'Morning Edition' Celebrates 35 Years With A Trip Down Memory Lane

'Morning Edition' Celebrates 35 Years With A Trip Down Memory Lane

2:32pm Nov 05, 2014
Bob Edwards was the host of Morning Edition from its 1979 inception until 2004.
Bob Edwards was the host of Morning Edition from its 1979 inception until 2004.
Max Hirshfeld / NPR
  • Bob Edwards was the host of Morning Edition from its 1979 inception until 2004.

    Bob Edwards was the host of Morning Edition from its 1979 inception until 2004.

    Max Hirshfeld / NPR

  • Memo from Larry Lichty, former NPR director of audience research and evaluation, seeking name suggestions for a new morning news program.

    Memo from Larry Lichty, former NPR director of audience research and evaluation, seeking name suggestions for a new morning news program.

    NPR

On this day in 1979, Morning Edition broadcast its first show, bringing a new style of storytelling to the early-drive-time airwaves.

That first show, hosted by Bob Edwards and Barbara Hoctor, included an interview with a young actor named Martin Sheen about Apocalypse Now; a report on a failed prison escape by James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.; and a story about Rhodesia, a country that no longer exists. (You can view the first show's rundown of segments here.)

Over the next 35 years, Morning Edition would elevate itself to become public radio's top news program.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Whatever happens, you can expect to hear the results on this program, which is celebrating a birthday today. MORNING EDITION is 35 years old.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

At 35, the program is now just a little below the median age of the U.S. population. We're hearing the sound of the first broadcast. It was hosted by Bob Edwards, who was the voice of the program for almost a quarter-century.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BOB EDWARDS, HOST:

Good morning. Today is Guy Fawkes Day. Guy's plot to blow up Parliament was discovered on this day in 1605. Today is the beginning of National Split Pea Soup Week, and it's the debut of this program. I'm Bob Edwards.

BARBARA HOCTOR, HOST:

I'm Barbara Hoctor. Today is Monday, November 5, this is NPR's MORNING EDITION.

INSKEEP: That first program in November 1979 proposed to expand radio news at a time when radio news was declining.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

HOCTOR: Roy Rogers is 67 years old today. Art Garfunkel and Elke Sommer, both 38.

EDWARDS: Socialist labor leader Eugene Debs was born on this day in 1855. Journalist Ida Tarbell had the same birthday two years later.

HOCTOR: And the news is next.

GREENE: Topping the show that day, a story about a part of Africa we know today as Zimbabwe. Back then it had a different name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

EDWARDS: The conference on Rhodesia at London's Lancaster House is at another make-or-break point, this time over British plans for the transition to constitutional rule. A report from NPR's Robert Siegel in London.

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: The British say they will run Rhodesia in the form of a British governor, and they want the interim regime to be as short as possible.

INSKEEP: Also on the first 1979 show, an interview with the young actor named Martin Sheen talking about a little movie he'd made called "Apocalypse Now."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MARTIN SHEEN: The first sequence I shot was the helicopter assault. The first time I walked on camera, that was it. I went up in the chopper and scared the daylights out of me.

GREENE: Other stories on that first MORNING EDITION, a failed prison escape by James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King.

INSKEEP: A report using music and tap dancing to explain the high cost of shoes.

GREENE: And a remembrance of Will Rogers on the hundredth anniversary of his birth.

INSKEEP: And here's a story that did not get a lot of attention on the show that first day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

HOCTOR: Iranian students who yesterday took over the American Embassy in Tehran have now stormed the British Embassy. This morning the Ayatollah Khomeini called the American Embassy a center of spying and plotting. Students there were holding about 60 Americans as hostages.

GREENE: The Iran hostage drama was just beginning. It would take several days for it to rise to a full-blown international crisis. The crisis lasted more than a year.

INSKEEP: MORNING EDITION was there throughout and throughout the years that followed. Six presidents, two Gulf wars, 9/11, hurricanes Katrina and Sandy - everything, including last night's election, and we're looking ahead to the next one. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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