 16.
Melody produced the Leonard Lopate Show at WNYC in New York City and produced jazz and classical music broadcasts for a French distributor. She eventually became the New York City and then Chicago bureau chief for Marketplace, all the while raising two children. She worked in university communications after settling in St. Louis and last worked as the business and economics reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Melody loved good writing, public radio, clever turns of phrase and excellent champagne. She was a fearless reporter and was never intimidated by money, class or power. Melody is survived by her longtime partner John Barth, formerly of PRX, and her two children, Kyle Walker O’Brien of Paris and Blair Walker O’Brien, who resides in Manhattan. A celebration of life will be held in June.