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NPR Turns 50 And Susan Stamberg Recalls A First


ALL THINGS CONSIDERED turns 50 this week. And to help mark that milestone, NPR founding listener Susan Stamberg recalls an interview she did in 1986.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: A beloved ALL THINGS CONSIDERED commentator, Kim Williams of Missoula, Mont. - although she said it much better.


KIM WILLIAMS: This is Kim Williams in Missoula, Mont.

STAMBERG: She was a naturalist. She gave recipes for dandelion wine. She gave advice on when you ought to get married, what you ought to wear. Audiences adored everything she said. And at the age of 62, she called to tell us she had terminal ovarian cancer, that her days were numbered.


STAMBERG: Kim, you - something you wrote about a friend who was dying and this very strong sense you have that death is merely a change and that at some point, you say hello to a whole lot of people who you've lost in this life.

WILLIAMS: Yes, and it is amazing how many letters I've already had before I put out that call - you know, more letters - how many I have received from people who say they are going to climb a mountain or walk along a river or on a city street, and they will send their thoughts and energies and they think that they will meet mine.

STAMBERG: I believe that.

WILLIAMS: I do, too.

STAMBERG: Kim, thank you very much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, sweetie.

STAMBERG: Goodbye.


STAMBERG: Producer Neenah Ellis, who edited that tape, left in the sound of the phone hanging up. I had to close the program and read the closing credits. I began, but the sound of that click got to me. It was so final. So for the first time and maybe the only time in my radio life, I began crying on the air. But I kept on reading because I had to. We had to get off. When the program was rebroadcast for the Midwest and then the West rolled over the country, the click and the credits were cut out. But I hear them still every time I think about Kim's life and her much too early death.

CHANG: That is NPR's Susan Stamberg.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIMO ANDRES AND SUFJAN STEVENS' "V") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.
Alejandra Marquez Janse
Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Art Silverman has been with NPR since 1978. He came to NPR after working for six years at a daily newspaper in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.