Morning minus Bob:
What NPR heard back
What about Bob?
For many of us, mornings in America will not be the same without
the voice of Bob Edwards to greet us. I have never met him, but I really consider
him a friend. He is a reliable source of information, has a voice that calms
me when terrible things are happening around the world. He is an American
—Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
firing of the mellifluous Edwards, my morning companion through all these
years, portends bad things. The telling sign was not just that he was axed
as the program’s host but that no one can tell you why. At NPR, clearly
the most erudite of the networks, various officials descended into the juvenile
babble of TV executives, empty words spilling out of their mouths, as if they
were determined to fill airtime yet say nothing.
—Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist
NPR executives seem to have forgotten about the public part of their title.
In commercial broadcasting, a beloved host who had presided over huge ratings
gains would almost never be nudged aside. Public broadcasting is valuable
precisely because it is relatively free from such worldly concerns. But it
is also, effectively, a public trust, and for the public to continue to trust
it, the institution needs to do a better job explaining its momentous decisions.
—unsigned editorial in the Chicago Tribune
Now, NPR is acting like any other big, powerful, dumb, clumsy, unfeeling, implacable, stonewalling, soulless bureaucracy that doesn’t know or care what its constituents need or want.
Oh, NPR will still be the best place for a smart grown-up to hear the news on the radio. Morning Edition will still be immeasurably more rewarding than the drivel of morning TV. There’s no doubt about that, even with Bob Edwards no longer at the anchor desk.
But it won’t be the same NPR, not in the hearts and minds of its listeners
—Robert P. Laurence, San Diego Union-Tribune
I do not understand the reasoning for this termination. Bob is the perfect
host — excellent reporting, a rare curiosity and skill for interviewing
in which he actually listens to what the interviewee says and follows up with
intelligent, thoughtful and respectful questions and genuine concern for the
listeners. His integrity shows through with every word.
—Christine Mullins, listener, Washington, D.C., in a letter to Current
NPR's programs earn audience loyalty, because they provide news and entertainment
that respect the intelligence of its listeners. However, such respect was
singularly missing from NPR's abrupt dismissal of Morning Edition host
Bob Edwards. The issue is not whether a change in programming is needed or
warranted. The issue is the arrogance NPR demonstrated in how it handled a
professional with whom many of its viewers have developed a personal listening
relationship over many years and even decades.
—Peters D. Willson, listener, Bethesda, Md., in a letter to Current
In listening to the interview, I was struck by Bob Edwards' more outgoing
and assertive personality versus what one normally hears in the morning. …
I wonder if Bob were just a little more like he was on your interview, whether
he would be leaving.
—Heidi J. Levin, listener, Chicago, in a letter to On the Media
I don’t know why this move was made by the network. It’s baffling.
If some stations were consulted in advance of this decision, WVXU was not
among them, nor were scores of other station managers I know around the country.
NPR’s “handling” of the public outcry has been deplorable.
It seems as though the storyline is changing and evolving with every passing
day. The network is now pointing the finger of blame at member stations that
supposedly “pushed” for the change. I don’t like any of
this and I don’t like the fact that we, as paying affiliate stations
and our members, have been treated so cavalierly.
—Jim King, director of radio, X-Star Radio Network, Cincinnati
My first reaction upon reading of Edwards’ replacement on the Web is
that I must have accidentally clicked on the satirical newspaper The Onion.
Come on, NPR, you can’t be serious. Edwards IS Morning Edition.
When he’s on vacation, we count the days until his return. Why mess
with success? What exactly is the point of this unnecessary change? Change
for change’s sake? Ridiculous!
—listener Dennis Higgins in a letter to the Seattle Times
Mine may be a minority opinion, but I for one will not miss Bob’s muddy
baritone and perfunctory, lazy delivery. As he reads scripted questions to
guests, I often hear boredom in his voice.
—listener Jim O’Grady, in a letter to Salon.com
The idea that NPR, of all places, was going to replace Edwards, of all people, with a younger anchor — a trophy anchor? — sent a chill of vulnerability down the spine of his baby boomer peers.
. . . Both the heave-ho and the reaction are an indication of the trouble Americans have coming to grips with the realities of the stretched life cycle. . . .
The room at the top has always been as narrow as the tip of a pyramid. For
some, the specter of a generation being pushed aside is as foreboding as the
ghost of Christmas future. For others, there is a fear that the older generation
will never step aside.
—Ellen Goodman, syndicated columnist
Web page posted April 12, 2004
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