Happy 40th To 'All Things Considered'
Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 9:45 am
Turning 40 is a good thing when it's a news program you're talking about. It's a sure sign you must be doing a lot of things right.
Today, All Things Considered hits that mark.
As NPR's Susan Stamberg says of the show, which she co-hosted for 14 years in the '70s and '80s, "when we started, there was war in Vietnam, demonstrations against that war, the voting age was lowered to 18, the Beatles had broken up and in the air — as well as on our air in the early '70s — a sweetly notable absence of irony."
She celebrates the show's milestone with a look back at past All Things Considered anniversary reports. We'll add her report, which airs on the show today, to the top of this post later.
Also on the show today, you'll hear from hosts past and present throughout the program. We've stitched together their remarks:
Meanwhile, for those interested in what the show sounded like on May 3, 1971, we've got some clips.
The original theme:
The way original host Robert Conley introduced the show:
Conley's 4-plus minute talk about the anti-war protests that day in Washington:
Some of the "sounds of the streets" that the show broadcast:
And, that show's first 30 minutes:
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED turns 40 years old today. And to mark this milestone, we've asked
NPR's Susan Stamberg has been here since we first went on the air on May 3, 1971, and she poked through our dusty archives to revisit some of the programs past birthday celebrations.
SUSAN STAMBERG: When we started, there was war in Vietnam, demonstrations against that war, the voting age was lowered to 18, the Beatles had broken up, and in the air, as well as on our air in the early '70s, a sweetly notable absence of irony.
Host Mike Waters marked ALL THINGS CONSIDERED's first birthday.
(Soundbite of host, Mike Waters)
MIKE WATERS: We will not devote this program to looking backward over the year.
STAMBERG: Well, not the whole program. We did give a party, invited some children, and asked what they liked on radio and TV. Nobody mentioned ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, ATC to us.
(Soundbite of children)
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I like "I Love Lucy," and "Dick Van Dyke," and love "Jeanie."
(Soundbite of woman singing)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (singing): When you're seeking a solution to (unintelligible)...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Don't drive, don't ride, walk it.
STAMBERG: On ALL THINGS CONSIDERED's second birthday, 1973, this non-commercial radio program ran a contest asking listeners to compose commercials for nicer living. We gave an example. The singer is Linda Wertheimer.
(Soundbite of singing):
LINDA WERTHEIMER (singing): When your head in a shambles so much so that it just rambles...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sort it out, seek escapes, take a walk.
STAMBERG: See what I mean about no irony?
(Soundbite of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED):
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: From National Public Radio in Washington, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
(Soundbite of music)
(Soundbite of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED)
SUSAN STAMBERG, host:
Good evening, I'm Susan Stamberg. We're marking the third birthday of our program today, and thinking youthful thoughts. First Bob Edwards has a summary of the day's top news.
BOB EDWARDS: The Watergate prosecutor's office...
STAMBERG: A president resigned, a war ended, we got a new theme, they changed like hairdos, and ATC turned five, then six. Every year we marked out birthday. In those early under-resourced years, I think we did it in amazement that we'd made it to another May 3.
At least by age seven we got a sense of humor about it.
(Soundbite of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: In a congratulatory message to the staff, NPR president, Frank Mankiewicz took to the intercom and he said, seven years may not be much for a struggling young public radio network, but look at it this way, if we were a dog, we'd be 119. The staff applauded and then barked.
STAMBERG: Age 10 seems a big deal. Bill Siemering, NPR's first program director who conceived of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, had congratulations and concerns.
BILL SIMERING: I would fear that because of its success, there's a tendency to not take as many chances and not to have as much fun as you should have.
STAMBERG: Twenty, another milestone, half of perfect vision. So we found some people who were 20 and asked what it was like.
UNKNOWN WOMAN: I feel like I can make decisions about my life that I couldn't have made a couple years ago.
STAMBERG: Another decade, 10 more candles on the radio cake, in 2001, some 30 year olds reminisced.
UNKNOWN MAN: I grew up in a state of profound nuclear angst.
UNKNOWN WOMAN: I had a scrapbook of Princess Diana. Her wedding, that was really cool.
UNKNOWN MAN: The Gulf War was a TV special, and it's all precision and clean and smart bombs and CNN.
STAMBERG: Today they're all 40, and so is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. For some of us it's nice to be 40 at our age. Wishing ATC many more lively decades.
I'm Susan Stamberg, NPR News.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Pardon?
STAMBERG: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm drawing blank.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't understand. Is what 20 years old today?
STAMBERG: Oh, hi again. I couldn't resist this. We were half our age when this was recorded. In 1991 our audience was maybe half its present size, but running it again at 40 keeps us humble.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, which ones are they?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED is for National Public Radio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't listen to National Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.