Sunday, August 9, 2009

Media: Please Stay Awhile, Mr. Raz

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Today, Guy Raz will complete his second weekend as permanent host of the weekend version of National Public Radio's All Things Considered. A cynic would say that means he's already established himself as a long-term host of the show, which has seemed like a revolving door for hosts since Lynn Neary left the show in 1992 after eight years at the helm. Based on the quality of the program the past few weekends, I'm hoping he sticks around for awhile.

I started listening to Weekend All Things Considered well into the the Neary era of the show. To this day, I still consider her the signature host of the program--in part because nobody has come close to matching her tenure. In the seventeen years since she left the program, "permanent" hosts of the program (that I remember) include Katie Davis, Daniel Zwerdling, Lisa Simeone, Steve Inskeep, Jennifer Ludden, Debbie Elliott, and Andrea Seabrook. In between these "permanent" hosts, a large number of fill-in hosts have been heard, most notably Jacki Lyden. As NPR's own press release upon Lisa Simeone's assumption of the chair in 2000 put it, "During the national search for a permanent host, NPR senior correspondent and alternate host Jacki Lyden has been Weekend All Things Considered's most reliable and regular presence." Nine years later in 2009, during the period between Seabrook's reassignment as Congressional correspondent and the announcement of Guy Raz as permanent host, who did much of the fill-in work? That's right, Jacki Lyden again. Arguably, Lyden, not Neary, should be considered the standard host of the program.

So why has the chair been so hard to fill? Many weekend hosts have moved on to more attractive positions. Neary spent time filling in on the weekday edition of the show before becoming NPR's religion correspondent and today covers books and publishing, as well as filling in on various NPR newsmagazines and Talk of the Nation. Daniel Zwerdling (the longest-term host since Neary, from 1993 to 1999) moved into television before returning to radio. Steve Inskeep became host of Morning Edition. Others returned to reporting assignments that they preferred.

Interestingly, neither Katie Davis nor successor Daniel Zwerdling appears in the Wikipedia entry on weekend hosts of All Things Considered. Could this be because Davis sued NPR in 1995 for gender-based discrimination after NPR found only a minor position for her after installing Zwerdling in the host chair she had held for a about a year and a half?

The instability in the position has long-since become tiresome. Here's hoping that Guy Raz will stick around for awhile.

1 comment:

Iris said...

Hi. It's spelled "Raz." Guy Raz.