Saying Goodbye To The Old NPR Headquarters

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NPR is saying goodbye to the building that has housed Weekend Edition Saturday and many of its other programs for 19 years. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon brings some of his colleagues favorite "Hallway moments" as they bid farewell.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good morning. We're here to...


So I've stepped out of the studio and into NPR's lobby. I'm standing near our front door. This is our last show from this building. Next week, we'll be the first NPR show to be broadcast from new studios that are just a few blocks away. But this building has housed our show, and much of NPR, for the last 19 years. A cavalcade of interesting people have walked through these doors and down our hallways - artists, tourists, musicians, movie stars, business leaders, politicians, regular citizens with stories to share. So to end this hour of our program, we've asked some of our colleagues for their favorite Hallway Moments.


WALTER RAY WATSON: My name is Walter Ray Watson. I'm a producer here at NPR. I was walking down into the lobby - really, a room full of 25, 30 people milling about, waiting to go on a tour of NPR's headquarters. And off in the corner, out by himself, was this guy sort of - you know, beating on his chest, doing, you know, ululations and nobody even looks over to pay attention; that they had six or seven minutes of serenade from Bobby McFerrin.


JULIE ROVNER: I'm Julie Rovner, health policy correspondent here at NPR. And in 2004, I was actually still only working here part time. So I was never here when like, the cool people came to get interviewed. And I actually found out from one of my colleagues, Joe Palca, that Mel Brooks was going to be here; and I thought that was really cool. And my favorite memory is that afterwards, instead of leaving, he came in. And he insisted on introducing himself and shaking hands with every single one of us who'd been standing there sort of, you know, playing hooky and watching this interview. And I thought that was just so sweet and so touching. It will be my favorite memory from this building.


RON ELVING: This is Ron Elving. I'm the Washington editor at NPR. One day I was sitting in my little Washington editor office. And I looked up to see an extraordinary presence in my doorway. It had to be Bonnie Raitt, whom I had only been admiring since her first album back in 1971. And she was standing in my doorway, and asked me if I could help her find Scott Simon.


BONNIE RAITT: (Singing) Let's give 'em something to talk about, let's give 'em something to talk about...

BOB MONDELLO: Hi. I'm Bob Mondello, movie critic for ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Here in D.C., I'm not likely to run into Hollywood folks. But one day, I'm listening as the piece before my really negative review of Ron Howard's "The Paper" plays over the speakers in the hall. And who steps out of the elevator? Ron Howard.


DON GONYEA: This is Don Gonyea. I cover politics for NPR. It wasn't long after the 2000 elections; I was recently back to the building, here at NPR. And I step out of the elevators, and this very tall human being walks past - with a rumpled suit, his trademark. It was none other than Ralph Nader. Nader had been a big player in the presidential election because he was on the ballot in Florida, and people voted for Ralph Nader. And if Al Gore had gotten those votes, Al Gore might have spent the next four - possibly eight - years as president instead of George W. Bush. There was Mr. Nader; don't know who he was talking to, but I can tell you he was here to defend his role in that election.


SIMON: You know what I'll remember - how nice it's been to see tourists in these halls, snapping pictures and swiveling around to put a face to the voices that they know so well. I remember once asking a man from Washington state, what brings you here? He said, well, we couldn't get in to the National Zoo.

So we'll be back next week with our first broadcast from our new studios. And we say goodbye to the place that's been our broadcast home for 997 shows.


SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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