Saturday, May 01, 2004

A Commute Without Bob Edwards in the Car

I was a rather naïve college student.

At the time, I believed that the workers of the world wasted those minutes and hours spent commuting, gaining nothing and existing in a kind of seated limbo.

Then, as a .dot-com worker in 1999, I discovered NPR, the saving grace of my daily migrations. I had been wrong -- NPR (in my case, KQED) could turn a daily commute into a meditation, an opportunity to learn and grow.

I'm a donor/member of KQED, and I can see why people like Joan Kroc consider NPR in their wills -- with other talk radio dominated by Rush Limbaugh & his heirs, NPR is a bastion of thoughtfulness and tranquility. In the way it reports the news and considers the issues of the day, NPR just does the right thing.

Yet, NPR did the wrong thing in the way it treated Bob Edwards this last week. 6 months shy of his 25th on-air anniversary at Morning Edition, NPR unceremoniously demoted Edwards from host to senior correspondent. Listener backlash was met with doublespeak from the NPR brass, but with dignity from Bob Edwards, who accepted this "reassignment" with uncommon grace.

Bob's last show as Morning Edition host was Friday, and he gave a poignant interview to Scott Simon, host of Weekend Morning Edition, today.

I'm confident that NPR will put Morning Edition in the hands of a capable replacement, but I'm disturbed that their management would engage in this behavior only months after receiving the largest philantropic gift ever given to an American cultural institution. They should know better, and they should work harder to behave in a manner worthy of our respect and attention.

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