When NPR nearly crashed in 1983, Morning Edition, then in its fourth year, was already too strong to be one of the disaster’s victims. Before Morning Edition, most NPR stations did not even show up in the Arbitron ratings for morning drive time. By the program’s first anniversary in November 1980, member stations had seen their morning audiences double, triple, or quadruple. A few had done even better. In hindsight, it’s easy to say this success was predictable. After all, NPR was merely inserting a strong news program into radio’s peak time slot. Those who would say that have never launched a radio program.
Every new project has a shakedown period, and ours lasted about a year. Producers Frank Fitzmaurice and Jay Kernis received daily feedback from stations, listeners, and NPR staff. Some things worked and some didn’t. The opening theme was shortened, and there was some tinkering with the clock, adjusting the points where program segments began and ended.
My cohost, Barbara Hoctor, left the program for personal reasons after just four months, and it was decided she would not be replaced. To the listener, I already had other cohosts—hundreds of them. Since Morning Edition was a modular program with local stations cutting in and out of the national broadcast, each station had its own local Morning Edition host handling the local inserts. A local host added to two