NPR announced Friday morning that it will no longer produce the Monday-to-Thursday call-in show Talk of the Nation.
Neal Conan, Talk of the Nation's host, will depart after more than three decades with the network. His past positions include stints as bureau chief in New York and London, and as NPR's foreign editor, managing editor, and news director.
NPR executives said public radio has a glut of vibrant call-in shows involving national issues — and that they sought a news magazine with a mix of interviews and prepared stories to bridge the hours between Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
The network is also running a $7 million dollar deficit. Executives say Conan was welcome to stay with NPR and that they intend to offer jobs to every staffer working for Talk of the Nation.
Here and Now is on far fewer stations than Talk of the Nation — 182 versus 407 — but it has been growing. NPR executives hope stations that previously carried Talk of the Nation will pick up its replacement.
Science Friday, NPR's weekly science talk show that airs at the end of the workweek in the hours that Talk of the Nation broadcasts from Monday to Thursday, is to continue.
Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. 'Talk' To Go Off The Air At The End Of July; Decision Came After Discussions With Stations:
The New York Times adds that the plan "is the product of discussions that began more than two years ago between NPR and some of its biggest member stations. The stations wanted a magazine-style news show at the middle of the day, something along the lines of Morning Edition and All Things Considered, the two bookends of most stations' weekday schedules."
"Together, we're addressing both what the audience is looking for and what member stations have been looking for," Kinsey Wilson, NPR's executive vice president and chief content officer, told the Times.
The switch of shows will start July 1, immediately after Talk of the Nation goes off the air, WBUR adds. The Boston station also notes that:
"In 2003, NPR debuted a one-hour mid-day news magazine Day to Day, but canceled the show during the financial crisis three 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.' "
Update at 9:35 a.m. ET. Executives Say It's Not About The Deficit:
Network executives say the move is not intended to plug the $7 million deficit, which amounts to less than 4 percent of NPR's annual operating budget. Instead, they say, it's about ensuring that money and personnel are being used in ways that make sense in today's media environment.
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