May 12, 2011

Audie Cornish to helm NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday

In a long-anticipated news anchor succession at NPR, Audie Cornish will become host of Weekend Edition Sunday after Liane Hansen, who helmed the broadcast for two decades, retires.

"Audie is an outstanding journalist and wonderful storyteller," said Ellen McDonnell, executive director of news programming, in this morning's NPR announcement. "Audiences will connect with her warmth, curiosity and humor. We're thrilled she is taking on this new role."

Cornish, who now covers Capitol Hill and guest-hosts NPR newsmagazines as a substitute, is an experienced news and feature reporter. She covered the campaign trail during the 2008 presidential election and spent three years reporting from the south as NPR’s Nashville-based correspondent. Prior to joining NPR, she reported for Boston’s WBUR.

Hansen announced last May that she plans to retire this summer and move to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her last broadcast is May 29.

"I am honored and excited to follow in Liane Hansen's footsteps," Cornish said. "She has made Weekend Edition essential in the lives of millions of NPR listeners."

Cornish will continue reporting for NPR and appearing on WESUN through the summer, stepping into her full-time hosting role this fall.

Jim Lehrer to depart anchor desk at "PBS NewsHour"

Jim Lehrer, anchor of PBS NewsHour and its former incarnations for 36 years, is stepping away from the weeknight broadcast, the Washington Post is reporting. Lehrer, 76, said he would leave as anchor on June 6 but continue to appear on Fridays to moderate the show’s weekly news analysis segment featuring a panel of journalists. He will also continue to be involved with the program’s producer, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, based in Arlington, Va.

In a statement, Lehrer said the timing was based on "the complete integration of the NewsHour's on-air and online operations" (Current, Jan. 11, 2010) and his "complete confidence in the current NewsHour team, both on-and-off-camera, to continue producing the nightly program and its companion website as a haven for 'MacNeil/Lehrer Journalism': serious, fair-minded daily reporting steeped in the traditions of the broadcast’s co-founders."

“I have been laboring in the glories of daily journalism for 52 years, 36 of them here at the NewsHour and its earlier incarnations," Lehrer said, "and there comes a time to step aside from the daily process, and that time has arrived.”

Now you too can sleep on, or autograph, Carl Kassell's head

This just in, the NPR Store is now offering a Carl Kassell Autograph Pillow and Pen, which it readily admits is an "odd homage" to the longtime NPR newscaster and Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! scorekeeper and answering machine voice. The item's existence immediately prompted a heartfelt apology from Cowering NPR on Twitter. The anonymous Tweeter/s also revealed that the eerie-looking pillow is actually last year's NPR Labs creation.

FCC receives more than 450 comments on upcoming sale of Orlando's WMFE-TV

The pending sale of WMFE-TV in Orlando to Daystar, a Texas-based religious broadcaster, has generated more than 450 comments to the FCC, the Orlando Sentinel reports today (May 12). Here's one: “The contemplation of this sale was never pre-announced to the general public by the current governing organization," writes Lawrence D. Stephey of Winter Park, Fla. "Had the public known, I’m sure a number of extraordinary fund raising campaigns would have been launched to preserve the frequency for educational use.”

Meanwhile, two University of Central Florida students have launched a web campaign to save the station, via a website and Facebook page. One, Anna Eskamani, told the Sentinel, "I’ve lived in Orlando my whole life. We didn’t have cable. PBS was the only thing I watched.”