Neal Conan: Decision to end Talk of the Nation ‘was not mine’

Neal Conan, the host of “Talk of the Nation,” didn’t use the “R word” when talking about the end of his 11-year stint on the call-in radio show.

“While I will definitely be changing my life after I leave NPR, I would not describe the next phase as ‘retirement,’” he wrote in an email to Poynter. “I will want to catch up on eleven years’ sleep, but expect to remain engaged in public life as a writer, speaker and, who knows, maybe on the radio.”

Conan did not go into detail about NPR’s decision to end production of “Talk of the Nation” and encourage member stations to pick up WBUR’s “Here & Now” instead. He did note, however, “the decision to cease production on TOTN was not mine.”

Kinsey Wilson, executive vice president and chief content officer for NPR (and Poynter trustee) said Friday the change was the result of a desire for more shows with the news magazine format and fewer call-in shows. “There’s a real appetite on the part of listeners, program managers and member stations to bridge the gap in our programming,” he said over the phone.

NPR will begin to co-produce “Here and Now” with WBUR, which is expanding the show from one hour to two, and adding co-host Jeremy Hobson to work with Robin Young.

The show will take over for the 21-year-old “Talk of the Nation” on July 1.

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  • Vince Vuong

    Not since the fictional knife to Caesar’s back have I ever witnessed such betrayal and by NPR of all organizations. Kinsey Killsons (and kicks puppies) needs to not exist. Foul and disgusting behavior. No more NPR contributions.

  • Vince Vuong

    Kinsey Killsons needs to be fired or God needs to intervene. Terrible move. I think my yearly money pot donation will go to APM now. I can’t endorse a group that has no integrity in news programming and so coldly dismisses its audience members as unworthy of air time. I never call in and I care not to but I learn way more from people’s stories than from a line of highly produced fact. Foul, disgusting, and unworthy of the public radio tradition. Kinsey, go to hell.

  • David Rubin

    There are many good alternatives to PBS, especially on TV. If the management wishes to disregard the wishes of their audience, we need to end our membership, notify the “sponsors” that we will avoid them, and let our Congressmen know we no longer support the small federal subsidies that remain. However, I’ll hold off my action until the new show appears. If it really is better than the BEST show on NPR, I’ll eat my words above.

  • Angela King

    I hope the Neal Conan moves to Sirius Radio like Bob Edwards did. I still enjoy listening to Mr. Edwards.

  • Jeff Harris

    Neal and TOTN will be missed….. I hope TOTN can find a new home

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Blame it on the ADD affecting the brains of most us us due to the internet and cable news. Not enough of us with the patience and mental pace for a slower, and sometimes comprehensive format such as the call-in show. In comes highly produced, fast paced, polished stories. No more wandering thoughts from those of us across the nation, bringing in differing perspectives.

  • Molly Fanton

    This is sad news. But, why punish your local public radio station by stopping their membership? Change is hard, but sometimes needs to happen.

  • Kellerise

    I could understand a decision on NPR’s part to move the show to a different time slot; people would still call in at different times of the day or evening. But why pull the plug on such a vital and successful show, one that has proven to be one of the most civil forums among today’s polarized media? I will miss both the candid callers and Mr. Conan’s active listening. I wish him the best in the next chapter of his career.

  • TMorgan

    Our local station, WBEZ, replaced TOTN several years ago in the 1 p.m.+ time slot. I couldn’t understand it at the time. So, I happily switched to downloading all of TOTN and listening on my own schedule since then. Now I won’t be able to do even that!

  • Maureen LeFay

    Oh no…TOTN was well done and one of the few NPR shows I looked forward to listening to. I bet the new show will include one person with creaky voice….as nobody seems to think it worth training the voice anymore if you’re going to be speaking on the air….ugh.

  • NateBowman

    Mr. Wilson’s Poynter bio needs to be updated:

    “With Ellen Weiss, NPR’s Senior Vice President for News, he oversees the online news and music staffs.”

    Ms. Weiss resigned in January 2011.

  • Mark Beeler

    I think this is one of the better programs!
    I would buy an Internet show if he would take in that media.
    I can’t see keeping the shows mechelle hosts and end this one.
    I will most likely discontinue my public radio membership if this is the direction they continue to go… I can’t imagine who they polled to determine what “we” the public want to hear.
    Looks like the third screw up since the change in upper management.

    Good luck Neal…. Ill look for you on the web!!!

  • greening

    One of the best parts of TOTN, which I have listened for 20 years, is that the show featured callers who had a direct connection with the subject matter. These were people producers might naver have found, and they were well-screened to keep out phonies and time-wasters. If it wasn’t broken — great carriage by NPR stations, especially compared with its replacement, top-flight guests and lots of callers — isn’t it just ageism? At 57, I am thankful that if new NPR programming starts to exclude me, I will be able to get alternate information through reading. I don’t have to listen, nor do I have to be a member of my local station if NPR management has decided to kick me to the curb along with Neil Conan, Bob Edwards and who knows how many behind-the-scenes people. So much for loyalty…