NPR’s ‘ATC’ gets gay co-host

arishapiroHe wasn’t supposed to start until September, so I was surprised yesterday when Ari Shapiro began as one of the three co-hosts of All Things Considered, the most-listened-to radio news program in the country, which airs on Dallas’ NPR affiliate, KERA 90.1 FM, from 4–7:30 p.m. daily. Shapiro replaced Melissa Block, who stepped down after 12 years alongside Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish.

The reason we care, other than being addicted to National Public Radio, is that Shapiro is openly gay — the first out host of the flagship program that we know of. It’s not like gays are rare on NPR, either nationally or locally, but this seems significant to us. Why? Well, if we didn’t believe that being a “gay journalist” was different than be a “journalist,” we wouldn’t work for a gay media company. And being out is important — it brings a perspective and challenges politicos and pundits to think about their words … or get caught up in what they say afterwards. We might bristle if someone says “the homosexual lifestyle” where even a progressive wouldn’t … and we might then hold their feet to the fire. (Compare, for instance, Diane Rehm, who routinely fails to invite openly gay journalists to her Friday News Roundup shows, even as she discusses gay issues … imagine if she had only men talking about women’s rights or only whites discussing race issues week after week.)

So I say “yea!” for Shapiro, who’s been a great London correspondent for years. He might put the “all” into All Things Considered.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

KERA 90.1 FM changes lineup (and not for the better)

Citing a “continued mission to serve its diverse audience,” KERA is screwing up its lineup, beginning Nov. 12. That’s next Monday.

First off, Morning Edition will now begin airing at 4 a.m., because nothing says “diversity” quite like five hours of one show (repeated every two hours), five days at a time.

The next major change is bumping Fresh Air with Terry Gross from 11 a.m. (with an encore at 8 p.m.) to 3 p.m. I don’t know about you, but I need the salve of Gross’ chipper coo to heal the scratches caused from listening to Diane Rehm blowing smoke up author’s asses from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (I usually like the first hard new hour of Rehm.) Gross’ show, while not live, was a great entree to the lunch hour, and it often has fairly timely items that lead me into my day. It’ll now move to 3 p.m. and the encore is being dropped.

Fresh Air will be replaced by The Takeaway, new to our market, so I don’t know much about it. John Hockenberry is the host; he’s pretty good, but really? Moving Terry? We will have to wait and see.

Tell Me More with Michele Martin was on midday for a few years; I never really cared for it. It may work better at 8 p.m., when I’m rarely listening anyway, though I liked re-catching Terry at night if I missed a segment in the morning.

Think with Krys Boyd remains, from noon to 2, as does The World right after … another show that doesn’t really tickle my fancy. (How about a good program that targets the gay community? I can find the time if I have to…) Then Gross takes her new home at 3 — not a terrible spot, but irksome because it displaces a time she’s enjoyed for ages, and postpones All Things Considered until 4. ATC was on at 4 recently, and the early start time was good because it meant I didn’t have to stay in the car until 6 p.m. to get my daily news wrap-up; now I guess I will.

Then late at night, we go into five hours of BBC programming, because nothing puts the National in National Public Radio like news from another nation.

You can see the new lineup here. Ugh.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones