Remembering Cokie Roberts : NPR Public Editor The NPR founding mother and pioneering journalist died at 75.
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Remembering Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts appears at the National Press Foundation's 26th annual awards dinner on February 10, 2009 in Washington, DC. Brendan Hoffman/Stringer/Getty Images hide caption

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Brendan Hoffman/Stringer/Getty Images

Cokie Roberts appears at the National Press Foundation's 26th annual awards dinner on February 10, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Brendan Hoffman/Stringer/Getty Images

Listeners have reacted with sadness to the news that Cokie Roberts, an NPR "founding mother," died this morning of complications from breast cancer.

Remembering Cokie Roberts

Reception in Memory of Cokie Roberts
Friday September 20
6 p.m.-8 p.m.
National Press Club
Ballroom
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

Funeral Mass for Cokie Roberts, Saturday September 21
10 a.m.
Cathedral of Saint Matthew The Apostle
1725 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to further honor the memory of Cokie may do so by making a contribution to the Children's Inn at NIH:

The Children's Inn at NIH
7 West Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814
301-496-5672

As one listener wrote to our office, "she had a plumb, level and straight presence that promised that we would get through this hail and lightning storm."

I mostly knew Roberts through my work covering the radio and television world as a newspaper reporter, before I joined NPR (where my role occasionally called upon me to address listener questions about her commentary). Before I met her in real life, however, I knew her as a pioneering woman, one of several in visible roles at NPR. In retrospect, it's because of women like her that I never really doubted when I was an aspiring journalist that there would be a place for me in what was then a male-dominated profession.

As Mara Liaisson told Here & Now today, there was a not-so-pretty reason so many women ended up at NPR in the early days: NPR "paid so poorly back then, and a lot of times when male reporters got to a certain age or got married, had kids, they would leave for a higher-paying job at a television network." (NPR pays competitive salaries today.)

But Roberts, and others — including Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg and others — did the work and succeeded, and brought along other women in their wake. Among the many tributes to Roberts pouring forth today, I've noted a thread of just how many women feel they owe their careers in some way to Roberts. Here are just a few reactions from women in the NPR newsroom:

Official tributes from NPR include remembrances from Nina Totenberg and Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition.