February 15, 2007

Leah Yoon, NPR
Joan Kjaer, Iowa Public Radio

NPR News and Iowa Public Radio to Produce Live National Presidential Candidate Debates, January 9-10; Debates to be Exclusive to Radio and Internet

Washington, D.C. and Des Moines, IA; February 15, 2007 – NPR News and Iowa Public Radio are partnering to produce two live national presidential debates in advance of the 2008 Iowa Caucus.

The Democratic and Republican debates will feature the leading contenders in each race and take place on January 9 and 10 in Des Moines; the Caucus is January 14. The national debates will be exclusive to NPR Member stations for radio-only broadcast, and available through NPR.org and the stations’ websites.

These events mark the second time NPR News is collaborating with the Iowa public radio station community to host presidential debates. In 2004, NPR, the WOI Radio Group and other individual NPR Member stations in the state joined to produce a two-hour Democratic radio debate with the six leading candidates. Since that broadcast, the stations at Iowa’s three major universities merged to form Iowa Public Radio: they are WSUI, University of Iowa in Iowa City; WOI-AM/FM, Iowa State University, and KUNI, University of Northern Iowa.

“The format and qualities of public radio are well-suited to a presidential candidates’ debate, offering listeners substantive, thoughtful and intimate conversation,” said Ken Stern, Chief Executive Officer, NPR. “Since the 2004 elections, the public has increasingly turned in record numbers to NPR News and NPR Member stations for objective, information-rich journalism. These upcoming debates, in partnership with our colleagues in Iowa, are part of a comprehensive, cross-platform, multi-year commitment to election coverage we have made to serve that demand.”

Noted Cindy Browne, Executive Director, Iowa Public Radio, "Iowans are proud of their first-in-the-nation caucuses because they represent a kind of citizen dialogue about the issues that's difficult to find elsewhere. The civil approach of NPR News reflects the nature of the Iowa caucuses and we are delighted to be involved with them in these important events.”

Iowa Public Radio was formed in 2005 to align the stations of the WOI Radio Group in Ames, KUNI/KHKE in Cedar Falls-Waterloo and KSUI/WSUI in Iowa City in greater service to the people of Iowa. The stations offer local and national news and three statewide talk programs as well as full-time music formats to the community they serve, reaching more than 220,000 people. NPR News’ commitment to election coverage has unified national and local journalism and crosses all media platforms. On mid-term election night November 7, NPR News offered nine consecutive hours of live coverage, with two anchor teams and 30 reporters on location around the country. NPR.org provided a roadmap to all major races and issues, with interactive links to local Member stations’ coverage. Following the election, NPR News produced a weeklong series on bipartisanship and the art of compromise, with 27 segments airing across seven programs in the NPR schedule. NPR News also offered a newsmaking exclusive interview with President Bush on January 29. NPR programs reach 26 million listeners weekly.