Robert Smith

Robert Smith is NPR's New York Correspondent. Before moving into his current position, Smith was NPR's education reporter and covered public schools and universities on the West Coast. He reported on a variety of issues facing the education system, including the challenges of over-crowding, tight budgets, teacher retention, and new technology.

Smith's reports have been heard on NPR since 1994, first as a freelance reporter based in the Northwest, then during a short stint for NPR in Los Angeles. Specializing in the offbeat, Smith has taken his microphone into some strange worlds. He traveled into the backcountry with Gearheads to talk about their obsession with camping technology; he snuck into a all-night rave in the California desert; he has dressed up as Santa Claus for an undercover look at the wild night of Santarchy; and he has trained for the oft-mocked Olympic sport of curling. He is particularly fascinated by clowns and turkeys.

Born in London, Ontario, Canada, Smith emigrated to the United States with his family. He grew up in the ski-resort town of Park City, Utah, where he started in radio by hosting a music show while in high school. Smith graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1989, and began reporting for community radio station KBOO. He followed with reporting jobs at KUER in Salt Lake City and KUOW in Seattle, where he was also news director.

Smith now lives in New York with his wife, Robbyn. When he's not reporting, Smith enjoys barbecuing and model rocketry.



Thu August 11, 2011
Planet Money

The Dollar Is Still Central To The Global Economy. That May Not Last.

Everybody wants some.
Phil Dokas Flickr

The U.S. economy is spooking investors. But every day, all around the world, foreign businesses are still eager to use U.S. dollars — even when their business has nothing to do with the U.S.

When South Koreans buy Chilean wine, they convert their Korean won to U.S. dollars, and send those dollars to the winery in Chile. The winery then converts the dollars into Chilean pesos. This kind of thing is routine in global trade, according to Barry Eichengreen, an economist at U.C. Berkeley.

Why not just go from won to pesos?

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Thu August 11, 2011
Planet Money

Drug Dealing, Counterfeiting, Smuggling: How North Korea Makes Money

An idle North Korean factory, seen from the Chinese border.
AFP Getty Images

North Korea used to be an industrial powerhouse. Not anymore. Today, the country can't feed its own people. Its cities go dark every night for lack of electricity.

Yet helplessness wasn't the original plan. The original plan for the country's economy had a name. It was called "juche," or self-reliance. The idea was that all North Korean problems should be solved by North Koreans.

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Mon August 8, 2011
Planet Money

How The U.S. Gave S&P Its Power

In the beginning, the rating agencies were all about trains.
William England Getty Images

Who gave S&P the power to kick sand in the face of the U.S. government?

Oh, right. It was the U.S. government.

"There's some ironies, shall we say, in all of this," says Lawrence J. White, a professor at NYU's Stern School of Buisness.

The story goes back to the rise of the railroads in the 19th century.

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Tue July 5, 2011
The Candidates' Guide To Campaigning

In New Hampshire, Every Handshake Counts

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands while marching in the Fourth of July parade in Amherst, N.H.
Darren McCollester Getty Images

It's officially summer vacation time. But if you're a candidate running for president, you'll spend your summer shaking hands in early voting states. Here, a look at the required stops and must-see attractions in the first primary state, New Hampshire.

Up and at 'em, candidates — the campaign day in New Hampshire starts early. Those pancake breakfasts don't eat themselves.

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Mon July 4, 2011
NPR Story

GOP Candidates Stump On The Fourth Of July

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 9:51 am



From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

On this Independence Day, most of the nation gets to take the day off work, but not the Republican presidential candidates. Today, they were hard at work, marching in parades, shaking hands at barbeques and showing off the red, white and blue.

They stuck mostly to the states with the earliest voting contests - Iowa and New Hampshire - as NPR's Robert Smith reports.

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