NPR executive vice president Ken Stern called the change part of a "natural evolution" that "had to do with the changing needs of our listeners." It was "a programming decision about the right sound," said Stern...(Didja get that? That's the closest NPR will ever come to saying "We wanted something hipper, fresher, edgier...")
But the problem is that Edwards is neither unhip nor unfresh. Sure, he's been with Morning Edition since 1979 (he was only supposed to fill in for 30 days while the network tried retooling the show after a disastrous debut) but he's become the voice of the show. I'd say he's become the show, but the show's not ego-driven. He was just the voice.
The voice that you could hear coming from inside the warm car at 6:30 on an October morning as you scraped the layer of first frost off the car windows, your feet crunching on the frozen ground.
The voice that quietly underscored conversations with your stepfather every Friday morning as you drove 15 miles to school, waiting for the coffee in the travel mug to cool so you could actually sip it.
The voice you listened for when you tried finding NPR in an unfamiliar part of the country, twiddling around the bottom of the band ... fundie station ... farm report ... college station ... Bob Edwards. There he is, just where we left him. Always familiar, always a comforting radio presence.
And now he'll be gone, by an inexplicable decision made by management which apparently seeks to fix what ain't broke -- I mean, really. Replace a listener favorite? Replace the host of the number one morning show in America? With what? I mean, I'm not saying there won't be a long period of adjustment once a new host is named, but frankly, I don't know anybody who could capably step up and do such a good job as host for as long as Edwards did.
But then again, what do I care, I never wake up before 10 AM these days anyway.