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For immediate release
January 24, 2002
Contact: NPR
Jenny Lawhorn

Radio Series Unveils the Origins of 52 American Icons

WASHINGTON, DC-The rocking chair. "Nighthawks." Levi's. The Hollywood sign. The origin of "OK." These and dozens of American icons will form a yearlong NPR® series, Present at the Creation, airing Mondays in 2002 on Morning Edition® with Bob Edwards. Present at the Creation explores the artistry and inventiveness behind the designs, sounds, images and writings that helped shape American culture.

The panorama of subjects to be examined throughout the year include characters like John Henry and Nancy Drew; language and expressions such as the peace sign and the word "cool;" places and objects from the shopping mall to the totem pole; works of film, theatre and television such as A Streetcar Named Desire and The Twilight Zone, and a variety of other subjects.

Inspired by NPR's Peabody Award-winning NPR 100 music series, Present at the Creation was developed by a team of NPR staffers who compiled a long list of creative works that included visual arts, film, television, music, fashion, photography, food, games, advertising, literature, fictional characters, places and monuments. Nominations had to meet two of three criteria: the work had to be widely recognized; it had to have been created in order to express an idea or value; and it had to have moved people or inspired awe.

A panel of artists and scholars were asked to review the list. They pared it down, added some works of their own, and ultimately helped NPR identify the creations that have become a vital part of the American experience.

A comprehensive Present at the Creation Web site with audio, visuals, a discussion area and related materials will be available in February at

NPR, renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, serves a growing audience of more than 16 million Americans each week via more than 640 public radio stations. NPR Onlinesm at brings hourly newscasts, news features, commentaries and live events to Internet users through original online reports, audio streaming and other multimedia elements. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwide, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable