I was one of those listeners who wrote to NPR complaining when they fired Bob Edwards. Until then, I was a faithful morning listener. He was the voice of so many morning commutes when I was in Florida. Like so many of his listeners, I cried when he announced that Red Barber died. I loved their conversations on Friday mornings. Now, in A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio, Edwards tells about his long career in broadcasting.
Edwards started his career on a small radio station in New Albany, Indiana when he was just twenty-one. Even as a little boy in Kentucky, he wanted to be on the radio. But, it was the Vietnam War that actually set him on his path. He went to college because of the war, married because of it, and was drafted. Fortunately, he ended up in Korea, where he worked for AFKN, the American Forces Korean Network. And, he went to grad school in journalism because he learned he could get out of the army three months early by going to grad school.
The chapter on Edwards’ time at American University in Washington, D.C. is worth the entire book. It was there he learned, and took to heart, the principles of journalism from the legendary Ed Bliss. Anyone who values what journalism used to be, instead of the media circus it has become, will appreciate this chapter, and Bliss’ values.
But, it was the years at National Public Radio, first as co-host of All Things Considered with Susan Stamberg, and then as host of Morning Edition, that made up the bulk of Edwards’ career. And, he tells about the highs and lows of those years, including stories of some of the remarkable people he worked with there. And, he tells of the fiasco NPR made of his firing, while he continued to take the high road during a three month final tour of the stations.
Bob Edwards has moved on, to XM Satellite Radio, that became Sirius XM Radio. Now, he’s the host of The Bob Edwards Show there, and Bob Edwards Weekend, distributed to public radio stations by Public Radio International (PRI). And, he’s moved on to cover stories that reflect the best journalism practices, the lessons he learned in grad school. But, he hasn’t moved on from the heart of many listeners, who still treasure listening to him. A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio is one of those satisfying accounts for all of us who continue to admire outstanding journalists, and what they stand for.
A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio by Bob Edwards. The University Press of Kentucky. ©2011. ISBN 9780813134505 (hardcover), 214p.
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