NPR’s Neal Conan reflects on his 11 years as a host Talk about the Nation and thanks some of the show’s influential contributors along the way. After 36 years at NPR, Conan says goodbye.
NEAL CONAN, HOST:
And so it’s time to say goodbye. As you probably know, this, after 21 years, is the final broadcast of TALK OF THE NATION, and after 36 years, my last day on NPR.
Before I go, there are a few people to thank. First of all, my predecessors in this chair: John Hockenberry, Ray Suarez, Juan Williams and the numerous alternates who allowed us to rest.
There have been dozens of people on staff over the years, the people whose names you heard after the Tuesday letters, the people who made this program possible. I can’t begin to list them all, but I do need to thank the team that held the ring with me these last few difficult months. Tinbete Ermyas, Libby Franklin, Monica Bushman, Laura Lee, AD Quig, Jessica Reedy, Priska Neely, our editor Sarah Handel, director Gwen Outen, senior producer Scott Cameron, senior supervising producer Carline Watson. And we don’t get on or off the air without our technicians.
Again, we can’t begin to list them all, but on their behalf, our thanks to Technical Director Melissa Marquis. And of course I can’t skip politics addict Ken Rudin.
There have only been two executive producers in my time on the show. So let me thank Leith Bishop, wherever she is, and especially Sue Goodwin. On this and other shows, she and I have worked together for many, many years. She, more than anyone else, can take credit for our successes. I will miss her very much.
I must thank the bosses who decided to start this show and sustain it for more than two decades. I need to thank the member stations, and not just the 400+ that carried this show, but all of them, all of those stations that collectively support NPR and allow us to borrow their media to speak to people across the country.
And I need to thank you. We are told that more than 3.6 million of you listen every week. That puts TALK OF THE NATION in the top 10 of all talk shows in the country. The currency of transmission is that number, the amount of eyes and ears that can be given to soap and car manufacturers. To be honest, we do a little bit of that on public radio too.
But on TALK OF THE NATION in particular, the listeners also have a voice. This program works best when we find ways to engage their stories about their jobs and their children, their fears and their successes, about what happened in the drought, the hurricane, the fire, the hospital, work, and school. in Iraq or Vietnam.
Throughout my time at NPR, I worked as a reporter, editor, and producer. And as much as I loved all of those jobs, the last 11 and a half years, this job has been the best. It has been an honor talking to you every day.
I counted them: 600 weeks. Give away free time for vacations, add all the special coverage, let’s round up to 5,000 hours. There is still a lot to talk about, but that will have to be enough.
So, in a minute or so, I’ll be back to where I started in public radio. I will be one of you again, a listener. Yes, a listener-sponsor, but also a listener-critic. I will cry, laugh and scream at the radio. And listeners have a vital function. It’s our job to hold member stations and NPR accountable.
So right here, I form my own private pact with NPR and my member stations. I will listen and, yes, I will open my checkbook, but I need some services in return. Go and tell me the stories behind everything that happened in the world today. Explain why it happened and how it affects our lives. Do it every day. Tell me what’s important and don’t waste my time with stupid things.
Bye. Saying goodbye to TALK OF THE NATION and NPR News, this is Neal Conan, in Washington.
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