Host, Up First Sunday
Rachel Martin is a founding host of NPR's award-winning morning news podcast Up First. Martin's interviews take listeners behind the headlines to understand the people at the center of those stories.
She spent six years as a host of Morning Edition, and was previously the host of Weekend Edition Sunday for four years, where she launched the "For the Record" series.
Martin also served as National Security Correspondent for NPR, where she covered both defense and intelligence issues. She traveled regularly to Iraq and Afghanistan with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his successor Leon Panetta, reporting on the U.S. wars and the effectiveness of the Pentagon's counterinsurgency strategy. Martin also reported extensively on the changing demographic of the U.S. military – from the debate over whether to allow women to fight in combat units, to the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Her reporting on how the military is changing also took her to a U.S. Air Force base in New Mexico for a rare look at how the military trains drone pilots.
Martin also worked as a NPR foreign correspondent based in Berlin from 2005-2006. During her time in Europe, she covered the London terrorist attacks, the election of Angela Merkel as Chancellor to Germany, the 2006 World Cup and issues surrounding immigration and shifting cultural identities in Europe.
Her foreign reporting experience extends beyond Europe. Martin has also worked extensively in Afghanistan. She began reporting from there as a freelancer during the summer of 2003, covering the reconstruction effort in the wake of the U.S. invasion. In fall 2004, Martin returned for several months to cover Afghanistan's first democratic presidential election. She has reported widely on human rights issues in Afghanistan, the fledgling political and governance system and the U.S.-NATO fight against the insurgency. She also reported from Iraq, where she covered U.S. military operations and the strategic alliance between Sunni sheiks and the U.S. military in Anbar province. She traveled to Saudi Arabi in 2015 to report on women's rights and in 2022 she reported from Ukraine's border with Belarus in the leadup to the Russian war.
Martin was part of the team that launched NPR's experimental morning news show, The Bryant Park Project, based in New York — a live two-hour daily multimedia program that she co-hosted with Alison Stewart and Mike Pesca.
In 2006-2007, Martin served as NPR's religion correspondent. Her piece on Islam in America was awarded "Best Radio Feature" by the Religion News Writers Association in 2007. As one of NPR's reporters assigned to cover the Virginia Tech massacre that same year, she was on the school's campus within hours of the shooting and on the ground in Blacksburg, Va., covering the investigation and emotional aftermath in the following days. In 2011, her story on racial discrimination in Hollywood won a Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists and her series on the effects of the opioid epidemic on children won a Gracie award in 2019.
Martin started her career at public radio station KQED in San Francisco as a producer and reporter.
She holds an undergraduate degree in political science and an honorary doctorate from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. Martin also holds a Master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two sons.