Michel Martin, NPR's longtime weekend voice, will co-host 'Morning Edition'
NPR's Michel Martin, the long-time weekend host of All Things Considered and co-host of the Consider This podcast, is moving to weekday mornings to become a host of Morning Edition.
Martin, who joined NPR in 2006 and soon launched the acclaimed talk show Tell Me More, is known for conducting thoughtful and heartfelt interviews.
"We all have things that we think we're particularly good at and interested in," Martin said in an interview. "I'm just looking forward to adding my secret sauce."
The move gives Martin a bigger platform. Morning Edition is NPR's most popular broadcast program, reaching 11.4 million listeners each week. The show's executive producer, Erika Aguilar, said Martin, who spent years covering politics and the White House for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and ABC News before coming to NPR, will bring a sharp eye to the morning show.
"Michel brings a bit of fun, too," said Aguilar. "Joy, and conversations that are hard to have sometimes, about race and identity and gender and age."
Martin's last day hosting All Things Considered is this Sunday. Her first day on Morning Edition with co-hosts Steve Inskeep, A Martínez and Leila Fadel is March 27. She replaces Rachel Martin (no relation), who left the weekday show last month to pursue a project with the network on religion, spirituality and meaning.
'You get into journalism because you want to go'
Martin said a change in her personal life–her twins are now in college–makes this the right time to take on a new professional challenge. Having been a solo host since coming to NPR, she's looking forward to sharing the studio with Inskeep, Martínez and Fadel – and having more time to travel and report stories.
"You get into journalism because you want to go," Martin said. "And so this is another opportunity for me to go."
Martin said she's accomplished most of what she set out to do at All Things Considered. One of her goals was to take the show on the road – and she did.
They went to Romania, which borders Ukraine and has seen many refugees since Russia's invasion last year. Martin took the show to Puerto Rico in June 2018 to speak about rebuilding efforts after a hurricane devastated the island a year prior. And most recently, they broadcast from Memphis, where Martin reported on Tyre Nichols' funeral and spoke with churchgoers at Sunday service.
'She can talk to anyone'
I met Martin for the first time during our Zoom interview for this story. The first thing she did after signing on was to ask me questions: Where did I go to school? Where was home? What were my interests?
And NPR executives say asking questions is what she's known for.
"Michel is an extraordinary interviewer with breadth and depth and tremendous empathy," said Edith Chapin, NPR's interim senior vice president for news. "Even when she does a hard-hitting interview, you never feel that she was unfair or unreasonable."
In a phone interview, Eric Marrapodi, who oversees NPR's broadcast shows, lauded Martin's range as an interviewer and her ability to chat on-the-record with former presidents and bakers alike.
"She can talk to anyone," he said.
Marrapodi cited Martin's interview with the sister of a college student who had been killed in a terrorist attack on a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland more than three decades ago, as a chief example of her empathy.
"I do want to start by saying I am so sorry for your loss," Martin began the conversation.
Staying to diversify NPR's programming after developing "scar tissue"
Martin said it's no secret she was unhappy when NPR canceled Tell Me More in 2014. The show focused on issues that mattered particularly to people of color and brought their voices to the air. But it struggled to grow its audience and became a target when the network faced budget cuts.
At the time, Martin said she had "scar tissue" but would stay with NPR to hold it to its promise to appeal to a broader audience that reflects the country's diversity.
A year later, when she became the weekend host of All Things Considered, Martin committed to bringing parts of the midday talk show to her new platform.
"I tried to kind of reconstitute the barbershop and the roundtables," Martin said. But as time went on, she said she realized that the weekend afternoon slot could serve a different purpose.
"People listen differently on the weekends. It's still news, but they listen differently. So how can we accommodate that?" said Martin.
Martin has acquired many professional awards in her long career, including a mentorship award within NPR. She said that one means a lot to her.
"I have always prided myself on helping people get where they want to get," Martin said.
And she's looking forward to a new host taking her role on All Things Considered.
"It's a great show for somebody else to put their stamp on right now," she said.
NPR has not announced a replacement. Chapin said that will happen "in the weeks ahead."
The news comes as NPR is, again, experiencing financial constraints. Last month, CEO John Lansing announced that the nonprofit would lay off roughly 100 employees, or about 10% of the staff, due to a projected $30 million revenue shortfall.
Martin said she will still celebrate with her team before her departure, which she said is bittersweet.
"I wish they could throw me a party, but they can't," she said, laughing. "I'll be bringing my own snacks. And that's okay."
Disclosure: This story was reported and written by NPR Business Desk Intern Mary Yang and edited by NPR Acting Chief Business Editor Emily Kopp. Under NPR's protocol for reporting on itself, no corporate official or news executive reviewed this story before it was published.
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