Bob Edwards, a Peabody-winning National Radio Hall of Famer who anchored NPR’s Morning Edition for nearly a quarter-century before moving to satellite radio, died Saturday. He was 76. National Public Radio announced his death but did not provide details.
Edwards joined the radio pubcaster in 1974 and soon afterward became a co-host of its signature news program All Things Considered with Susan Stamberg. He left that show in 1979 to be the founding anchor of Morning Edition, which he would host with his warm baritone until 2004. His first interview for the show was Charles Osgood, who died last month.
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“Bob Edwards understood the intimate and directly personal connection with audiences that distinguishes audio journalism from other mediums,” NPR CEO John Lansing wrote in announcing the death, “and for decades he was a trusted voice in the lives of millions of public radio listeners.”
Edwards was removed as Morning Edition not long before what would have been his 25th anniversary on the show. He opted not to stay on as a senior correspondent and instead moved to pre-merger Sirius Satellite Radio. There he led The Bob Edwards Show, in which he interviewed interesting people for up to an hour, compared to a maximum of eight minutes on his NPR show.
Sirius also ran Bob Edwards Weekend, a show that compiled clips from his interviews from the previous week. Both of Edwards’ satellite radio shows would run for a decade, ending in 2014.
Edwards also was a former SAG-AFTRA National Board member and a pre-merger national president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. While serving as an AFTRA leader, he played a role in its 2012 merger of Screen Actors Guild and was a founding member of the joint Group for One Union.
“When you heard Bob’s voice come on the radio, you could be sure you were going to learn something new, discover an interesting person or simply be entertained,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement. “He was the consummate newsman who brought the world to his listeners — and they loved him for it. Millions of us will miss his sonorous baritone and his warm personality that could be felt even across the airwaves. Behind the scenes, Bob’s work was no less impressive. As a union leader, he fought tirelessly over more than three decades to improve the lives of his fellow broadcasters.”
Born on May 16, 1947, in Louisville, KY, Edwards served in the Army during the Vietnam War, where he produced TV and radio segment from Seoul for what then was called Armed Forces Network. He began his radio career in 1968 at a small station in New Albany, IN, and by his mid-20s was anchoring national radio shows for Mutual Broadcasting System.
He won a Peabody Award in 1999 for his Morning Edition work and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame five years later.
A longtime friendship and working relationship with Hall of Fame baseball announcer Red Barber led to Edwards’ book Friday with Red: A Radio Friendship, which was published in 1993. He also rote Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism (2004) and the memoir A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio (2011). Edwards later hosted a podcast called Take on Today for AARP.
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