Signing On: New Host Takes Weekend Microphone

Jacki Lyden signs off after interim-hosting All Things Considered for several months to welcome Arun Rath as the new host, broadcasting both weekend days from NPR's studios in Culver City, Calif.

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Somewhere down in a vault in the NPR treasure trove of archived special moments, there's a moldering reel of the first time I hosted this program, 1986. I've pinch-hit on almost all of NPR shows over the years, but none with the special attachment of this one. For nearly four decades, D.C. has been the show's home. Well, WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED has moved, and we're now broadcasting from NPR West in Culver City, California.

And as you may have heard, starting next weekend, the show will have a new host, a new perspective and a transformation. So allow me to introduce Arun Rath. Arun, welcome. It's so great to have you here.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Thank you, Jacki. It's good to be here.

LYDEN: Now, some people may not know this, Arun, but you actually come to NPR from NPR.

RATH: Yeah.

LYDEN: But you were a little behind the scenes, as our editors and producers are. You were an intern too, giving hope to legions of intern. You were director at TALK OF THE NATION. Where'd you go from there?

RATH: Well, in 2000, I went to New York to oversee the relaunch of ON THE MEDIA. That was with Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield. And then in the mid-aughts, or whatever we call that decade, I moved over to TV for several years to PBS "Frontline."

LYDEN: Let's pull back the curtain a little bit and let people know about the decision to move the show west and what it means.

RATH: Every NPR News program is produced out of Washington, D.C. Not that this is uncommon. You know, most news programs either come out of New York or out of Washington. And I love Los Angeles. I love the crazy diversity of this place, every sort of cuisine, every kind of language, every sort of music you could want. I think it's going to allow for a perspective that we're not getting otherwise.

Not just Los Angeles, not just Southern California that we're talking about. It's really all of the American west, dealing with some really important major issues around immigration, resources, interesting demographic issues that I think we're really well poised from this position to cover and report on.

LYDEN: You know, you and the staff have really been busy creating your concept of the debut weekend. Can you give us a little preview?

RATH: We're working on some really interesting cover stories. One of them is looking into foster care in America. And this is again where L.A., given all of its diversity, is a very revealing microcosm of America. I spent some time with Cris Beam, who's a terrific writer, who wrote a book about foster care in America, was actually a teacher here in Los Angeles. And here, she's talking about what is a typical experience for these kids and what they go through when they go through this foster care process.

CRIS BEAM: A van will come to them in the middle of the night. They'll get pulled from their home. The kid is terrified, and they'll be put with a stranger. I mean, imagine being 5 years old and suddenly being surrounded by strangers. You're in a strange bed, you're with strange sounds. They'll be terrified. They don't understand what's happening.

RATH: So they act out in these intense ways. The foster parent just thinks, my gosh, there's something wrong with this kid, and they get sent back. And they get put into the system, and the cycle repeats itself.

LYDEN: That's a riveting and really important story. You also mentioned music, and I know you've really got a special love for that. What are you doing?

RATH: The Sunset Strip, which is not even a mile of road that we're talking about, in West Hollywood, was just an amazingly important breeding ground for rock and roll through several different periods, I spent some time with August Brown, who's a writer with the L.A. Times. And we actually walked along the strip.

AUGUST BROWN: Ever since the '60s, this has probably been the most famous mile of music in America, arguably, you know, what Tin Pan Alley was for kind of pre-rock and roll, you know, the very name conjures The Doors doing their spooky cabaret music up through, you know, '80s, decadent hair metal and all the way up until the kind of early '90s when grunge sort of killed off that era and kind of made L.A. seem a little cheesy.

LYDEN: Decadent hair metal. I really want to hear what that's all about.

RATH: Yeah. Decadent hair metal as opposed to the restrained classical hair metal.

(LAUGHTER)

LYDEN: You know, it is all going to be so exciting to have you here, to have a different slant on the show. I just want to thank everyone for the fantastic time I've had here and wish you the best of luck. And I can't wait to listen.

RATH: Yeah, it is a fantastic team. I'm so excited, Jacki. Thank you.

LYDEN: Thank you. That's Arun Rath, our new weekend host now coming to you from NPR West. And for Sunday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Check out our weekly podcast. Search for WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on iTunes or on the NPR smartphone app. Click on Programs and scroll down. Arun will be here next weekend. I want to say good-bye and thanks for listening. Have a great week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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