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Bob Edwards, veteran NPR broadcaster and longtime 'Morning Edition' host, dies at 76

Edwards, a Peabody winner and member of the Radio Hall of Fame, was remembered as "a trusted voice in the lives of millions of public radio listeners."
Bob Edwards during his XM Radio show
Bob Edwards during his XM Radio show in New York in 2007.Seth Wenig / AP

Veteran broadcaster Bob Edwards, the longtime National Public Radio host who helped build the "Morning Edition" news program, has died at age 76, NPR announced Monday.

An institution at NPR, Edwards joined the network as a newscaster in 1974 and went on to become the voice “NPR listeners started their day with” for 24? years as the host of “Morning Edition,” NPR CEO John Lansing said in a statement Monday morning.

Edwards died “peacefully” Saturday night with his daughters and wife, NPR anchor Windsor Johnston, at his side, his wife said in a statement.?

"He smiled as we played the well wishes, loving memories and messages of healing that you all so kindly took the time to record for him," Johnston wrote. "A tear slid down his face as he listened to those familiar voices under the bed of the old 'Morning Edition' theme."

No cause of death was shared.

“We are saddened to hear that Bob Edwards has passed away,” Lansing said in a statement. “Bob Edwards understood the intimate and distinctly personal connection with audiences that distinguishes audio journalism from other mediums, and for decades he was a trusted voice in the lives of millions of public radio listeners.

"Staff at NPR and all across the Network, along with those millions of listeners, will remember Bob Edwards with gratitude,” Lansing added.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1947, Edwards started his career as a newscaster for an Indiana station and worked in Korea with Armed Forces Radio and Television, according to his Radio Hall of Fame biography.

After he joined NPR in 1974, he was asked to join Susan Stamberg as co-host of the new NPR news program “All Things Considered.” In 1979, "Morning Edition" launched — a brand?he soon became synonymous with.?

In his work for "Morning Edition," he won two Gabriel Awards from the National Catholic Association of Broadcasters, the Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Award and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2004.?

Edwards was ousted as the host of "Morning Edition" in 2004 after decades — a move that sparked much outcry from longtime listeners, prompted outraged newspaper editorials and provoked condemnation from Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on the Senate floor.

"It turns out members of Congress on both sides of the aisle feel as I do — that this decision by National Public Radio is the wrong decision; that Bob Edwards, who has been not only a host of this program but the most successful morning voice in America, is being moved away from this assignment in a situation and in a circumstance that is almost impossible to understand," Durbin said on April 1, 2004.

At the time, NPR said Edwards would become senior correspondent with reports heard on various?network broadcasts, a change made to “refresh” the network’s broadcasts, The Associated Press reported.

Instead, Edwards left NPR and moved to XM Satellite Radio to launch "The Bob Edwards Show," which ran through 2014. He went on to host the podcast "Take on Today" by AARP.

He also wrote three books: “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast,” “Fridays with Red: A Radio Friendship” and “A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio.”?

Johnston remembered her husband of 12 years as a “behemoth” in the world of broadcasting.

“He was a stickler for even the tiniest of details and lived by the philosophy that ‘less is more.’ He helped pave the way for the younger generation of journalists who continue to make NPR what it is today,” she wrote. “On a personal note, Bob was the absolute love of my life. He was an extremely loving and supporting partner, not to mention my greatest admirer.”

"It’s unbearable to think of a life without him, but until we meet again I’ll continue to listen for that beautiful voice in my ear, wishing me luck and telling me to 'break a lip,'" she added. "Rest in peace, my love."


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