Ted Robbins

A seasoned broadcast journalist, Ted Robbins covers the Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, West Texas, northern Mexico, and Utah. His seasoning, then, includes plenty of chile pepper. It also includes five years as a regular contributor to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 15 years at the PBS affiliate in Tucson, work as a field producer for CBS News, stints at NBC affiliates in Tucson and Salt Lake City, as well as radio reporting in Salt Lake and print reporting for USA Today. He joined NPR in October 2004 and is based in Tucson.

The Southwest is growing fast and Robbins' beat includes the Mexican border, so his reporting focuses on immigration, water, development, land-use, natural resources, and the environment. From Tombstone to Santa Fe, Phoenix to Las Vegas, Moab to Indian Country, there's no shortage of people, politics, and places worth covering. Throughout it all, Robbins' reporting is driven by his curiosity to find, understand, and communicate all sides of each story through accurate, clear, and engaging coverage.

In addition to his domestic work, Robbins has done international reporting in Mexico, El Salvador, Nepal, and Sudan.

Robbins' reporting has won numerous awards, including Emmys for a story on sex education in schools, and a series on women at work. He won a CINE Golden Eagle for a 1995 documentary on Mexican agriculture called "Tomatoes for the North."

He says he is delighted to be covering stories for his favorite news source for years before he worked here. Robbins discovered NPR in Los Angeles, where he grew up, while spending hours driving (or standing-still) on freeways.

Robbins earned his B.A. in psychology and his master's in journalism, both from the University of California at Berkeley. He also taught journalism at the University of Arizona for 10 years.

When he's not working, Robbins enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, traveling, movies, theatre, cooking (back to seasoning), reading, and spending time with his young daughter.

 

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Millions of gallons of water used to flow every day from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Now, the Colorado River ends at Morelos Dam on the U.S.-Mexico border. Below it, one of North America's largest wetlands is dry.

Karl Flessa, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, began researching the damage two decades ago. Then he started asking how much water it would take to bring back some of the habitats.

Border Patrol checkpoints aren't always near the border. Some aren't even on roads that go to the border. Take Arivaca Road; it's an East-West route 25 miles north of the Mexican border in Southern Arizona.

A Border Patrol checkpoint has been operating there around the clock for seven years. Some residents of the town of Arivaca say agents at the checkpoint go well beyond their legal authority; searching vehicles and questioning citizens without cause. So they've begun their own monitoring — to inspect the process.

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Let's say you're skiing in the backcountry, looking for some powder — but instead, you trigger an avalanche.

If you have an avalanche air bag pack strapped to your back, you just yank the cord. That deploys the air bag, which keeps you close to the surface and easier to dig out, says Andy Wenberg with Backcountry Access, one of several companies making the devices. When deployed, his company's version of the air bag comes out like wings.

"The whole idea when you deploy that thing in an avalanche is you're avoiding burial death," he says.

As the U.S. government has militarized the California and Arizona segment of the Southwest border over the last two decades, illegal crossers have moved to another area. South Texas has become the new border hot spot.

The Rio Grande Valley is also the closest route to Central America. Two-thirds of those caught crossing are from that troubled region.

The Border Patrol and local authorities are straining to keep up.

Fleeing Poverty And Murder

A years-in-the-making, top-secret engineering and design project for a superaerodynamic suit to be worn by U.S. speedskaters at next month's Winter Olympics was finally unveiled Thursday.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin and sporting goods company Under Armour released photos of the suit they're calling "Mach 39." It has been kept so tightly under wraps that the sport's governing body wouldn't even allow it to be worn at the Olympic trials in Salt Lake City.

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