Who Is That Doggy In The Window? : NPR Extra The History of NPR's Goodest Boy, Nipper
NPR logo Who Is That Doggy In The Window?

Who Is That Doggy In The Window?

Nipper on 2nd floor of NPR HQ in D.C. Jennifer Kerr/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Jennifer Kerr/NPR

Nipper on 2nd floor of NPR HQ in D.C.

Jennifer Kerr/NPR

The History of NPR's Goodest Boy, Nipper

Sitting behind a glass pane on the second floor of NPR headquarters is a statue of a black and white dog wearing a little blue shirt and a collar. This is Nipper, NPR's unofficial mascot, who has become part of NPR's long history. Current and former employees affectionately refer to themselves as "Nippers" and you can even buy stuffed Nipper dogs from the NPR store. How did Nipper become part of NPR's history, though?

Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Jaclyn Nash/Jaclyn Nash, National Museum of hide caption

toggle caption
Jaclyn Nash/Jaclyn Nash, National Museum of

Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Jaclyn Nash/Jaclyn Nash, National Museum of

Nipper may be most recognizable as the RCA Victor trademark, which was adapted from a painting by Frances Barraud called "His Master's Voice." The painting depicts a little black and white dog listening to a phonograph. Barraud was inspired by how Nipper curiously looked at the phonograph as it played. The image has also inspired many iterations of Nipper, including a 14-foot stained-glass window, which is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

It might be hard to imagine why a radio company would adopt a dog as its mascot, but an employee newsletter from January 1999 explains, "In the early days of National Public Radio, some staff members referred to Nipper as 'our' mascot because of his great radio provenance and the sound 'NiPpeR.'"

Anne Marie Marans was one of those employees. During her time at NPR as an Assistant Director of Arts and Performance Programming, she rescued a Nipper statue that was sold after the American City Diner in Bethesda, Maryland closed. Nipper made his home in the lobby of NPR's first headquarters at 635 Massachusetts Ave and stayed there until NPR moved in 2013.

Luckily, someone remembered to bring Nipper to the new headquarters on North Capitol Street. He found a new home guarding all of NPR's important information in the Data Center. To keep him happy, Mike Starling, former VP of NPR Labs, gifted Nipper with a bowl of electronic treats - or "sound bites." A few years later, though, Nipper had a tragic accident involving a vacuum (because what dog actually likes vacuums), and his head fell off and shattered.

The decision was made that a new Nipper needed to be rescued, this time from eBay. The new Nipper also made his home in the Data Center and to welcome him to NPR a shirt was tailored just to fit him. Nipper was also outfitted with eyebrows made from gaffer tape from an anonymous source. Today, Nipper can still be seen being a good boy as he guards NPR's data and charms all of our visitors.

To learn more about NPR's history, please visit NPR Archives on Twitter @nprchives.

Jennifer Kerr, Maddie Mortell /NPR YouTube

NPR RAD researcher Julie Rogers and Senior Director of Engineering Shawn Fox contributed to this story.