Thanks To Fans And Critics Alike

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Humorist Brian Unger thanks all the listeners who stuck with him over the years he offered commentary for Day To Day, including those who hated every minute he's been on the air.


Back now with Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand. And now with his final Unger report for this program, here is our humorist, Brian Unger.

BRIAN UNGER: In 2003, NPR undertook a bold experiment. The idea was to take a former correspondent from the Daily Show, and give him a few minutes each week to poke fun at the political and cultural goings on in America, to allow on Mondays a tier-three, basic cable TV clown a few moments to amuse the dedicated, serious, intelligent listeners of public radio on its newest program, Day to Day.

What a disaster that experiment turned out to be. Despite the letters demanding NPR pull me off the air and listener emails with comments like, Brian Unger makes me want to turn my radio off, drive off a cliff, stick needles in my ears; in spite of the guy who wrote, I (bleep) hate the Unger Report, I persevered - mainly because no other contributor wanted to wake up at 4:30 every Monday morning. And so began a six-year odyssey of trying to perform comedy alone in a soundproof room. My dream had finally come true. No story would be off limits. I was given free rein to poke fun at anything, any topic, any person, as long as it didn't insult listeners who donated money to public radio, members of Congress who controlled funding to public radio, the FCC, Republicans, Republican listeners who donated money to public radio, Republican members of Congress who controlled funding to public radio, Republican FCC commissioners and Nina Totenberg.

But I realized quickly that satirizing people, stories and events that had already been satirized all week long by Letterman, Leno, Kimmel, Colbert, Stewart, the entire cast of "Saturday Night Live," Bill Maher, Conan O'Brien, Harry Shearer, Garrison Keillor, Peter Sagal, Frank Rich, Maureen Downey, 9,000 columnists, 2.6 million bloggers and my drinking buddy, Neal - it was going to be a difficult task.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: Yet, I stuck with it mainly for the money. And NPR, and most of all, senior producer Steve Proffitt stuck with me. I will always be grateful to Steve for making me better. It was really fun, wasn't it, Steve?

PROFFITT: Uh, yeah, Brian. It was - it was great.

UNGER: I want to thank NPR for allowing me these few minutes each week, and despite calling me slightly confused and never giving me a raise in six years, they gave me something no one can put a price on - meeting Noah Adams, and seeing Alex Chadwick in biking shorts. To Madeleine Brand and Alex Cohen, who are forced to introduce me each week against their better journalistic instincts, and to the staff of Day to Day, thank you. But most of all, thank you to the listeners of National Public Radio. It has been an honor. And now, it's time for me to drive away from NPR West. And in my rear-view mirror, as the NPR sign fades in the distance, I'll think to myself, thank you, God, for letting me sleep in on Mondays. Most importantly, I hope that listeners who didn't drive off a cliff or stick needles in their ears will follow me to for more. And that was the Unger Report for Day to Day. I'm Brian Unger.

BRAND: Stay with us. NPR's Day to Day continues.

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