NPR Producer Brought Vivid Sounds To Our Radios

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NPR producer Carolyn Jensen Chadwick died of cancer on Sunday. She was responsible for the series Radio Expeditions, a collaboration with National Geographic Magazine. Carolyn worked behind the scenes painting pictures with sounds that made us stop whatever we were doing, move closer to the radio and listen.


Now we remember a woman who, for 40 years, brought the vivid sounds of the world to our radios.

(Soundbite of humpback whales)

WERTHEIMER: Those are humpback whales off the coast of Maui, recorded for the NPR/National Geographic series, "Radio Expeditions."


Our colleague Carolyn Jensen Chadwick produced that series, and many more. Carolyn Jensen Chadwick has died of cancer at the age of 65.

Over the years, you did not hear her voice on the air. She found her voice in a different way, in the way that she worked with sounds; sounds that made us stop what we were doing, move closer to the radio and listen.

(Soundbite of temple bells)

WERTHEIMER: For a series on heaven, Carolyn and husband, longtime NPR correspondent Alex Chadwick, took us to this temple in India where Hindu pilgrims chanted their prayers.

(Soundbite of a crowd chanting)

INSKEEP: She also traveled to the Central African Republic to eavesdrop on elephants.

(Soundbite of an elephant trumpeting)

WERTHEIMER: And she brought us uncomfortably close to a swarm of, so-called, killer bees.

Unidentified Man: Here they come.

(Soundbite of buzzing)

Unidentified Man: Bees are boiling out. The bottom part of the hive is black with them now. I've got about 30 bees trying to sting my veil. Ugh, smell the banana. There's venom spraying into my face from the bees - this is really bad.

INSKEEP: Carolyn Jenson Chadwick helped to create a signature NPR sound. She was NPR's first full-time employee, hired in 1970, to set up a research library. She went on to become a producer, a connoisseur of great audio, and a master story teller. She taught many of us that art, as well.

WERTHEIMER: Most recently, she worked with artist Maya Lin on a project about endangered wildlife and habitats. It's called "What Is Missing?"

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