Bob Edwards, host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” for nearly a quarter-century whose rich baritone and cool demeanor gave his radio shows the authority to reach millions of listeners, died Saturday. He was 76.
NPR, which announced his death on Monday, did not give a reason or where he died.
Mr. Edwards, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who knew from a young age that he wanted to work in radio, joined NPR in 1974 during the Watergate hearings. This year, he became co-host of “All Things Considered,” the public broadcaster’s signature evening newsmagazine with interviews, analysis and features. The success led to the spin-off “Morning Edition” in 1979.
Mr. Edwards initially served as interim host of this program for 30 days before serving as its host for 24.5 years.
“Bob Edwards understood the intimate and deeply personal connection with audiences that distinguishes audio journalism from other media,” NPR executive director John Lansing said in a statement, “and for decades he was a trusted voice in the daily lives of millions of people.” NPR listeners.”
Susan Stamberg, his co-host on “All Things Considered,” described the chemistry between oil and vinegar in an interview with NPR for its obituary for Mr. Edwards.
“We had five good – if rocky – years together before we kind of found each other’s rhythm, because he was Mr. Cool, he was Mr. Authoritative and straight forward,” she said. “I was the New Yorker with a million ideas and a big laugh. But we’ve actually adapted pretty well.”
For a quarter of a century she called him “the voice we woke up to.”
On “Morning Edition,” Mr. Edwards interviewed thousands of prominent news figures, including singer Dolly Parton and noted baseball announcer Red Barber, with whom he co-hosted a popular regular commentary section.
Mr. Edwards was ousted from “Morning Edition” in 2004, a move that prompted protests from listeners and even reached the halls of Congress, where Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, rose on the Senate floor to object to Mr. Edwards called “the most successful morning voice in America.”
Mr. Edwards discussed his exit from the show with his NPR colleague Scott Simon, saying, “Tastes change and they have different ideas about the show and who should do it.” He was replaced by Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne.
Robert Alan Edwards was born on May 16, 1947. He knew he had a voice for radio when, as a child, he would answer the phone and callers would say “Hello, Mr. Edwards,” assuming he was his father, Mr. Simon said.
Early in his career, he worked for a station in Indiana and in Korea for Armed Forces Radio and Television, according to a biography in the Radio Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 2004. In 2000, he won a Peabody Award for “Morning Edition,” which the awards committee described as “two hours of daily in-depth news and entertainment under the expert direction of a man who embodies the essence of excellence in radio.”
After his final “Morning Edition” broadcast on April 30, 2004, Mr. Edwards hosted the “Bob Edwards Show” on SiriusXM Radio, which ran until 2014, and “Bob Edwards Weekend,” which aired on public radio stations.
“He paid attention to even the smallest details and lived by the philosophy of ‘less is more,'” his wife, Windsor Johnston, an NPR reporter and anchor, wrote on Facebook Monday. “He helped pave the way for the younger generation of journalists who continue to make NPR what it is today.”
A full obituary will appear shortly.