‘The Thistle & Shamrock’ will end Sept. 30 after 40-plus years

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Fiona Ritchie’s weekly NPR show The Thistle & Shamrock will end Sept. 30 after more than 40 years. 

Ritchie (Photo: Profdrew101, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ritchie revealed the show’s end in a note to listeners on NPR’s website Friday.

The Thistle & Shamrock airs on 237 member stations, delving into new and traditional Celtic music through interviews with singers, songwriters and music experts, a news release said. 

The program debuted on American Public Radio in 1983 before changing to NPR in 1990, according to the release. In 2003, the show offered NPR’s first free MP3 download. 

“Gathering together through music, in person and on the radio, offers a space for empathy and understanding, a bridge across the barriers of language, custom, and even time,” Ritchie said in her note. “Radio is magical in that way.”

“When I’m asked what I like least about my work, there’s only ever been one answer: the relentless weekly deadlines!” she added. “Now I want to continue to develop my other interests, including perhaps creating radio moments with more breathing space in between.”

In the news release, Ritchie estimated that she has shared 30,000 music tracks while having 400 guests and 200 live performances on the program. 

Ritchie is a Folk Radio Hall of Fame inductee and a Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame inductee. She has six World Medals from the New York Festivals’ International Competition for Radio Programming along with a Flora Macdonald award from St. Andrews University, the release said.

“The history of NPR is defined by shows like The Thistle & Shamrock,” said Keith Jenkins, NPR’s VP of Visuals and Strategy, in the release. “The sense of wonder, joy and discovery that Fiona’s show brought to listeners for over 40 years is irreplaceable but we are eternally grateful we’ve all been able to take this musical journey with her.”

2 thoughts on “‘The Thistle & Shamrock’ will end Sept. 30 after 40-plus years

  1. Congratulations on four decades of magic, and a well-earned retirement. While it’s hard to imagine an NPR without the Thistle & Shamrock, it’s as hard to think it’s been going on for that long, even though I’ve been aware of much of it. Thanks for every second, it’s been amazing, and the world is definitely a better place because of your efforts.

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