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For immediate release
September 20, 2001
Contact: Jessamyn D. Sarmiento,
202-513-2307;
jsarmiento@npr.org



Neal Conan is Named New Host for Talk of the Nation®

WASHINGTON, DC - Award-winning journalist Neal Conan will become the new host of Talk of the Nation, the national news-talk call-in show from NPR News, effective immediately. Conan has served as acting host of the program since September 3, 2001. Conan brings 25 years of news and radio experience to the show, which reaches more than 2.2 million listeners a week on 180 NPR member stations.

"Talk of the Nation is a news show, but it is also a national conversation. Each day our goal is to create a show where both of these elements combine," said Conan. "Talk will be intellectually agile in exploring the world of ideas with the leading thinkers, policymakers and creative artists. The show will live up to its name by bringing to the air the issues, events, concerns and fascinations of Americans."

Conan is well known to public radio audiences. He has been a regular substitute host for NPR's newsmagazines, as well as Talk of the Nation, and also filled in on other NPR-distributed shows including Fresh Air with Terry Gross and The Connection. He also was the first host of Weekly Edition: The Best Of NPR News. Over the past days, Conan has played a major role in anchoring continuous live coverage of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, and their aftermath. His broadcasts have been marked by their clarity, accuracy and eloquence.

"Neal brings tremendous strengths to the show," said Bruce Drake, Vice President for News and Information. "He is a versatile and engaging host. As a reporter, he's covered just about everything there is to cover. And as a former producer, he has an instinct for what a show's sound and feel should be."

"Talk's audience reached a record high during Juan Williams' tenure, and we're determined to see that growth continue," said Drake.

Conan frequently has been called on to anchor special coverage of major breaking news stories, such as the impeachment proceedings against former President Clinton in 1998-99. Conan was one of the principal correspondents in NPR's 1991 Gulf War coverage that won the prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award. He reported from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, and during one of his assignments in Iraq, was captured by the Republican Guard and held hostage for about a week along with three-dozen journalists.

Conan's other awards include the 1987 Armstrong Award for his coverage of U.S. military actions in the Persian Gulf and two Citations of Excellence from the Overseas Press Club (for his 1972 reporting on Northern Ireland and for 1980 coverage of events in Afghanistan). During his tenure as producer and executive producer of All Things Considered, the show won numerous awards, including the Washington Journalism Review's Best in the Business Award.

Last year, Conan took a leave of absence from NPR News to work as the radio announcer for the Aberdeen Arsenal, a baseball team in the independent Atlantic League. During the season, he filed a series of commentaries on life on the fringe of professional sports for Morning Edition with Bob Edwards. A book based on his experiences, Play by Play: Baseball, Radio And Life In The Last Chance League, is scheduled to be published by Crown Books in April, 2002.

Conan started his career as a freelance reporter and writer in New York before joining NPR in 1977. He was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1949.