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Bob Edwards, longtime host of NPR’s ‘Morning Edition,’ dies at 76

<i>Larry Busacca/Getty Images</i><br/>Bob Edwards
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Bob Edwards

By Eva Rothenberg, CNN

New York (CNN) — Bob Edwards, the longtime National Public Radio host and a goliath of the broadcasting world, died on Saturday, his wife, NPR reporter Windsor Johnston, confirmed in a Facebook post. He was 76.

“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,” NPR CEO John Lansing said in a statement Monday. “Staff at NPR and all across the Network, along with those millions of listeners, will remember Bob Edwards with gratitude.”

Edwards began his 30-year tenure at NPR in 1974, when the network was still in its infancy. He co-hosted “All Things Considered,” NPR’s evening show, before spearheading “Morning Edition” as its inaugural host in 1979, a position he held until 2004.

In 1989, as the program was celebrating its 10th anniversary, then-NPR Executive Producer Ellen McDonnell told the Los Angeles Times that Edwards’ personality really made the show what it was.

“Everyone feels they know Bob,” she said. “We did research for our anniversary to see where we’ve been and where we should be going, and the one thing that constantly came through is his warmth. People really believe they know Colonel Bob from Kentucky, that he’s their friend. It’s stunning.”

Raised in Kentucky, Edwards started his journalism career at a radio station in New Albany, Indiana, while he was a senior in college, according to the University of Louisville, his alma mater. After finishing school, he was drafted into the US Army, where he continued to host and produce programs for the American Forces Korea Network.

Edwards won a number of accolades throughout his career, including the 1984 Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, two Gabriel Awards from the National Catholic Association of Broadcasters, the Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Award, and a Peabody Award.

“Morning Edition will continue to be my first source for news,” he wrote in a letter to listeners about his exit. “I encourage all of its listeners to stay with the program. It will continue to bring them the most in-depth and thoughtful journalism in broadcasting. I hope you continue to listen and support your public radio station.”

Although he initially said he “(planned) to be here at NPR for the long haul” and served a short stint as senior correspondent, Edwards soon left NPR for satellite radio SiriusXM, where he hosted “The Bob Edwards Show” until 2014. That same year, he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

Edwards was also the author of three books: “Fridays with Red,” about his friendship with sportscaster Red Barber; “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism,” a history of the broadcast pioneer; and “A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio,” a memoir about his career in radio journalism.

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