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Friday, March 29, 2013

'Here & Now' Teams Up With NPR, Will Expand To 2 Hours

(Story cross-posted from WBUR) — NPR is ending Talk of the Nation after 21 years on the air, and will seek to replace it in a new strategic partnership with WBUR’s Here & Now.

Talk of the Nation, broadcast by more than 400 stations nationwide, will stop production at the end of June. NPR says host Neal Conan will “step away from the rigors of daily journalism” after 35 years at NPR and 11 years hosting the show. Science Friday, with Ira Flatow, will continue.

To replace the mid-day staple program and to boost news coverage between its flagship drive-time show Morning Edition and All Things Considered, NPR is partnering with member station WBUR to expand the Boston station’s hourlong news magazine Here & Now to two hours. It will be updated throughout the afternoon as it airs in different time zones. The expanded Here & Now debuts July 1.

Here & Now host Robin Young (WBUR)

Here & Now host Robin Young (WBUR)

NPR relies on its network of affiliated stations to subscribe to its programs and contribute new stories and other editorial content. However, this level of strategic partnership with a member station such as WBUR is unprecedented.

“This is a different kind of collaboration,” said NPR Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson, “and one where we’ve kind of rolled up our sleeves together and imagined what this show, which is already successful, could become when expanded to two hours.”

Here & Now, which is currently hosted by Robin Young, will add a co-host. Jeremy Hobson currently hosts the Marketplace Morning Report. WBUR plans to add a total of six people to produce the expanded show. NPR will encourage public radio stations to replace Talk of the Nation with Here & Now and also contribute editorial muscle to the expanded show.

WBUR General Manager Charles Kravetz said, “There’s going to be a lot more NPR content and bloggers and reporters and editors who are going to contribute to the program. But at the core, the great program that Here & Now is will still be there and get better and better.”

Jeremy Hobson (Marketplace Morning Report)

Jeremy Hobson (Marketplace Morning Report)

NPR executives said the unusual move to seek to replace Talk of the Nation with WBUR’s Here & Now, which is carried by not even half as many stations across the country, is partly in response to long-voiced demands by member stations calling for more robust news coverage during the workday. The number of public radio listeners sags markedly between Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In 2003, NPR debuted a one-hour mid-day news magazine Day to Day, but canceled the show during the financial crisis four years ago. Today’s unusual alliance between NPR and one of its member stations reflects a more pragmatic approach to expanding news coverage. NPR has told staff it expects to run a deficit this year.

“Look, it’s a tough media economy right now,” said NPR’s Wilson. “And I don’t know that anybody can afford to go it alone these days. Collectively, we have much better prospects working together.”

Wilson declined to discuss the specifics of the business arrangement, saying only that it involves shared risk and shared reward. Still, NPR Senior Vice President for News Margaret Low Smith said collaboration sends a strong signal to member stations.

“This is pretty bold and exciting,” she said, “and makes a powerful statement about how we believe we can go forward together in public radio.”

WBUR has produced Here & Now since 1997 and made it a national program in 2001. It’s currently aired on 182 stations, including WBEZ Chicago, WHYY Philadelphia and KJZZ Phoenix.

Incoming co-host Hobson, 30, said he’s looking forward to joining a mid-day news magazine that differentiates itself to some extent from NPR’s existing flagship programs.

“It is a national news magazine that is based outside of the New York/D.C. news bubble,” he said. “It is not going to be consumed by the same news cycles that everybody else is following. It’s going to be a show that is going to do stories that are the most interesting and most important to the most people.”

Meghna Chakrabarti, co-host of WBUR’s Radio Boston, will serve as Here & Now’s primary backup host.

Conan expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to host Talk of the Nation for 11 years.

“I’m especially proud that we go out on top,” Conan said, “with the largest number of stations and the largest audience in the program’s history.”


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  • http://www.letstalkaboutfood.com/ Louisa

    Cool! robin Young is the best! 

  • NorthShoreGrandma

    I will miss “Talk of the Nation.” Also, what about “Fresh Air,” which is currently in the 1 pm slot? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

      I’m guessing it will air from 2 to 3 on WBUR, if the time slots for everything else remains the same.

  • NewSchool2009

    Wow . What a disappointment. I think one hour of Robin Young is enough. 

  • Amanda N

    Yay!  Good for Robin Young!  She is delightful.  I wish her all success!

  • Fred Lomas, subscriber

    TOTN’s
    Neal Conan’s insight and tact will be missed. 
    NPR and BUR are fortunate to have such depth of talent to draw on the
    likes of Robin Young who is truly one of the bright lights of public radio and
    I am very hopeful that Terry Gross will remain a staple of BUR’s daily
    programming.  (As an aside, I would love
    to hear back to back interviews of Robin Young interviewing Terry Gross and
    vise versa.) 

    • http://twitter.com/mequantum Pete Smillie

      I thought Conan tried to walk too fine a line. I’ll take a little more mindfulness and less tact…

  • Ric

    And when will Fresh Air air?

    • http://twitter.com/CurtNickisch Curt Nickisch

      In Boston, WBUR will air Fresh Air one hour later, at 2pm.

  • alan smithee

    had enough of terry gross. replace her with jim carrey.  : )

    • http://twitter.com/mequantum Pete Smillie

      You’re on to something. Fletcher Reede would be a great host.  The Nation would be informed, and laughing. “I mean, I want to squeeze them.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

    Sustained Applause

    Robin Young exemplifies Urim v’Thummim — Mindfulness and Empathy — better than any journalist I know of on public radio today.

    • Heldtoanswer

      “Mindfulness and Empathy” are hardly synonymous with robust news coverage.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

        Surely you don’t want to tune into a news magazine where the host manifests obliviousness and antipathy.    But if that’s what you want, I suggest you tune into Fox News.

        • Heldtoanswer

          I hope you didn’t hurt yourself when your knee jerked violently. Sorry, but I don’t like Fox News. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

            I don’t like misreporting, either.

  • PJT

    What about Fresh Air

  • Michael Bellefeuille

    I am very disappointed to hear that “Talk of the Nation,” Neal Conan, and presumably the Political Junkie segment will be going away. All three were among my favorite parts of listening to NPR during the day.

    • blueshift

      political junkie?! nooooo!!!

      (memo to robin:……)

  • bear7032

    Robin Young is the best! I hope having a co-host does not diminish her presence on the show. She is and always should be  the voice of Here and Now.

  • Mcclintocker

    One hour of Robin Young isn’t enough! We love her here in Vermont.
    Here and Now is the best thing on the radio.
    Also, glad to hear Meghna will be backup host, instead of the stiff, humorless
    automotrons we’ve had to listen to. Bravo!

    • gossipy

      Meghna is so tiresome.  Content is great but her style is lacking, she reminds me of valley girls.  Ugh.

      • blueshift

         Meghna has ideas and is creative. the guy she’s paired with though… “tell me how you feel about that,” “how do you respond to that,” and more of the same. I think Meghna will do well when paired with creative and enterprising talent.

  • http://twitter.com/iambrandsuz Suz Carter

    Go Meghna Chakrabarti :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dfischman Dennis Fischman

    Love Robin Young, enjoy Here & Now, but does this mean ALL the local content goes to Radio Boston???

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyFroggg J Frog

    So if ScienceFriday continues, that means H&N will be 2 hours, 4 days a week?  So we gain hours but lose a day of H&N?  Does Robin get a raise? 

    • http://twitter.com/CurtNickisch Curt Nickisch

      Here & Now will continue to air five days a week, but stations have the option to complement or replace the final weekday show with Science Friday.

      Here & Now will air from 12-2pm ET and “roll over” (essentially repeat) with updated or breaking news from 2pm-4pm ET.

      • http://twitter.com/JohnnyFroggg J Frog

         Thanks for the info!

      • David Hammer

        If there’s anyone from KUNI reading this, please don’t opt to replace Science Friday. I’m an avid supporter of this show and make it a point to have it on my radio on Friday afternoons. I’ve never heard Here & Now before and it may be great, but Science Friday is something I don’t think I can go without.

        • Jerry B

           I also listen on KUNI and enjoy Science Friday (except the apparent desire for NPR to get reporters who sound like jr high girls for reporting science).   TOTN gave depth to current events as does On Point.  I hope that Here & Now will meet these standards as well.

      • Lgordon2

        Seems to be an elaborate (or perhaps not so elaborate) ploy to simply dump ScienceFriday, by giving the illusion that ScienceFriday will be continued.

        As it is, SiriusXM has unceremoniously dropped ScienceFriday (as of July 26, 2018), as did KUOW.

        Really deplorable move by NPR.

  • Raoul Ornelas

    Robin Young is smart plus her voice makes the program interesting, however, two hours may be an overkill. Talk of Nation was pretty good but is was the same old problems aired without any change in the politics of the subjects plus their is never any resolve the problems discussed because Congress refused to move on any of the subjects discussed. The problem with all these talking head stations is that their are two many of them. I remember during the good old days in Seattle, Washington when KUOW had a great mix of jazz and classical music along with NPR news items including special features around the Sounds of Washington. Today the station is just another station airing angst without resolve. The the exception of PBS most of the T.V. stations are talking head stations. PBS is the best! Their news staff is sterling! I look forward on Fridays to hear Judy Woodruff interviewing David Brooks and Mark Shields – tow of the brightest and most intelligent people on the planet. PBS is somewhat like KUOW used to be. If one has no choice but to hear talking head angst stations, I would rather hear Robing Young’s voice….. there is something special about a woman’s voice. The bench mark for woman’s voices on radio is Canada’s CBC radio stations….. they must hire woman on the basis of their voices alone. There is a certain sparkle along with sex in their voices that make their programs tic that captures one’s ear plus CBC have interesting subjects. The old CBC program Ideas with Lister Sinclair  was the best….. his voice was fantastic. In a nutshell, I would much rather here Robins voice than Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly’s voice for two hours…… that’s a no brainer. Before I forget, Rachel Maddow is a genius…. she should run for office, she has voice along with the brains to resolve or eliminate the grey areas of politics. This is why Republicans hate her…. they hate women with brains.

  • Olipop

    Talk of the Nation?  Don’t remember ever hearing that in Atlanta…guess Lois doesn’t care for Neal Conan.

  • LKS

    Great news- congrats Robin!

    I do not like Talk of the Nation. I find the host beyond rude to callers who he frequently cuts off or talks over. Not sure the point of asking to call in if you obviously don’t want to hear any opinion other than yours and your guests.

    • aknman49

      I totally agree, and you make a point that I find difficult to explain to friends about why I don’t much care for TOTN, myself.  The host is always interrupting callers plus, if you ever dared calling-in yourself, you discovered the phone screeners to be curt, abrupt, and dismissive unless your comment pre-fit their pre-determined talking points.

      I also learned to rather loathe some of their previous hosts:  to this day, I cannot stand listening to Juan Williams or Ray Suarez, given their condescending, rude treatment of guests and callers alike during their brief tenures on the show. 

      It was a perilous decision to open NPR’s listenership to the vagaries of their reporting staff and it’s probably wise to cancel this particular entree.

    • Daniel Ross

      I disagree. Neal did a great job handling callers.

    • Cathysyoung

      I don’t think Here and Now is for educated people.  I think it is mindless drivel and cant listen to it for more than 2 or 3 minutes.  I find this new show fluffly and it reminds me of people on valium.  I even hate the music of thi show.

  • Alysha

    Too bad.  I love the 2 hours for Hear and Now, but really miss Talk of the Nation.  I feel the stories were informative but not always on the heavy side.  Also, Political Junkie must stay.  I never miss Wed. show.

  • aknman49

    I find this a curious decision, given the choices NPR could have made. 

    I really like Here and Now, so don’t get me wrong… but NPR could have kept a single-hour Here and Now followed with WNYC’s “The Takeaway” (exactly the format Sirius/XM has opted to use) or any of many other programs.

    I’m not nearly as sad to see TOTN disappear as when NPR pulled my very-favorite program, Day To Day, which was a program that teamed up with Slate.com and featured some very insightful and cutting-edge reporting.  Maybe Here and Now could integrate some help from Slate as well.  The combination made it top of my “don’t miss” listening.

    • Pointpanic

      “cutting edge” from Day to Day? Sorry but I must respectfully disagree. Among other things they did a series comparing the 2012 pers candidates to commercial brand productsex. John mccain was Pepsi because he was the “real thing” THIS on “public” radio. I’ve no use for Dayto Day Glad it’s gone.

      • aknman49

         Here’s an example of something that was edgy: 
        Tell me how many programs you heard that exposed the technically-legal-but-still-abusive last days of the Bush administration during its waning days? 

        Day to Day was one of the few (I can only cite one other) to report on Bush’s flurry of “midnight regulations,” which saddled the incoming administration was thousands (literally thousands) of rules and policies that Obama could not reverse for months or years.

        Sure, they tried (and often failed) to lighten things up at times but that doesn’t negate the great and daring stuff they also gave us.

        • Pointpanic

          Okay fari enough. I missed that episode.

  • Pointpanic

    I’m delighted to hear that  the sun will set onTalk of the Nation this summer . Over the years it has served ,by and large as a mouthpiece for the Pentagon and Wall St. I’ve called a few times for Neal Conan to step down and be replaced by someone ,more committed to NPR’s mission statement to bring ALL voices to the table.
                    I’m also apprehensive about “Here and Now”teaming up with NPR, given the latter’s biases towards the above mentioned institutions . Will we hear a wide variety of voices and opinons once this gets underway or will it be the same voices promoting  commercial television, High tech “innovation” , Wall St speculation and commercial advertising? Given his work with Market place morning report , and the free PR, this show gave today for Netflix, I have no reason to believe that Here and Now will not displace the public interest with a corporate agenda. This is not the BUR or the NPR I came to know and love as a college student in the 70s

    • Daniel Ross

      Neal is a masterful host whom I have only found to be abrupt when necessary, to cut off the ramblers. He has given fair treatment to all viewpoints and has a style that I have appreciated for its unobtrusive candor. It is a disappointment that the nation will be losing the conversation portion of NPR’s lineup.

  • Bev Weekes

    I love Robin Young…she is so knowledgeable, quick witted and easy to listen to.  TOTN, except for Wednesday with the Political Junkie was the only day I listened.  I, too, found Neil Conan to be abrupt & sometimes abrasive.  

    One question, which days does Robin host H&N?   I find it difficult to listen to Sasha Pfeiffer because, with her clipped style of speaking, she comes off as officious and just reading. 

  • Bev Weekes

    What days will Robin host?  Seems she’s not on a few days a week.

  • Daniel Ross

    I love Hear and Now, but It will be so hard to let Neal Conan go. Talk of the Nation was the highlight for me in NPR’s daily lineup. This is tough.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyFroggg J Frog

    Neal was very good, but I wasn’t a fan of the call-in format.  I prefer a produced show with good guests and prepared hosts (as opposed to listening to opinionated, semi-informed callers).  And besides, I’ve heard the phrase “long time listener, first time caller” enough to last me a lifetime. I welcome 2 hours of H&N.

  • Bek

    If Here and Now is going to take 2 hours of NPR in the middle of the day, I highly suggest they alter some of the production.  The sound/music cue to transition  to a break or commercial is my biggest problem with this show.  It happens so often in the middle of an important discussion with a guest, and it is extremely rude and unprofessional.  For instance, they cued music today while the guest was describing the horrible conditions refugee girls have to endure for a chance at freedom.  When you have a guest who has been through human rights abuse to find freedom, you should never cut them off during the difficult telling of their story.  If this continues, I will not be listening to such unprofessional behavior.

  • Paul D.

    One hour of Here and Now is sufficient. Why not pick up the second hour of Diane Rehm which WGBH dropped? Her show is far more interesting than On Point and she is able to attract more interesting guests. Definitely will miss Neal Coonan and TOTN. His Wednesday segment with Ken Rudin (Political Junkie) is a treasure which will be sorely missed. Time to break out the old Sinatra tunes from Noon to 2 p.m.
    Paul

  • blueshift

    Here and Now is my number one favorite program (has been for a while), a breath – a gust – of creativity, and a mid-day break from the inside the beltway prattle of national political radio. congratulations! and congratulations to us. i’m very happy with this development. (and stay away from the beltway!)

  • piltdownman

    I’m hoping that the new”"Here and Now” will now include listener calls, as I always liked that part of  ”Talk of the Nation.”  I’ll really miss Neal.   He did a wonderful job and will be missed, though I can certainly understand how hard doing a daily show on NPR can be draining;  ’cause you can’t phone it in!  He was just solid and wonderful.

    As others have noted, here’s hoping that “The Political Junkie” can be rolled into this new iteration of the “Here and Now.”  We love Ken Rudin!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sue.auclair Sue Auclair

    Yay Robin!  Hot stuff.  Excellent news for you and the entire Here & Now staff!

  • http://profiles.google.com/scottcmccarty Scott McCarty

    At Vermont Public Radio, we are very lucky to have Here & Now on at 1PM after our statewide news magazine, Vermont Edition. The program is always right on the pulse of what is going on in the world and provides a lot of clarification to the news that I hear during Morning Edition. I think this is good for public radio and I’m very excited for the change. Change is necessary sometimes and in this case, it’s a good change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1409274658 Lauren Powers Vickerman

    I couldn’t be happier!  LOVE Here and Now and while TOTN will be missed, this is a great alternative.  Just hope my NPR station is in on it…
    :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.rand.94 Bob Rand

    Long time fan of Robin Young and regular listener of WBUR.

    I’m hoping with the expansion that the tax supported news will “do some old fashioned digging” as Jay Carney likes to say. 

    Is it time for some questions?  What about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, did the Secret Service actually shut down the White House tours, is Obamacare causing increases in medical costs, why the drift towards socialism, why the assault the second amendment, the fifth amendment.  You get the point.

  • Swatson9

    Yuck one hour is more than enough

  • Samuel Green

    I’m still waiting on that Robin Young x Tom Ashbrook news show. Oh well, a boy can dream can’t he

  • Benn

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I find Robin Young absolutely insufferable. She has such a know-it-all tone and an affected coolness, betrayed by her countless “Well”s and “You know”s. Her questions seem more geared toward showcasing her own insightfulness than getting answers from her guests. All I can say is, thank goodness there will be another host and more produced segments…

    • Cathysoung

      I cannot stand to listen to Robin for more than a few sentence.  She sounds like she is trying to appeal to uneducated people.  The audience for TOTN  in general would not like this low brow, fluffy show.  Pure drivel. 

  • J__o__h__n

    Please continue Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie segment! 

  • B Y

    I like Here and Now  but will miss Neil Conan and Talk of the Nation!  :)  :(

  • LTaylor

    Not happy about this change.  Daytime programming has gotten WORSE at my NPR station ever since this supposed “demand for no news coverage” became the mantra.  At least this time it’s not more BBC, which was my local station’s response to that “demand”, that shoved Fresh Air to evening.  There was more than enough BBC for me already, and an hour of Here and Now is plenty, too.

  • Kd

    Sad to hear that this intelligent thoughtful show, is being replaced by Here & Now, a lightweight  news magazine. Two hours of Here & Now is excessive. Maybe there are other call-in shows but non with such depth, and such a series of sharp hosts from Hockenberry to Conan. Damn!

    • Kd

       And this leads me to wonder, what’s on GBH from noon to two?

  • Anabella

    Will definitely miss Neal, but it’s great news to know Robin and Here & Now will replace the treasured Talk of the Nation. As a former Bostonian, I am hoping Robin will retain the local flavoring to her reporting and not sanitize the news to be national. The show’s local perspective keeps me tied to Boston and New England, and I would hate to lose that!

  • missionbelle

    I’m disappointed to lose TOTN,  but do listen to Hear and Now, usually the first half, and enjoy the interviews.  The instant I hear that hideously annoying theme “music” I rush to turn to a different station.  Often I get too busy to get back to H&N.  They play it on and on and on between the 1/2-hour segments.  Torture, if I can’t get to the radio.  This is so petty I feel silly bringing it up, but I’m wondering if they’re going to drag that theme along on the new program.  I guess I’ll get as far as the end of the first 1/2 hour and then occasionally find new things for the next 1-1/2 hours.  I hope Neal Conan lands in a good place and maybe take “political junkie” with him so we can catch up with the latest political stuff.

    • Cathysyoung

      I hate the Here and Now music too!  It reminds me of people who are on valium.  i tried to be open minded when TOTN was off the air, but every time I accidentally land on this station as I scan the radio I have to rush to change the station.  This show is vile!!  

  • Dbdiny

    can not believe NPR is ending the best show on news and intelligent conversation for a yet another winy somewhat spacy female show. It was the last show on NPR i listened to.  For 40 years I’ve watched NPR degenerate to serve mass taste and entertainment, more and more like all other mass media .

  • guest

    ugggg…here we go again. just like in my local maarekt where you can watch ABC, CBS and NBC newsat 3:00 or 3:30 or 4:00 or 4:30 or 5:00 or 6:00 not to mention they start at 4 am….I think cable wins again as does satalite radio in this case. It’s a sad day ofr National Public Radio…as stated by NPR they are making the changes based on demand from their member largest member stations….I thought this was a public radio station and not a big box brand.

  • Ckeller76

    Ugh. I hate the change, I miss Talk of the Nation. Finding something else to listen to now during my workday. Sucks!!

    • Cathysoung

      I can’t agree more.  How could NPR replace a fantastic program with this drivel.  I can’t listen or it makes me ill.

  • Cathysyoung

    This Here and Now program is the worst drivel and I cannot believe that NPR cancelled a fantastic show for this.  Instead of faithfully tuning in to NPR, I scan channels and sometimes accidentally land on this show.  IT IS DREADFUL, FLUFFY and LIGHT.  
    How could NPR do this??  

  • stacey

    I was a fan of TOTN, tuning in frequently just to hear what the ‘talk’ was, planning my exercise routine around it… Instead, I now hear inane features like yesterday’s H&N one about bald eagles nesting in Conn?! I had to switch the radio off. The “coming up next” promos on it alone made me roll my eyes. At least look into giving us more BBC news time, or consider Diane Rehm — a lesser TOTN, but still a place to hear/participate in current discussions. I am a loyal 30-year NPR listener, and this is the first big fail from NPR and for our local affiliate.

  • Rich Hill

    Disappointed in NPR recent months after years of being a devoted listener especially to Talk of The Nation. Robin Young’s approach and personality do not work for me. and Here and Now likewise

  • Anonomus

    A disapointing change for the CHEAP

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