After a 21-year run, NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” call-in show will end this summer. We’ll hear from NPR about its decision and get listener reactions and recommendations for what should replace the program. And we’ll talk about recent reports on the health of news media in general.

Kinsey Wilson, chief content officer for NPR
Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute
Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism
John Boland, president and CEO of KQED Public Media

  • aaarg…

  • Hal Barca

    Oh no! Why oh why?!?

  • Pontifikate

    The trend seems to be giving people less and less of a voice, literally, in radio (public and commercial) and government. This is a bad trend and I hope NPR reconsiders.

    • Sanfordia113

      Could you have publicly commented on this issue so easily 15 years ago?

      • Pontifikate

        This online forum is wonderful, but it’s not the airwaves; it’s not radio. And if we talk metaphorically about having a voice, I doubt anyone who isn’t rich feels that they have a voice in government. We’ll see whether the voice of the people has any success in keeping Talk of the Nation on the air.

  • Albert

    I’m glad. TOTN was never anything more than an echo of the other mainstream media shows. The same lies, the same spin, the same censorship. It was quite useless.

    • Guest

      Lies, spin and censorship? You really think you can just drop inflammatory accusations into a discussion thread without being called out for not citing any evidence? You don’t practice what you preach when you do this and make a very poor ambassador for more trenchant possibilities.

  • pwfsf

    Terrible decision to end this show.

    • Guest


      • pwfsf

        My opinion – I liked the range of subjects many of them topical not just some guy promoting a book. I thought Neal Conan was good – he’s no Ray Suarez, and well prepared for the guest’s topic. Plus I like the call-in aspects of the show since it allows guests to be challenged. And I’m and old fart that is somewhat resistant to change.

  • OldVet

    TOTN was engaging when Ray Suarez was there, for he asked penetrating questions. Since he transferred to the TV news hour, both he, there, and the new TOTN became plain vanilla… pap… stenography of the establishment view.

    Actual intelligence is an endangered quality in our media and I applaud Michael Krasny for representing it. I hope this is seen as a spur to the substitute hosts which in my judgement, lack the depth.

    So this to you, Scott Shafer and others. Remember when you were a kid and skidded down a hill of grass on a piece of cardboard? You could barely turn. Your questioning is often (not always) like that. It is kind to the interviewee, and boring to listen too. In case you have not noticed, our society is breaching and cannot seem to right itself. Regrooving the status quo will not help. Challenge bogus assumptions…. and follow up. Imagine: follow up questions!

    Prepare, not only by reading the respondents book, but also studying history, and Listen to the Language! Imagine interviewing a man named Jerk-O-wits about pap programming. I am sure your demeanor with Herr Content Officer will be polite….. I am not asking for the surface ‘Got Cha’ journalism of vulgar talk shows… but the depth that goes to inspecting assumptions… that Michael Krasney, almost uniquely can accomplish.

    Example, an entire presidential campaign was run with both candidates calling for More Jobs. Hell, the robots are working fine, and there is plenty of stuff, lots of food. Stocks are soaring. We cannot distribute what we have. And somehow what masquerades as our intelligencia cannot comment on that. But…. I wind on. enough.

    • thucy

      “TOTN was engaging when Ray Suarez was there, for he asked penetrating questions. Since he transferred to the TV news hour, both he, there, and the new TOTN became plain vanilla… pap… stenography of the establishment view.”

      You are correct, sir!

    • Melissa Bryan

      Oh, I say. Having registered my distress, I can now contemplate a more exciting future. Well said, sir.

    • Well said!

    • Brilliantly said !
      NPR please take note.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    My question is why some show from Boston in place of TOTN? Seems NPR has liberal left or right coast hosted shows and none from what I deem ‘middle America’.

    If NPR wants to claim its not just a liberal outfit then prove it and bring in more diversity. Surely there are some good local NPR shows out of Nebraska, Texas, the Dakotas, Montana etc.

    • Guest

      NPR doesn’t need to prove anything to you. Have you looked at a population map lately?

    • Cathy

      Examples of this liberal bias?

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        I didn’t say I personally thought it was liberal but it’s what we hear/read a lot from others and there are some great non SF/NYC/Boston NPR stations with fresh views that are not being heard by folks on either west/east coast liberal areas.

        Maybe if NPR carried shows from some non west/east state coasts people would realize that there are more average folks who love NPR and be supportive of NPR.

        When was the last time you heard Rob Dreher types on NPR on a regular basis? Since most NPR folks don’t know him, he wrote Crunchy Con which was about conservatives who are green living etc. When was the last time you heard a conservative NPR host or guest talking about the need for off grid living, less is more lifestyles, population issues, veganism?

        Look back over the last year to which shows got the most comments on FORUM and the one show with Chloe Coscarelli per her vegan cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen was one of the top shows and did you know its conservative vegan folks like Seventh Day Adventists who helped make it a best seller? Yet I bet many people assume it was only popular with young progressive adults.

        Every year we send in our NPR member donation and have done so for decades. Yet, I rarely hear hosts or guests who like my family and friends are more conservative in some areas. In fact I sit in amazement knowing that we have been off grid, vegan/vegetarian, vegetable gardening, higher education, evolution believing, pro responsible capitalism, major bibliophile and high tech folks for decades.

        Yet the hosts and guests on NPR would have listeners believe (in my view) that it’s only progressive leaning folks who are either into these things or heaven forbid, discovered these things.

        • thucy

          I gotta give you credit, that was a thoughtful and sincere response. There is some common ground between right and left, and you make a good point that the non-reactionary conservatives don’t get heard enough.
          And that deprives us of the potential for some actual solutions.

    • thucy

      actually, Beth, for once I kind of agree with you that we need greater diversity in local radio, and I do like some of the midwest radio shows.

      BUT I’d prefer to see greater INTERNATIONAL news diversity… maybe broadcasts from France, Japan, Russia.

      BBC is great because it exposes how out of tune our conservatism is with the rest of the world.

    • People in Boston are smarter then us. When I moved to California in the 80’s from Boston I noticed that everything from Museums to radio stations (KQED) were dumbed down.

      • Melissa Bryan

        Oh, that should go down well. At least it made me laugh with rue.

      • thucy

        Josie, I grew up between east and west coasts, but mostly SF. If you are talking specifically about the 1980s, then I have to agree that SF was far more provincial at that time. Most of us kids were dying to go to school back East. New York promised greater diversity and opportunity (and culture.) Boston, not so much.

        • Another Mike

          Oh, SF was more provincial? While students in Berkeley were protesting for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, people in Boston were protesting having to go to school with black folks.

          • thucy

            1. I wasn’t referring to Boston.
            2. I was clearly referring to SF in the 1980s, which does not equal Cal Berkeley.
            3. In the 1980s Cal Berkeley students were not protesting the war in Vietnam, which ended (duh) in 1975.
            3. Cal Berkeley students are not comparable to grade school students in Boston during the bussing conflict.
            4. See: Bulger, Whitey and influence in bussing riots.
            5. Students at Columbia were plenty politically active in 1980s, see South African divestment protests.
            6. Believe it or not, Mike, there is a whole state/countryworld/universe outside the Bay Area.

          • Another Mike

            1. The topic is Boston vs. SF.

            2. What a difference the Bay Bridge makes? I would disagree.

            3. The Bay Area was far more advanced than Boston from the 60s on, and did not lose their edge.
            4.The anti-school segregation movement in Boston lasted till 1988.
            5. Columbia?

          • thucy

            You clearly conflated Josie’s comment with mine. Try re-reading both.

      • Another Mike

        Yes, any place where pot stickers had to be renamed “Peking Ravioli” so that the locals could comprehend what they were has to be far more advanced that the Bay Area.

        I’ve been to Boston several times — barring the rudeness of the locals I would consider it the San Francisco of the east, compact and walkable. The biggest difference between Bostonians and San Franciscans is the number of moms pushing babies around the art museums. I guess this is supposed to infuse toddlers with culture, whether they can see the art or not.

  • Guest

    Change is good. (I particularly won’t miss that hokey Roger McGuinn theme music for the ancient “Political Junkie” segment.)

  • In his statement to NPR, Neal Conan said “I’m proud that we go out on top, with record station carriage and the largest audience in the program’s history.” I don’t understand why NPR would get rid of such a popular and beloved program. At first I was sad, but now I am pissed off. We already have Morning Edition, The BBC News, and All Things Considered to give us the news. We don’t need another news show.

  • Another Mike

    Talk of the Nation is the only npr show that airs in the Bay Area in real time in the daylight. I love recorded Diane Rehm whenever I’m in Santa Cruz, but she is live from 7 to 9 AM

    Should we dump Morning Edition to hear Diane Rehm live? Talk of the Nation really binds us to the nation.

    • I agree completely. Even FORUM gets nationwide callers. And I love TOTN for letting me hear folks from Alabama and Montana as well as NYC and Hawai’i. LIVE radio works.

  • geraldfnord

    0.) Mr Conan appeared generally to audibly sneer at anyone not close to the very middle of the Overton Window—his split with Hansen might not have made him any friends, either.

    1.) The show degraded its ‘unique sales proposition’—and lost depth—after it switched to multiple topics per hour.

    2.) Local programming is generally much more interesting, and is now available over the Web.

    3.) Speaking of which, opinionated jerks (I am one, sometimes, probably more often than I think) now have endless fora on which to spout.

    4.) “T.o.t.N” was fielding fewer and fewer calls as the years went on, anyway.

    • thucy

      Well said. Ray Suarez rocked TOTN at inception; Neal Conan was good but never good enough.

      • geraldfnord

        Actually, I think that Neal Conan was in there early on after, John Hockenberry left, as a filler-in: he’s the host about whom Sarah Vowell complained in her 1994[?]

        • thucy

          Not in the same time slot, but it would be great to get Harry Shearer’s sardonic and muckraking “Le Show” broadcast on KQED. The guy is probably a little too left-wing fir KQED, but WNYC and KCRW have made a home for him. (Not that Shearer, post-Simpsons royalties, needs the dough, but he’s a tough non-partisan critic of media and government, and worthy of the KQED listenership.

          • Another Mike

            KALW picks up the “public radio” shows that don’t fit KQED’s format. I like Whadya Know as well as Le Show.

          • Bill Tutuki

            True KALW is more focused on the city while KQED is more aimed on what the suburbs think about Public broadcasting.

    • Gerald, I agree with your analysis but a few changes would solve the show’s shortcomings–far short of cancellation, which, IMHO, is a disaster. NPR has a history of making misguided decisions at the top and canceling TOTN is absolutely one of the worst ones to date.

  • Wrong wrong wrong.

  • Ramona C

    It’s a joke right? Ha ha…. My suggestion…. leave TOTN alone. My 28 yr old husband echo’s this. Kinsey, Mark and Tom…. all men…. you are off base and I am gone if TOTN is gone. Suck it up you are wrong.

    • Guest

      This kind of carefully considered feedback is precisely why NPR does not program by consensus. (Thank goodness.)

  • Another Mike

    Oh great — another delayed npr show.

  • erictremont

    I will not miss TOTN, the show has outlived its usefulness. It suffers from several problems, including a slavish devotion to the news cycle (i.e., it often features topics that have already been discussed ad nauseum on other NPR and PBS shows during the previous 48 hours) and a host who is ill suited to this type of show (he has the annoying habit of cutting off callers who have something interesting to say while letting callers with nothing to say drone on and on). One thing I will miss about the show is the occasional apperances by Ted Koppel who is always interesting—I hope NPR will find a place for him, he provides a valuable perspective on national security and foreign policy issues.

    • Another Mike

      1. Not everyone listens to all of the other NPR and PBS news shows.
      2. The NPR and PBS shows do not court feedback.

    • thucy

      Koppel is to radio what Sriracha is to pho – the more the better!

    • He does cut off people with interesting points.

      I found myself often screaming at him.

      Somebody else may have been able to save the show.

      I always liked Rebecca Roberts.

  • 4TheFundamentals

    Sadly, TOTN became infected by the cancer that has wormed into so much of our media: the cancer of false equivalency. The show’s producers seemed to be as concerned with “appearing” balanced, which had the effect of making them negligent in their responsibility to broadcast reality & the facts. I stopped listening years ago, precisely because I have no need to hear “fake balance.”

    • Another Mike

      So what do you listen to, instead?

    • Maybe that’s why the topics became so inane?
      They’re talking basketball as I write this …had to turn it off as is often the case.

  • I’d like to understand if the new show will get the 400+ slots around the country, or local broadcasters can choose new content during the talk of the nation slot?

    I’m not concerned with change, I’m concerned with the homogenizing of content and I don’t think an untried program deserves the slot.

  • Chumbo Flummix

    If NPR wants to cancel a show, my vote is for Marketplace. Worthless fluff, twice a day.

    • Sanfordia113

      It’s a pretty good show, but why is it repeated? And why is the broadcast delayed until 4pm? Play it live at 2pm, or don’t play it at all.

    • mountain_webbie

      I agree. Cancel Marketplace.

      • Jon was saying how he want’s more West Coast shows.
        imho…Marketplace is about the only one that’s any good.

        • mountain_webbie

          actually California is 2 states, Northern and Southern. Marketplace is LA. The forced humor comes across as smarmy and also isn’t funny. Everyone there wants to be in a movie or a sitcom. I sense that Kai thinks he is above it and wants to be more Hollywood. The stories are taken from the NY Times and WSJ, also cable news, it is just trite. Here and Now has been good, as have On Point and On the Media. But I will miss the sports talk, political junky and the mysterious t-shirts, the bad puns and the occasional unique artists and thinkers that are on ToTN. I’ll miss it. I hope they do a podcast that I can subscribe to.

  • Stephen Phillips

    I enjoy Here & Now. Is there any chance that Political Junkie might be incorporated into the show. May I also add my concern about the ‘dumbing down’ potential within NPR. This is our national voice and deserves serious focus.

  • Pat Gentry

    I’ll listen to the replacement show and then make a better distinction, but I hear two things this morning: first, removal of local response and relevance for the Bay Area. Second. surprisingly, an assumption that radio is moving to mobile devices. Wrong for Me! I listen during both commutes, and frequently as I work. I get most of my international and deeper national content online or in print media, but look to KQED for content that’s local, reflective of my interests, and queries the difference between the West Coast and the rest of America.

  • Richard B. Rood

    Just a preference vote … I am member of several NPR stations, listen on the web. Far prefer to Talk of the Nation and Forum to Here and Now. Here and Now sounds very generic. Will miss TotN.

  • Rob

    Was not able to listen much; sometimes during lunch. My biggest problem is Neil Conan not being able to slow down. Speaking fast on the radio is not always helpful, but speaking fast AND saying ‘uh’ a lot makes it even harder to follow. In addition, the political junkie had too often a humorous focus. Overall, it would be bad if the program is not replaced with a good news item. But change is not always bad.

    • Another Mike

      Right, humor on the radio must be rooted out wherever it appears. Somebody make sure Keillor gets this memo.

    • Sanfordia113

      “Speaking fast” – is this an April Fool’s joke? Neal was slow and boring. The only time I enjoyed it was when downloaded as a podcast and replayed at 2x speed.

  • Matt

    You can quibble about why talk of the nation is being canceled, but the reasons given on forum don’t wash. First I heard that the new format of shows will make it more amenable to young people and mobile media. What? Someone explain this to me. How is the new show supposed to support mobile devices better then TON. They are both audio and can be streamed just the same. Give us a real reason, not something you just make up.

    • Sanfordia113

      because the new show is supposedly more easily broken up into shorter themed segments that can be separately downloaded as a podcast, rather than a boring 1-hour long diatribe with no idea what will be discussed when.

  • Jennifer Dill

    I listen to Hear and Now regularly on my home station, OPB. It is an excellent show, covering news stories in more depth than Morning Edition. I prefer it over hearing random listeners calling in to TOTN.

  • Matt

    What do you do when you have a show that has record coverage and the most listeners in it’s history?

    1) Leave it alone.
    2) Tweak it a bit to keep up with the times.
    3) If you are an NPR Executive, cancel the show to prove that “you are doing something.”

  • During a recent 18 month work relocation to SoCal, I was a KVCR listener (a station already carrying Here & Now) and an instant, ardent H&N fan. It’s not a new show; they know what they’re doing. I’ve podcasted it (and, dare I say, diane rehm) since my return to SF last August. Buck up.

  • Kristilinamarie

    I’m one of these “young people” you keep talking about, and I think this is a terrible idea. We need MORE in-depth discussion and national discussion forums. The lack of these is what is driving this country apart politically and socially.

    • You don’t remember but, TOTN used to be a very in-depth show with intelligent hosts. For those of us that remember Juan Williams and Ray Suarez the show has been in a nose dive ever since Neil Conan took the helm.

      • thucy

        Ray Suarez was IT.

  • Another Mike

    If Talk of the Nation must go, please replace it with a show aired live from 11 to 1 Pacific Time.

  • William Walker

    Talk of the Nation is a great program, but what KQED should do is look at what KPCC has done down south. Their programming block from 9am to 1pm is locally produced: two hours of news and entertainment magazine and two hours of local talk a la Forum with Michael Krasny. A two hour magazine that was locally based, i.e. a more well-resourced California Report, could focus upon the different issues on the West Coast from diversity and gentrification to science and technology.

    • Bill Tutuki

      True KQED should look at KPCC and KCRW for ideas.

  • Lisa Feldstein

    I am clearly in the minority, but I’m excited about the decision to end Talk of the Nation. My radio must strip out the “depth” to which other listeners are referring, because I find TotN to be shallow and glib. I look forward to deeper content on the new program.

    • Sanfordia113


    • I used to write to NPR every year to please get rid of Neil Conan.
      I finally just gave up.

  • Another Mike

    Historically day-old bread was cheaper — could KQED start asking for a discount on these “tape-delayed” shows?

  • beryl golden

    DEPTH is what I value on NPR, I listen on an mp3

  • Guest

    If the Political Junkie was the best political coverage available, then we have a generous quantity of room to improve.

    • Another Mike

      We must banish wit and entertainment from our airwaves. More David Brooks, please!

      • thucy

        David Brooks is so wretched that he has spawned a small cottage industry of mockers. In that sense, he is entertaining.

        • Guest

          I don’t always agree with David Brooks, but if all the programming on NPR were as articulate, consistent, and carefully researched as what Mr. Brooks typically brings to the conversation then we would be much better off. The rest of dial is available for wit and entertainment apparently. If you’re just looking for a mindless chuckle, change the station.

          • thucy

            Brooks is “carefully researched”? That assessment might cause many of us to question whether you actually read his, uh, stuff.

    • thucy

      Political Junkie was so shallow that it defied belief! Listening to Rudin’s DC boilerplate was excruciatingly painful.

      • I agree and by making the political discussion all about the “horse race” and not issues it helps to fuel the problem of money and politics.

  • Cynthia Towle

    I think Neil Conan was on too long and wasn’t the interviewers that John Hockenberry and Ray Suarez were. I’m very sorry to see this wonderful 2- hour show (TOTN) end.

  • Sanfordia113

    TOTN is boring. But don’t replace it with yet another East Coast talking heads show. Too much of our news is catered around the lives of Washington & East Coasters.

    Instead, replace it with a new hybrid show that combines the elements of TED Talks, Marketplace’s “From The Corner Office,” Youth Radio, Which Way L.A., and Forum With Michael Krasny.

    • sounds like some good ideas. I like my Presidents and my talk show hosts to be smarter then me;) Mr Krazney would be a good role model for Neil’s replacement.

  • Shaadan

    This is a Shame!!! FOX / KKK are winning!!! Let go the NPR CEO and save money for the best radio program in the World!!!

  • Greg Stach

    With the loss of Talk of the Nation, since Forum is mostly Bay Area focused and with heavy S F emphasis, KQED should add the Diane Reems show. Her talk show deals mostly with national issues, as well as significant world wide concerns. As a Marin county resident, I frequently listen to her show instead of Forum for this reason.

    • thucy

      I feel terrible for writing this, but I don’t know if Rehm’s talents can overcome (nationally) her vocal dysfunction. I have been told she has a medical condition that makes her voice like that, but it reminds me of Vonnegut’s “Welcome To The Monkey House” collection – wherein they choose voice-disabled news commentators in order to compensate for earlier biases.

      • Greg Stach

        Are you kidding?! She wouldn’t already have a nationally broadcasted program if your concern was a real! Yes, she does have a speaking disorder, the unfortunate result of a medical condition. I, nor anyone I’ve spoken with, has difficulty understanding her speech. It’s just different and doesn’t affect the quality of her programming.

        • thucy

          Yeah, I’m not unsympathetic to your preference, but I beg to differ: Rehm’s voice is a miserable distraction. And if NPR is trying to collect younger listeners, Rehm will cost them.

      • mountain_webbie

        You get used to it just as with other disabilities. She has a very good show, a good interviewer, and her guests tend to talk more slowly and actually listen before speaking, AKA civil discourse.

  • Lot’s of really good comments here.
    I think a lot of us feel that Neal Conan just killed the show.
    I kept waiting for him to move on like his predecessors but I guess he didn’t have the ambition.

  • Melissa Bryan

    I’ve seen it coming and been very sad. This is a program that is one of most useful npr offers me to share w my adult children. “Huge blunder” expresses this ending.

  • Matt

    Interesting, KQED is the largest public radio station in the nation, and yet NPR didn’t bother to consult them about this decision. It’s a slap in the face to KQED and it’s a slap in the face to the listeners of TON

    • Another Mike

      Right, just keep the programming fees coming, and don;t worry your pretty little heads about what we deign to provide to you.

    • thucy

      Wait – sorry if I missed that part of the broadcast, but KQED is the “biggest” public radio in the nation? Citation, pls.

    • thucy

      Matt, the only citation I could find on google was from NPR in 2009, it ranks KQED as number four, behind #1 classical KUSC in LA, and, unsurprisingly, groundbreaking WNYC at #2.
      The fearless city reporting out of WNYC is something KQED should aspire to…

    • Jeff Lionz

      Totally Agree Matt, do you think KQED can wield enough influence to reverse this insane decision?

    • KQED may be the largest but it’s far from the best.
      When I moved from Boston i was very disappointed in it’s quality.
      Forum is the only show that’s worth anything on radio and TV.

      • Kenji Yamada

        Are you counting The California Report? I think it’s consistently excellent, even better than Forum in some respects.

    • Bill Tutuki

      Isn’t KQED one of a few NPR and PBS affiliates that produces most of the Ratings and Revenue for Public Broadcasting in the USA. Well if KQED cannot find a good talk show by July they can negotiate with PRI inc and air “To the Point With Warren Olney” a KCRW Los Angeles Production at the 11am timeslot.

  • Lee

    Well, this is astonishing. You’d think a network would want a mix of styles of content. A national feedback show is a great thing for democracy. (deep, investigative news stories are precious too, compared to continuously repeating headlines.) But the mix is best.

  • Lee

    Years ago, KQED switched from a member-elected board to a self-elected board. If NPR didn’t consult KQED in this decision, it’s karma in action.

    • thucy

      wow, I wasn’t aware of that. It does seem to explain some of the programming decisions.

  • NPR’s top-down, East Coast-dominated decision to pull TOTN stinks.

    I have been listening to and supporting KQED and NPR for decades, and KQED-FM is just about the ONLY radio I listen to–and yes, I listen on the radio because it does not require any interaction except to turn it on. And I listen all day long, about 14-15 hours a day. I have called in to TOTN and love listening to it, especially the Political Junkie segments: you simply cannot get that kind of insight anywhere else in broadcasting. Period.

    NPR says there is a “glut” of talk radio? At what IQ level and where on the political spectrum is it? There is certainly no glut of truly INTELLIGENT live conversation–especially smart and even-handed/moderate conversation–on the national radio scene. FORUM plus TOTN is a great window into what all kinds of people are thinking–live and in real time–and all I have to do is listen. (i call in, too.)

    NPR’s top-down, East Coast-dominated decision to pull TOTN stinks.

    TOTN often provides news content and breaking news along with the talk format, which I deeply appreciate. I consider it part of my news and education programming and look forward to learning from my fellow listeners when they call. (And I can work or wash dishes while I listen: try that while driving or monitoring a mobile device for the next big email,)

    I do NOT need more “top-down” news production from NPR, which has plenty of well-packaged news that is already too narrow in its “white bread” approach. (I am a 61-year-old male Caucasian, and I need literally more color in my news than NPR usually delivers.)

    I have not always found much benefit from programs based in the northeast–the perspective (other than Terri Gross and FRESH AIR, which I love) is often isolated from what I experience as reality here in northern California. To say I am dubious is the understatement of the year.

    What will we gain on the west coast from listening to yet another tape-delayed top-down news program from the “white bread” East Coast? At least listening to TOTN I heard from–and learned from– callers in Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Montana, and all across the nation. Giving up that collective “living room conversation” seems to Balkanize the country even more, something NPR claims to oppose and work against.

    NPR’s top-down, East Coast-dominated decision to pull TOTN stinks.

  • Andrew

    In response to the request for how to fill the newly open slot, I think the new version of Here and Now would be a great choice. A show as Kinsey described, a more in-depth version of Morning Edition or All Things Considered, would be a great addition at that hour – especially if they bring on Ken Rudin on Wednesdays.

    I very much enjoy Forum, which is far and away the best call-in program on radio, but I felt the call-in portions of Talk of the Nation were usually the least informative sections of each hour. I love Science Friday, but I even think they could benefit from shortening the section devoted to calls. By and large, I think this change is a good one.

    I’ve also heard many of the other programs discussed to fill the slot and Here and Now has the best programming of the bunch.

    On a final note, Neil Conan is an excellent host. I was sad to hear of the news for him, and I really hope he finds another home on NPR.

  • Melissa Bryan

    My biggest worry, when I first suspected this was coming, was for Science Friday. Thank the gods it continues.

    • Another Mike

      I like the politics show on Wednesday, as well.

      NPR never would have cancelled it during an election year.

    • Matt

      I guess Science Friday, is better then no Science show at all. However it’s dumbed down when compared to “The Naked Scientist” or “Big Picture Science” It’s all part of NPR’s “Strategy” to appeal to the lowest common denominator, hence the cancellation of TON to be replaced by yet another news magazine show.

  • Geoff Browning

    How ’bout bringing in Tavis Smiley or Bill Moyers & Company? One of the reasons I have stopped listening more consistently is that the programming seems to have moved to the “lowest common denominator” which I find uninteresting.

    • thucy

      Thank you!!! Tavis or Moyers would be so great!!! In their trenchant analyses and compassionate manner, they are everything TOTN lacked. (No disrespect to Neal Conan.)
      Both Moyers and Tavis Smiley are willing to address subjects that mainstream media consistently blocks out.
      They both did terrific interviews of Andrew Jarecki (who directed “Why We Fight” and “The House I Live In”).

      I can’t even hear Jarecki interviewed on KQED! So yes to Tavis or Moyers.

      • Another Mike

        When do their shows air live? Or do they?

        • thucy

          Who cares when the content is orders of magnitude higher than Forum or TOTN?

          • Another Mike

            Download them as podcasts.

  • Henry

    Best use of the open two hours would be to hire Gene Burns, John Rothmann or host of similar caliber for a local news talk program.

  • Henry

    Best use of the two hours would be to hire Gene Burns, John Rothmann or similar-quality host for a local news talk show.

    • Another Mike

      While I would love to hear otherwise, I don’t think Gene Burns ever really recovered from his stroke. And Rothmann covered a certain range of topics he was comfortable with, which I think would limit the appeal of his show.

      • Henry

        You may well be right about those hosts. But there should be some excellent host/s who would be right for this kind of program on KQED. Forum is all well and good, but I’d like more news talk hours with great host/s on KQED.

        • Pontifikate

          I know Steve Inskeep talks fast, but I think he might make a good host for a TOTN program. Most of all, I want to hear real voices and talk about national issues in depth. I think they made a mistake when TOTN went to more than one issue per hour.

  • Jeff Lionz

    Finding consensus on the value of TOTN may be a problem for the series of posts I am reading here but I am a major fan of TOTN and Neil Conan, he is a smart, thoughtful and entertaining host, sure not every show is a home run or cover topics I am personally interested in but in the aggregate TOTN stands light years ahead of any the other NPR talk/discussion shows. I belong to several NPR stations, I listen to SirusXM too, there are many choices and points-of-view available to me but I am not giving up on TOTN because AI think NPR Management acted stupidly and thoughtlessly with this decision. Some of you here don’t like TOTN and want something else, that of course is your prerogative but you are in the minority – thank goodness.

  • Jeff Lionz

    Also if KQED isn’t the largest and most influential NPR station in the country who cares? What really irritates me is that NPR would undertake a unilateral decision of such magnitude without first discussing their reasons or potential ramifications, that is just nuts especially when we’re talking about replacing TOTN with second-rate alternatives that have no where near the listener accidence of TOTN, someone explain how this works?

    • Bill Tutuki

      Here is another idea KQED can negotiate with Cap Public radio KXJZ Newstalk Sacramento for a localized version under “Talk of Northern California”

  • liz h

    I love the way Neal engages his guests. Perhaps it’s his enthusiasm. I will miss TON.

  • menloman

    KQEDs progressive audience likes to promote ‘change’, except when it comes to their traditions, then they become the reactionaries.

    • Another Mike

      Replacing the midday show with one more like ATC or Morning Edition does not seem like a bold step forward.

  • Jules

    Loved the TOTN format with longer time periods devoted to a subject. Did not like Neal Conan. At all. Why don’t they get Michael Krasny to host TOTN? He can spread his awesomeness nationwide! I’m willing to share.

  • nora levine
  • John Miller

    The location of the program is less important than its content. TON too often pursued superficial topics from a conventional viewpoint punctuated with humor that was often not amusing. Rather than going with Here and Now, I suggest replacing TON with On Point hosted by Tom Ashbrook on WBUR, or Diane Rehm on WAMU, or To the Point with Warren Olney on KCRW or alternate among them. Even if these shows are not done live from 11 to 1 Pacific time they will better serve the KQED audience with serious discussion on important topics.


      I listen from time to time to On Point and Diane Rehm. I agree they are good. But Neil Conan’s Talk of the Nation is better. But if there is no alternative, either would be good replacement shows. And if they are not live, that’s still better than NPR’s suggested replacement pablum.

  • Sarah

    I am one of the “young listeners.” I listen to TOTN every chance I get, and it is my favorite show on NPR. I don’t want or need another shallow news show. Neal Conan’s ability to engage in real and respectful conversations with guests and callers is unparalleled. I’m disappointed that listeners and local stations were not consulted. Seems like public opinion weighs heavily in favor of replacing TOTN with TOTN. KQED, please go have a serious talk with NPR and let them know how deeply unhappy and disappointed your listeners are with this bizarre decision. I will no longer be able to pledge my financial support to KQED. TOTN is at the heart of what kept this listener coming back.

  • I guess he’s on at the wrong time—but I really got into Tom Ashbrook’s On Point program (WBUR) when I was living in Orlando! He’s just amazing. So low-key, and so real, and so smart.

  • Dan Foust

    I vote for Here and Now – radio doesn’t need another call-in show, even a very good one. Quality in-depth news is what I listen to public radio for.

  • Sandy B.

    Was this an April Fool’s joke?? You must be joking, NPR! Missed this episode; must listen to podcast…

  • Zach Trouefit

    Just don’t take away Science Friday!

  • Catherine Lee

    Weird idea by one of the national guys: tablets are important because long-form articles, etc. and reading more… But this conversation is about radio and listening. I rarely read NPR articles, I need to listen to them while I work, cook, or commute.
    Also: I think they’re wrong that they think we want to surf to every dang article like we do on the web: I listen to radio (yes on the radio AND on the web, depending on work or home) because I want a curated constant flow that I can listen to while I do other things.
    WE can all listen to local call-in intelligent programming on KALW (I have dual citizenship!).

  • Toothy

    Is there a way of boycotting NPR by not taking one of their shows?

    I’d listen to a locally produced program called Old Farts Describe Their Wood Burning Art Etchings for two hours if it meant a finger in the eye to management for this appalling decision.

    Maybe every Wednesday a panel discussion on making seasonal holiday wind socks.

    Wait, does PRI already offer this? Even better!


      I fully concur w Toothy’s view on this. NPR needs some push-back on this one. KQED should NOT air the replacement show. Wood burnings, Superman re-runs, Julia Child French Chef re-runs, Beowulf recitations every day for two hours in a different language each day, anything but what NPR wishes be aired for the replacement show. Good on you Toothy.

  • J Stewart

    I would love to hear Farai Chideya on KQED again. I feel the spirit she brought to News & Notes has been missed in the KQED lineup. Perhaps a national call-in with the news & notes mission would make a solid return volley of a program from the west coast to the east!

  • Robin

    I’m weighing in late on this topic. You know why? Because I just listened to it on my carefully curated iTunes playlist of podcasts. I subscribe to podcasts from all over: The Guardian, NPR, BBC, KQED, The Economist, the New York Times, Slate etc.. I don’t listen to Performance Today, but I listen to its Piano Puzzler segment on podcast. I don’t listen to PRI’S The World, but I listen to the GeoQuiz segment on podcast.

    All this to say, I pick and choose which TOTN segments I listen to, and I listen to them when I’m ready. I really hate call-in shows: the callers usually just want to hear themselves talk, and the announcers always have difficulty wrangling them so they make their darned point and stop talking before the music starts playing (like acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards, only every day for 2 hours. Oy.)

    So I’m not really bothered one way or the other about TOTN being cancelled. I can pick and choose content at will from all around the world. I will miss the Political Junkie segment, but guess what, it is available in a much better format as the It’s All Politics podcast with Ken Rudin and Ron Elving!

    Appointment radio listening is dead, in my household at least. I’m 51 years old – not young, and I never turn on the radio.


    DC Politico’s — both parties, including President Obama, being advocates for the 1% — don’t want the 99% to have a national voice. There’s more than one way to restrict 1st amendment rights to free speech. You can tell the 99% not to talk, or you can prevent them from talking by denying them a place to stand. And canceling NPR’s Talk of the Nation is the use of this second way to prevent a 99%’er from saying something on the air that DC Politico’s don’t like being said.

    KQED should in no way bow to this outrageous denial of freedom speech. Under no circumstances should KQED air the NPR suggested replacement news-magazine show. Here’s the options I favor:

    * Invite Neal Conan to San Francisco to continue the show live from KQED’s studios, and distribute it to NPR stations nationally.

    * Air Tom Ashcroft’s “On Point” or “The Diane Rehm Show” call-in show either live 11 am -1 pm, or if the live-time doesn’t match up, then delayed.
    * Ask former KGO news-talk and politics expert John Rothman to host a local or national call-in show produced at KQED.
    * Extend Forum for another 2 hours.

  • Pontifikate

    What am I looking for? Live radio and calls from all over the nation. True, we have talk shows on other stations, but like one caller said, most of it is right wing or about sports. We need to hear voices that, even if they don’t agree with us, are thoughtful, logical and tempered — something we can only get on Talk of the Nation.

    We don’t need another magazine show. As one caller said, we have hours and hours of Morning Edition All Things Considered, etc. We need and want what we have now: Talk of the Nation!

  • chrisnfolsom

    Is there an article that explains all the ins and out’s of this – KQED’s positions, Neal’s position and such. I had heard something about costs – are Neal and their team overcompensated (hard to believe…)?

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