Neal Conan

As a public radio reporter, editor and host, Neal Conan covered many of the most significant news events of the past several decades. While reporting on the first Gulf War, he was held captive by Iraqi soldiers. But most public radio listeners know Conan as the final host of NPR’s daily call-in show, “Talk of the Nation.” We’ll talk to him about the future of public broadcasting and his current projects — including his ongoing multimedia collaboration with Celtic Folk chamber group Ensemble Galilei.

Neal Conan on His Career and Life After ‘Talk of the Nation’ 4 December,2013forum

Neal Conan, longtime public radio journalist and final host of NPR's "Talk of the Nation"

  • David

    please bring Neal and Talk of the Nation back

  • Chris OConnell

    I really came to have a lot of affection and respect for Neal Conan over the last 5 years or so of listening to Talk of the Nation. He did a great job and it’s a real loss to long-form journalism for NPR. But corporate imperatives and political considerations continue their insatiable march.

    To add insult to injury, a show that had maybe 2 or 3 topics an hour is replaced by one with 15 or 20! I especially miss the great segment with Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie. That was an incredibly smart and funny segment. And I am very proud that earlier this year I became a winner of the trivia contest and I cherish the t-shirt and button (and signed “plaque”).

  • Chris OConnell

    It became hard for me to listen to NPR’s flagship programs during the 2012 general election. Morning Edition and All Things Considered had really lame coverage. So predictable, the horserace, the nonsense. It was just like CNN and everyone else.

    Earlier, the NPR website and comments suffered a major decline in the wake of the Juan Williams and dual Schiller imbroglios. Right-wing imbeciles flowed in and so that interesting and engaging aspect of NPR was now mostly gone, at least for the political-partisan type stories. And then earlier this year, losing Talk of the Nation was the final blow to my NPR listener-ship, by and large. I am lucky to have KPFA and some good news programming there but there are times I have to shut them off and I turn to NPR.

    If it weren’t for “the Kraz” and Forum I would no longer be a contributor obviously, but this is a very valuable show to me so I have to pay the piper. I just wish I could give to KQED and not have any of it go to NPR!

  • Chris OConnell

    Not only has the right-wing been calling for defunding NPR, but I’ve heard from the other side that NPR should forgo government funding. The idea is that this would free it from political pressure and allow it to go back to some of its earlier ways when there was much less political pressure or business considerations. It seems the main problem here is for the small, rural stations that get a lot of federal money. What does Neal think about this issue?

  • Robert Thomas

    I very much admired Hockenberry’s and Suarez’s tenures; I was startled by Williams’s exposing his disturbing near-psychosis, on air; I was saddened by the retreat to the forty-minute / twenty minute format (allowing Mr. Conan to interview more guests and relieving him of the nastiness of answering phone calls). It was a history of punctuated decline.

    I’m not surprised at Conan’s mention of some show or other (_Here and Now_?) causing his blood pressure to rise.

  • Jeanne Lynch Nelson

    Can’t call in today but I just want Neil to know that I miss him terribly and especially The Political Junkie. Their conversation was so enlightening and so funny. The only good thing about the demise of Talk of the Nation is that I now have lots more time and am not tethered to my radio during those hours. Miss Leanne too!

  • Katherine Baginski Doar

    Is there any chance for a return of “Talk of the Nation”? I think it was a huge mistake for NPR to drop what was the top quality talk show of the airwaves and a unique element in NPR’s programming. This had a lot to do with you Neil Conan and your way with your guests and callers that evoked lively but yet productive conversation and debate. I sorely miss the national conversation in the middle of my day (and the political junkie on Wednesdays).

  • William – SF

    Neal, find someplace on the radio dial soon, we’re dying over here — okay, mostly feel less informed and certainly bored, except for this show and handful of others.

  • Erendira Olivas

    Neal Conan is surely missed. He is a rarerity among journalists nowadays. He brought thorough knowledge and objectivity to every single issue. Thank you for all those years of true journalism. We need you back!

  • Oh, what a joy it is to hear Neal Conan’s familiar voice on “Forum” this morning. My public radio listening life has not been the same since TOTN went off the air. The new shows are a poor substitute for the program they replaced, and I often find that I prefer to listen to podcasts or music during those hours instead of tuning into KQED. I hope I don’t have to wait another six months before hearing Neal’s voice again!
    -Sue Trowbridge

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Has Neal ever been told his voice is too “breathy?” Also, I loved TOTN and yes, I do miss it. But I often wanted to hear a harder challenge from Neal to some of his guests. How did he balance the NPR trend to come across as “friendly” against the journalistic rigor of ferreting out the truth regardless of social niceties?

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Thanks for reading that on air (@940 am)!

  • Susan Green

    I was so disappointed that TOTN was canceled. It was the center of my listening day on NPR. The voices and perspectives of you and your colleagues warm my heart and connect me to the world. Michael, I’m glad you have Neal on the show this morning. I miss you, Neal!

  • Donna

    Neal! So good to hear your voice! I miss you and TOTN. I just can’t seem to get interested in the replacement shows. I prefer the in depth discussion of a subject that can only be achieved by the hour long format.

  • Debbie Neff McKee

    Miss you so much….I listened every day…financial decision…very stupid stuff
    (quoting a famous terminal NPR host)..

  • Paul Schultz

    My mornings with NPR are just not the same without Neal and T.o.T.N. I was very angry with my favorite radio station when I heard that last tearful show.
    Michael you better not go anywhere…

  • Lee

    Please bring back Talk of the Nation!!!! Please have Neil Conan as a KQED host!

    I used to listen KQED from morning until night, never needed to turn off the radio. now have to turn off the radio after 11a.m most times. I am not impressed by the NPR’s program”Here and Now” at all, the announcement music of the program sounds creepy , can’t stand it! The quality of NPR was 10 point, now it’s 4 point without Neil Conan!

  • Paul Schultz

    Here and There is like drinking decaf coffee compared to TOTN.

  • Liza

    Thank you Michael for bringing Neil Conan on to your show. I was very disappointed when I heard the show was being canceled and I did not understand why it would be canceled. I did some research after to find out answers and of course came up with nothing. I appreciate knowing that even employees within NPR were uncertain to why the show got canceled. I also agree with Neil, sometimes I listen to the radio during the hours where Talk of the Nation used to be and wonder why are they covering the information they are covering. It’s often lacking in substance and I certainly don’t feel smarter afterwards like I did after listening to Talk of the Nation.

  • Dianne

    i really miss Neal Conan and Talk of the Nation. I have tried to follow the new replacement show, but it is just not at the same standard as Talk of the Nation. I do not find the host engaging like Neal is. Nor do I find him and the show fitting the usual standard and style of NPR. It’s a loss to me, and I am a regular and very long-time supporter of NPR here in CA and before I move here from Houston, Texas. It was a pleasure to listen to your discussion together this morning and a sad one too because it made me even more aware of how much NPR listeners have lost.

  • Shar Foox

    Thoroughly missing Neal and Talk of the Nation. I was continuously impressed by how straight forward and well informed he was during the program. Thank you and I miss you to bits. Come back!

    Shar Foox
    Lafayette, CA

  • lisa

    I so miss Neal Conan and TOTN. I can’t believe NPR took it off and replaced it with those stupid other shows. Total pabulum now. So disappointed. We miss you Neal!

  • Shasta

    I’m 26 years old and a devoted listener to Forum (as well as Talk of the Nation when it was on air)! Wanted to let you know not all hope is lost on a younger generation.

  • Carol Fox

    I am just delighted to hear your voice. The fluff that replaced your wonderful show is appalling. The reporting is often as shallow as a kiddie pool. What can we do to get you back

    Carol Fox. Sacramento CA

  • Storm

    Love the show – miss Neal – For either Neal or Michael – what do you recall about your most challenging caller?

  • Cynthia Towle

    So good to hear Neal’s voice on the air! I miss those two hours & The Political Junkie. The two fluffy shows that replaced TOTN often have the same stories. Please bring a smart show back.

    • Ramona C

      My Husband and I really miss the Junkie Show also! Fluffy….yup that pretty much sums that up! 😉

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Thanks for critiquing NPR itself! As to Neal’s comments (44minutes into this show) that NPR is trying different formulas to appeal to 20-somethings who dont use radios, I guess that’s why I hear crappy rap songs(?) often punctuating Puzzlemaster Will Shortz’s segments. The way to appeal to the young is to produce shows WITH BITE. Don’t laugh, but a real radio Will McAvoy-type to speak truth about power and astonish with genuine zeal. Take Katrina for example, where the mainstream media parroted gov’t bee-ess that dressed up the inept Army Corps of Engineers, yet only NPR’s Harry Shearer’s Le Show puts their feet to fire. more of that, please! As the late Tom Snyder said, “the only thing phonier than show biz is the news biz.”

  • ldraxx

    I love hearing Neal’s voice – thought I was having a flashback – TOTN was great and I Loved the Political Junkie!!!!!

  • eileen

    I have to tell you both, Michael and Neal, you saved my sanity for many years. I listened while my children were babies and felt as if my brain was kept engaged. When my son passed away and I could not function, all I needed to do every morning was turn on the radio and I was brought back to life by both of your shows. From my morning coffee to my drive to work I was able to re-enter the non-grieving world as a functional person because I was able to listen to you both back to back. Thank you so much. You probably have no idea how much you might actually save people.

  • ldraxx

    Wonderful to hear Neal’s voice again – thought I was having a flashback. the new shows are just weak. I loved the Political Junkie! bring back Neal!!!!

  • R G Eastman

    I loved TOTN, because the discussion was so smart, and also because the callers were so well screened. Talk radio drives me crazy when there is an interesting guest, but the conversation becomes derailed by nut cases on the phone.

  • Ramona C

    We miss you terribly Neal! I’ve learned more from you two gents than anyone or anywhere.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Here & Now SUCKS! It sounds amateurish. More kudos are due Neal for presenting the Political Junkie w/ Ken Rudin. For that segment alone, TOTN was a champion.

  • Johnny Malone

    Love Neal and miss him! I love that he also didnt finish college! Validates me!

  • Another Mike

    We on the West Coast get short shrift from the networks — everything is tape delayed, except for KQED Forum itself. Talk of the Nation bound the nation together, in real time, from sea to shining sea.

  • $2870056

    Neal knows something about everything and knows when and what to ask for listeners, callers and guests.

    Aloha. And Mahalo nui loa, Miss you.

  • ldraxx

    Hey Keep Neal on for a second hour!

  • HillHon

    Neil, You are sorely missed! NPR made a big mistake in taking Talk of the Nation off the air. Your show was the glue that held together my day of NPR listening. I’m glad to have found Forum, but nothing replaces your format. I always appreciated your professional demeanor and encyclopedic knowledge. I missed my opportunity to ask you to talk about the actual TALK of the nation. Women with the vocal fry everywhere, including NPR, are so irritating. Also if it matters, I now go to other news sources because appealing to the demographic that this form of speech appeals to is driving me away. Please go to satellite radio if you have to.

  • Shalimar Sara Downing

    Okay, I didn’t hear the whole Forum show, but wow! I didn’t realize how much I missed Neal’s voice! But here’s what I remember, and don’t know if it was mentioned.

    I remember when Leanne was reporting on NPR when Neal was talken hostage in the Iran/Iraq I, and there was some reference to their partnership. She was pretty worried. I have always noted when it was one or the other on air that they’re together.

    Second memory — when Kraz put in for the TOTN position, when Juan Williams was sent packing. Imagine if he had gotten it, and he, too, would be gone! Thank god for that…

    Further, I was listening to TOTN when John Hockenberry was on, and it was VERY sad to lose him. Guess what? He has a show now, too. Neal! Come back! We’re waiting for you…can’t wait till your six months are up! Going to go see you with your group in Santa Rosa!

    Oh who knew that a voice could do so much?

  • Mary

    Great to hear Neal’s voice this morning! Talk of the Nation and Forum had been my favorite radio programs all these years. Thank you Neal and Michael–you both are wonderful radio hosts and educators. Looking forward to hearing Neal more often.

  • MonaLS

    What a breath of fresh air to hear Neal Conan again. I find myself
    listening less to NPR since the cancellation of Talk of the Nation. We need more programs
    like Talk of the Nation, not fewer. The in-depth reporting was wonderful and I learned a
    lot. I just don’t find the replacement shows interesting or informative. I also miss the funny and informative Politcal Junkie.

  • Al Magary

    If Neal Conan came back to some public radio channel, even on the net, I’d be very happy. If fact, how about if Neal moves to SF and follows Forum with a two-hour show?

    As to KQED’s replacements for TOTN, Here & Now is way too casual and happy-talk. On The Takeaway I am trying to get used to John Hockenberry’s harsh voice but he is a solid news interviewer.

  • Tony Acarasiddhi Press

    Missed it this morning but enjoying it now. Deep thanks to the guest and the host.

  • Chris OConnell

    Into the middle of 2012, I used to regularly listen to Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, the World, Marketplace, sometimes Fresh Air (i.e practically non-stop all day long). Now all that’s left is The World and Marketplace and sometimes Fresh Air. The flagship shows have become generic and sanitized. There is some good reporting there but it is getting fewer and far between.

    I’m very grateful for Forum these past 5 years. Coming from the East Coast, I had to get used to “the Kraz” (sorry Michael) but I really appreciate the show and its vibe. It’s welcoming and calm. And smart.

  • Nobody misses Neal Conan more than I do. It was such a pleasure — and such fun — working with him all those years. It was just wonderful hearing him on your show.

  • Yvonne Lovell Lawrence

    I’ll join the chorus in singing your praises Neal and can only hope that NPR will resurrect TOTN, which is dearly missed. I began listening to TOTN with young children at home and it was my lifeline to the outside world. Even after working again from home, I maintained my TOTN habit. Also missing Wednesday with Political Junkie.

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