Tuesday, March 23, 2004

On Losing an Old Friend

There's a voice that I listen to very early each weekday morning - a voice that helps me decipher the crazy world around us. I have the pleasure of spending and hour or so (depending on traffic conditions and radio reception in my office) listening to stories develop in depth, delivered in a soothing baritone, rather than the story-a-second staccato of the local news radio station. My world would be so much smaller without that voice. I'd know little to nothing of remote places like Nambia, might not have been turned onto incredible musicians like Wynton Marsalis, wouldn't be able to distinguish Desmond Tutu from my daughter's dance tutu, and would surely have a poorer view of the body politic.

Bob Edwards, NPR's long time host of "Morning Edition", has been shown the gilded edge of the program director's axe. His last day behind the microphone at NPR will be on April 30th. After that, he's relegated to the radioland Siberia of "NPR senior editor".

When you've been listening to a morning guy like Edwards as long as I have, he becomes more than just a part of your daily routine. He's the person you're sitting with at the kitchen table as you woof down the first cup of coffee. If the lead story above the fold in the paper doesn't make sense, he'll explain it to you. Don't want heavy news? There's always the good human interest piece he's relating, or spelling bee champ from Uzbekistan that he's interviewing. And what is unique about Edwards is that (neocon protestations to the contrary) he very much tries to examine issues from both sides. Maybe that's what really pisses off the brownshirts.

Here's a little tidbit I didn't know until I read the CNN story of Edward's departure. "Morning Edition" is second only to Rush Limbaugh's syndicated program as the most-listened to national radio show.

Bob, you'll be missed during drivetime, old friend. I can only hope that the successor NPR chooses to fill your shoes is worthy to carry your journalistic jockstrap.