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Susan Stamberg “Breaks the Sound Barrier”

June 19, 1972
by Ali Rosenblatt

On June 19, 1972 New York City native Susan Stamberg co-hosted National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered for the first time. The show brought on Stamberg as a co-host one year after its launch in 1971, making her one of the original hosts of this now well-known show. She “broke the sound barrier” with this first broadcast in 1972, becoming the first full-time female anchor of a nightly national news program in the United States.

Stamberg became one of the most popular broadcasters in public radio, well-known for her conversational style, called “fresh,” and “friendly,” and “down-to-earth,” by critics. Countless listeners have heard her bring ground-breaking news to the nation, such as President Nixon’s resignation, the end of the Vietnam War, and the Iran Contra scandal, and her thousands of interviews, including conversations with prominent figures like Laura Bush, Billy Crystal, Rosa Parks, and Luciano Pavarotti. Many listeners have also heard about her mother-in-law’s now famous cranberry relish recipe, which Stamberg has shared on the radio every Thanksgiving since 1972.

Considered an NPR “founding mother,” Stamberg had the opportunity for other “firsts” on the radio with NPR. In 1979, Stamberg moderated the first live call-in with a U.S. President, President Jimmy Carter, in a segment called “Ask the President” on NPR. She also hosted the first show featuring a live broadcast of a debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Stamberg has been integral to NPR since she joined the fledgling radio station after graduating from Barnard College and after serving as a producer and program director for WAMU-FM in Washington D.C. Her first broadcasting job was on All Things Considered, where she worked for another 14 years. She then went on to host Weekend Edition Sunday. Since 2014, she has served as a special correspondent on cultural issues for NPR’s Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday.

Her work has been widely recognized, winning every major award in broadcasting (NPR). She received the honor of the Edward R. Murrow Award, was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1994 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1996. She has also hosted a number of series on PBS; moderated three Fred Rogers television specials; served as a commentator, guest, and co-host; appeared as a narrator in performances; and authored two books, Every Night at Five: Susan Stamberg’s All Things Considered Book and Talk: NPR’s Susan Stamberg Considers All Things.

This entry was created for This Week in History as part of a course on the history of American Jewish women taught by Karla Goldman at the University of Michigan, Winter 2019.

Sources:Susan Stamberg;” “Susan Stamberg: NPR;” “Breaking the Sound Barrier;” “Mrs. Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish Goes To Washington;” “Call-In Show with Jimmy Carter.”

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Susan Stamberg. Photo by Anthony Nagelmann; courtesy of National Public Radio.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Susan Stamberg “Breaks the Sound Barrier”." (Viewed on June 18, 2019) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/jun/19/1972/susan-stamberg-breaks-sound-barrier>.

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