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Diane Rehm To Retire From Long-Running Radio Show

Diane Rehm will remain as host of her daily talk show through next year's presidential election.
The Washington Post/Getty Images
Diane Rehm will remain as host of her daily talk show through next year's presidential election.

Ending a run of more than 30 years on the air, talk show host Diane Rehm plans to retire, according to WAMU, the NPR member station where the show is produced in Washington, D.C.

Rehm's exit from the show will not take place immediately; she is expected to remain as its host through the 2016 presidential election. A date for her exit has not been established.

"Diane, WAMU and NPR are working together closely on what comes next, and we are in active conversations about WAMU's plans for a successor program for the public radio morning audience," WAMU General Manager J.J. Yore said in a statement about the plans.

A Peabody Award winner, Rehm's show reaches more than 2.4 million on-air listeners each week. Originating from American University, it's distributed to nearly 200 public radio stations as well as through digital networks and a podcast.

Yore added, "We are excited about the ideas we are developing and the talent we are considering. We are committed to finding a successor who will honor Diane's legacy and the qualities listeners treasure about her show — civil discourse and deep conversations about the issues of the day with listeners as part of the conversation — while also reflecting changing audience needs and habits."

Rehm, 79, began her career at WAMU as a volunteer in 1973; six years later, she took over hosting duties of its midday show, which was then called Kaleidoscope.It was renamed for its host in 1984.

For years, Rehm has hosted her show as she also fought spasmodic dysphonia, which her website describes as "a neurological voice disorder that causes strained, difficult speech." Complications and treatments for that disorder have sometimes forced her to take time off from the show.

When President Obama awarded Rehm the National Humanities Medal last year, he commended her "for illuminating the people and stories behind the headlines." The president added, "In probing interviews with everyone from pundits to poets to presidents, Ms. Rehm's keen insights and boundless curiosity have deepened our understanding of our culture and ourselves."

This year, Rehm experienced what she called "the most difficult two days of my professional life" — the aftermath of her June interview with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, in which she stated that he has dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. The host issued a correction and apologized for the mistake.

Rehm has also been in the public eye to advocate for right-to-die legislation, a movement she embraced after enduring the death of her husband, who had Parkinson's disease, in 2014. She scaled back her public role with the group Compassion & Choices after her presence at fund-raising events was questioned by NPR's ombudsman and others.

Discussing what might be next for Rehm, WAMU's Yore said she is considering many options, such as "a speaker series, a new show or podcast, and other ways of connecting with her most loyal listeners."

He added that in 2016, Rehm will also be traveling on a book tour to support her upcoming memoir, On My Own.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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