Tributes

Susan Stamberg

From Susan Stamberg
NPR Special Correspondent

In the 1970s, Bob and I co-hosted All Things Considered for five years. He was in diapers in those days. Once Morning Edition went on the air, I never saw him again after twelve noon (his going-home time for the last almost-25 years). Although I will miss him as the first voice I hear in the morning (not counting my husband's snores), it will be a treat to encounter him in real life, in our halls, at all hours of the afternoon in his new job as a correspondent. I'm grateful for all these years of early morning contributions. And so looking forward to what he has to say to us in coming mornings and afternoons.

Cokie Roberts

From Cokie Roberts
NPR News Analyst

Sometimes I'll be someplace when a total stranger walks up to me and says, "Hi, Bob." We've had some wonderful Monday mornings. Now I'm looking forward to saying hi to you in person, at reasonable hours of the day. And I can't wait to read the book! Here's to the next act!

Love, Cokie

Scott Simon

From Scott Simon
Host, Weekend Edition Saturday

A whole generation of Americans have grown up hearing Bob tell them who won or lost (elections, wars, and the World Series), what happened while they slept, who's been born, who's died, and who's having a birthday. He has been the very voice of history, and losing his morning companionship will be as hard as losing the kind of old friend you could always rely on to tell you some news, give you a laugh, and steady you through rough times.

However, for the first time in 25 years, Bob can now stay up late enough to watch West Coast ball games.

Juan Williams

From Juan Williams
NPR Senior Correspondent

Twenty-five years of Bob is not enough. In fact, I'm willing to argue that Bob has been here longer than 25 years. I remember a conversation with Ari Fleischer, President Bush's former press secretary, who said that in his morning briefings 90 percent of the reporters had questions for the day based on what they heard from Bob Edwards and Morning Edition. Bob's voice was the sound of comfort and certainty after 9-11 and it is the touchstone of constancy and balance in a chaotic world. It will always be the standard of excellence in American broadcasting.

Nina Totenberg

From Nina Totenberg
NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent

Dear Bob,

Welcome to the ranks of reporting. Not that you haven't been doing that for years in your own way. But now you can do it all during the light of day! Imagine that!

When I came to NPR, lo those many years ago, you taught me a huge amount about broadcasting, and writing for radio. So, it is particularly fitting that you have written this wonderful book about Edward R. Murrow, the master of reporting, writing, and just telling a story. You are a master too, and I can't wait to hear your masterpieces on the air. In the meantime, have a wonderful time on the book tour, sell lots of books, and tell our listeners hi for me.

Nina T.

Linda Wertheimer

From Linda Wertheimer
NPR Senior National Correspondent

Dear Bob,

Like the rest of America, I cannot imagine waking up in the morning without you murmuring news of fresh disasters in my ear. Somehow you did it in a way that made it possible for me to crawl out of bed and get on with my day — thank you for that. And you did it after going to bed in daylight and getting up in darkness.

I can only assume that if Bob Edwards sleeps through the night, there's no limit to what he might do. I imagine still more stories about Louisville, more books, maybe even more nightlife.

Here's a lucky break — your wardrobe of baggy pants and floppy shirts is now OK in the day. Since the dawn of Office Casual, everyone wears their jammies to work.

Congratulations on the Edward R. Murrow biography. We've talked often about what he meant to both of us. When you get back from the book tour... there is something I've waited 25 years to ask. Can we do lunch?

Love, Linda

Ketzel Levine

From Ketzel Levine
Morning Edition Correspondent

Sometimes I think I was actually put on the planet so that Red Barber could have a second shot at the majors. But all I did was make the contact and get him on the air. Without Colonel Bob, there would have never been a single Friday with Red, let alone years of gracious, life-affirming Fridays. This was a gift only Bob could give, and boy, did he ever give it.

Ketzel Levine, Morning Edition class of '79

Frank Deford

From Frank Deford
Commentator, Morning Edition

Most appropriately, I will be in (as they say it) Loolville this Friday, ready to watch the Derby, so I will be listening to your swansong from your old Kentucky home. Carol and I will then — well, come the proper drinking time — lift juleps to the man who made Morning Edition and brought such charm and assurance to our mornings lo these many years.

Godspeed, Bob, and sleep in with peace and pride.

T.R. Reid

From T.R. Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer

A dozen years ago, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition asked me if I'd be willing to talk on the phone one morning with Bob Edwards. I had written a story for the Washington Post about some surprising things that archeologists dug up at the site of the ancient Japanese capital of Heian, the charming town that is now called Kyoto. Bob's vast array of interests evidently including goings-on in the capital of Japan in 1000 A.D., so he wanted to talk about this. I had been a fan of Bob Edwards and his program for years, and NPR offered a fabulous honorarium — something in the high two figures. I figured, why not?

The phone rang. With minimal ado, Bob and I got talking about the lifestyle of ancient Heian. I mentioned that the palace women used to blacken their teeth, and that the old chronicles tell us a seductive black-toothed smile would drive the men of Heian wild with passion. Without missing a beat, Bob replied: "Always does it for me."

To me, it seemed an enjoyable telephone conversation. To the NPR brass, I learned subsequently, this was actually a program segment, known to the producers as a "two-way." Bob Edwards was the airwaves' greatest master of the "two-way," because his agreeable style and his lovely wry wit made it easy for almost anybody to carry on a conversation with him about almost anything. I kept on talking to him, from all over the world, about all manner of topics, for the next 12 years.

Much later — this was before you could stream Morning Edition on the 'net — I received a tape of that day's show. I heard Bob carry the program smoothly and professionally from the latest Bush-Clinton election news to the ailing stock market to some medical break-through to an NBA playoffs update, and finally on to ancient Japan. Bob handled every item on this richly varied menu in his calm, understated way, and managed to turn all those disparate fragments of news into a coordinated picture of the state of the world that morning.

So it is no wonder to me that Bob Edwards and Morning Edition became the most important news source in the United States each morning. No wonder he had a larger audience than all the other morning radio shows, and a bigger audience than all the TV morning shows combined. No wonder tens of millions of Americans literally set their clocks to Bob's morning greetings. And no wonder so many of us are going to miss him deeply as Morning Edition moves on.

Baxter Black

From Baxter Black
Commentator, Morning Edition

A 20-minute panoramic docudrama spanning the life and highlighting the accomplishments of America's most revered media personality and shoe model since Henry Fonda starred in The Grapes of Wrath.

It follows his rise from humble beginnings, his triumph over handicaps and his imprint on the early morning habits of his howling pack of self-proclaimed "Bobbies" who make up his loyal fan base.

Born in a log cabin, Bob served as a joke writer for presidents Lincoln, Wilson and Coolidge. He served honorably in the army as Gen. Westmoreland's personal trainer. Later he was appointed ambassador to Labrador, served as a spelling consultant at the Dan Quayle/Lloyd Bentsen debate, and as special prosecutor at the Lisa Marie Presley/Michael Jackson merger.

The cast of this thrilling epic includes "the one previously known as Prince" in the starring role as Bob. His three sidekicks Walter Cronkite, Regis Philbin and Sandra Day O'Connor are played respectively by Donald Rumsfeld, Whoopi Goldberg and Milton Berle.

The movie, originally titled Into Thin Air, and later, The Perfect Storm, has been compared to Gone With The Wind. It climaxes with the carving of Bob's face on Mt. Rushmore between Tip O'Neill and Ted Turner, the erection of his statue in the rotunda astride his faithful horse Sonny, sword upright, riding in to the Final Four to rescue Louisville. And his inclusion on Consumer Guide's best-dressed list.

The touching epilogue shows Bob wearing a burka and a hardhat on location with Sylvia Poggioli (somewhere dangerous), recording a public radio solicitation spot for Pledge Drive Week.

Critics at the Primate Center tried for two days to give it a thumbs-up, but being unprehensibile, they were unable. Suffice to say, though, we all agree Bob is still the Top Banana.

John Feinstein

From John Feinstein
Commentator, Morning Edition

Wherever I travel I'm asked one question repeatedly: "What's Bob Edwards really like?" I guess my best answer would be this: He's like the Bob Edwards you hear on the radio: smart, funny, prepared and with a big heart that he often hides from adults but can't hide from kids. Just ask my 10-year-old son who frequently spends longer on the phone with him than I do.

He's a friend I've been lucky to have and will continue to have.