Robert Siegel has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered for more than 30 years. His voice has become familiar sound for listeners on their afternoon drive home, here in Idaho and across the country.
He retires from NPR on January 5, 2018.
Tom Michael spoke with him about the role of NPR in the changing American media landscape, the nation's skepticism in the news business, and how he prepares for an interview. Siegel also reveals that Idaho is one of the few states he hasn't visited.
Here is our full conversation with Robert Siegel. He discusses how he developed his signature NPR sound and what he considers his career highlights.
Some highlights from our conversation.
- On skepticism of the news media: “We don’t twitch to poll which says that trust in the media is down. We do what we do. “
- On the NPR style influencing other news media: “When NPR began, it was still fairly novel for journalists in broadcasting to speak like normal human beings.”
- On the NPR headquarters being in Washington D.C.: “I think we’re very fortunate to be based in Washington. Although I’m a New Yorker, and it hurts me to say this, even I don’t wake up every morning wondering what’s happening in New York that’s going to affect me. Nor everything that’s happening in Los Angeles. But I do think every day what’s happening in Washington that may affect me. So I think we’re based in the right place.”
- On the different styles of presenting the news: “It’s a balance. Everything about this line of work is all art and no science … I think one of our purposes is to translate from a variety of jargons and localisms into a common spoken language. I think that’s one thing that we do in radio.“
- On quietude among the din. “The studio from which we are originating All Things Considered is a very quiet peaceful place when we’re on the air. The control room, through the glass where they’re calling out what happens next and cueing things up, that’s a somewhat more chaotic place. … but our space is very quiet and very controlled.”
- On his high points as a journalist. “I’m proud of a lot of reporting that I did from eastern and central Europe way back in the 1980s and ‘90s, covering what I didn’t know at the time would be the end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Bloc, but it was. “
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