The commuting hours became radio’s prime time once TV captured the nighttime audience. That’s why All Things Considered is broadcast during the late afternoon and evening rush hour. It took NPR nearly a decade to launch a major program in morning drive time, when the radio audience is even bigger.
Morning Edition was the dream of NPR president Frank Mankiewicz, programming vice president Sam Holt, and news vice president Barbara Cohen (now Barbara Cochran). In 1978, they hired a consultant, Larry Lichty, and formed a planning committee of NPR reporters and producers. These dozen or so people were the sole supporters of Morning Edition. The rest of us at NPR wanted nothing to do with it—indeed many were hostile to the very idea of a second big program.
Since its first broadcast in 1971, All Things Considered had defined NPR. It was not the only program we had, but it was the focus of all our attention and most of our precious few resources. Those of us on the ATC staff in the late seventies were proud of the program and very protective of it. We saw Morning Edition as a potential threat—not only to our status as NPR’s premier program but also as a drain on the limited money, material, and energy NPR had at that time. It wasn’t just jealousy on our part. We feared NPR would end up with two mediocre programs instead of the one great one it already had. Staff reporters shared our concerns. They put no faith in management’s promises that Morning Edition would somehow provide its own material with no help from