News Column

NPR's 'Talk of the Nation' to Be Replaced

March 30, 2013

Tim Clodfelter

"Talk of the Nation" is about to go silent.

NPR announced on Friday that it would no longer produce the call-in show, which airs Monday through Thursday on WFDD 88.5-FM and more than 400 other public radio stations around the country. It will end its run in July.

In its place, NPR will carry an expanded version of "Here and Now," a newsmagazine show produced in partnership with member station WBUR from Boston.

"I remain profoundly grateful for all the opportunities provided at NPR over the past 35 years," Neal Conan, the host of the series, said in a statement sent to the NPR staff. "I especially treasure the time here at 'Talk of the Nation' these past 11 years and more. I'm proud that we go out on top, with record station carriage and the largest audience in the program's history."

According to a posting on NPR's blog, the move was not budget-related, and NPR executives said that they intended to offer jobs to every staff member working for "Talk of the Nation."

Kinsey Wilson, NPR's executive vice president and chief content officer, said in a statement that the decision was based on the fact that "there's been a proliferation of other call-in talk shows. ... This is really an opportunity for NPR to pivot a bit and to make sure we're investing in the things that are not as commonly done across the system -- and that is providing solid news coverage and strong storytelling across all day parts."

Tom Dollenmayer, the general manager of WFDD, which broadcasts from Wake Forest University, said that the news came as a surprise to stations in an email on Thursday.

"We are looking at our options and how we will move daytime programs to accommodate the change," he said by email. "Public radio has needed a midday news magazine-style program for a long time, so the expansion of 'Here and Now' will be a welcome addition to our programming. I plan on carrying both hours of the new show.

"We will provide a new programming schedule as soon as those decisions are finalized."

Bethany Chafin, who is now a producer at WFDD, was an intern at "Talk of the Nation" in the fall of 2008.

"It was a memorable election season," she said. "I had a really incredible experience. I have a lot of respect for the individuals I worked with there. ... This team really adopted me and treated me as one of their own."

She said that she was "very sad" about the decision to end the show, adding that "My work there inspired me to pursue a career in public radio."

"Here and Now" is currently carried on 182 stations. "Science Friday," the weekly science talk show that airs on Fridays in the "Talk of the Nation" timeslot, will continue.

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