He has been told, more or less, that he is a dinosaur. No one used that specific word, of course, but it's out there, the subtext to NPR's announcement that after nearly 25 years, Edwards, 56, is being removed from the "Morning Edition" anchor chair. The show, network executives have said, needs to move in a new direction, with dual hosts who also report from the field, a quicker response to breaking news and more diverse voices. To quote from an online chat by Jay Kernis, senior vice president for programming, the Edwards model "is no longer sufficient to bring the weight of credible, in-depth reporting that we are demanding of ourselves."I was surprised when Louis Rukhyser (sp?) left PBS for CNBC, but I figured it was for the money, and was disappointed in him. But then I found out that PBS fired him!!! Well, there's a time slot they lost me for, and I'm not sure how much of an opportunity I'm going to give NPR now that they've decided to 'fire' Bob. I mean, it's not like he was screwing an intern, or led the country in to a war on false pretenses or something.
And so this particular morning -- "Tuesday, April 27th," as Edwards intones at the top of the hour -- is one of his last behind the microphone in the second-floor studio at NPR's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters. Tomorrow will mark his final show. After a three-month break, he will return to NPR in late July as a senior correspondent.
"My feeling is, you have people in the field and you have people here," Edwards says. "I thought they had it right. The childless and single would go out and cover wars, and the rest of us would be here at the microphone. But I guess that's not what they want anymore."
That's what he's been told?
"Yes, but that's the explanation of the week," he says.
He's gotten more than one?
"Well, yeah, haven't you?" he says. "You can follow them if you read the papers." The decision to remove Edwards -- whose deep, smooth voice draws 13 million early-morning listeners to NPR every week -- has been a publicity disaster for the network. Made on March 23, the announcement generated widespread criticism in the media and an avalanche of mail from angry listeners, many of whom felt that the network had proven itself to be out of touch with -- or, worse yet, indifferent to -- community opinion.