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NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, One Of The Network’s “Founding Mothers,” Announces Retirement

Linda Wertheimer, one of the “founding mothers” of National Public Radio, said today that she is retiring.

“I have had a great ride over more than fifty years – and now that ride is over,” Wertheimer wrote in a memo to staffers, in which she recalled being one of the first hires on the news side at the time of the network’s debut in 1971, when “the only part of the company that was fully staffed was top management and engineering.”

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Wertheimer, Susan Stamberg, Nina Totenberg, and Cokie Roberts were dubbed the “founding mothers” of the network, becoming famous voices at a time when jobs for women at media outlets were scarce. “There were also more women doing that kind of work from the beginning than there were at most broadcast operations,” Wertheimer wrote in her note.

Wertheimer was the first director of All Things Considered at its debut on May 3, 1971. She became a host of the show in 1989, as it became a fixture in afternoon drive-time radio. She became senior national correspondent in 2002. In 1976, Wertheimer also was the first woman to anchor a presidential nomination convention and election night. According to NPR, she has anchored 10 conventions and 12 election nights.

She wrote in her note, “Along the way I spent many years traveling and listening to voters. I can say without a trace of modesty that after all those conversations I always knew who was going to win the election.”

She wrote, “We all owe a great deal to the man who first heard the sound of NPR in his head and then translated those echoes into programming. Bill Siemering is the person I think of as the creator of NPR and I also think of our first editor, Cleve Matthews, who came to us from the New York Times and established the journalistic standards and values that have governed our organization since the beginning.”

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