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Remembering NPR host Bob Edwards

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BOB EDWARDS: Good evening. This is Bob Edwards. Tonight, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

That's the top of a very early edition of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, back when it was hosted by Bob Edwards. Edwards, of course, didn't last too long on this show.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

EDWARDS: This is Bob Edwards. I'll be away from ALL THINGS CONSIDERED for a while. Instead, I'll be with you each morning for National Public Radio's new Morning Edition.

DETROW: A while became a quarter century. Edwards built up Morning Edition, and helming it in the pre-dawn hours, he became one of the most established and trusted broadcasters in the country. He died last month at age 76. And earlier today, his friends and colleagues gathered inside NPR's Studio One to remember him. Special correspondent Susan Stamberg talked about what he was like in the newsroom.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: I remember your father would go around at a certain time of year and force us to buy Girl Scout cookies. It never ended.

DETROW: Stamberg was Edwards' co-host. When ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Ari Shapiro worked with Edwards, he was just starting out as an overnight editorial assistant on Morning Edition.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Bob taught me economy of language. I, to this day, sitting in the studio, will look at an introduction to a piece and think, does that sentence actually add anything to our understanding?

DETROW: Shapiro said he learned from Edwards that the best questions are often the shortest - oh, how so? Go on. There were larger lessons, too, like on 9/11, when Edwards emerged from the studio after hours of live broadcasting and did something out of character - deliver an inspirational speech to the Morning Edition staff. Shapiro said Edwards told them...

SHAPIRO: In moments like this, when the whole world is focused on this incomprehensible event, wondering what they should be doing, what role they should be playing, we are so fortunate that, as journalists, we know what our role is. We know what our function is. We tell the story. We share what we know. And that is a vital service that we provide. And we're going to come back and do it again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.

DETROW: National political correspondent Don Gonyea said those short questions, the oh's and the how-so's, they sometimes hit a bit differently for the reporters on the other end. Gonyea recalled a live hit from Buckingham Palace when President Bush was meeting Queen Elizabeth. The scripted and outlined part of the chat ended early. Gonyea figured the hit would just end early, too. It didn't.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: I finished my last answer, and Bob says, the queen.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: That's all he said. That's all he said. So I said, the queen.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: And Bob says, nice hat.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: And I said, periwinkle.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: And Bob said, thanks, Don.

DETROW: Speaker after speaker talked about the special bond Edwards built with listeners. It was an intimate relationship in an era of alarm clock radios, when he would be the first voice many listeners heard every morning for years and years. Here's Weekend Edition host Scott Simon.

SCOTT SIMON, BYLINE: We're trying to have a relationship with people. We come to them through the air, under the door, in ways we can't see. And we take up a position somewhere in their heart and mind. Never tell yourselves what we do disappears into thin air.

DETROW: There were mint juleps afterward to celebrate the native Kentuckian. And at Edwards' request, just about everyone at the memorial wore his signature work outfit - flannel shirts and jeans. That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED for this Saturday. Actually, let's forget about all those years at Morning Edition for the moment and let Bob, the ATC host, have the last word.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

EDWARDS: And I'm Bob Edwards. Good evening for ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.