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Talk Show Host Diane Rehm To Retire From Public Radio Program


Diane Rehm says she's preparing to step aside. Her talk show has added to the public discourse across this country for decades. It's produced by WAMU here in Washington and heard on many, many public stations. Now she is preparing to step down. And she's on the line. Diane, good morning.

DIANE REHM: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Why go now - or next year, actually?

REHM: Well, I think at my age, which is 79 - I'll be 80 next year - and with the changing nature of broadcasting - that is the rapid pace, the crowding of segments - I think it's time for a younger generation to move in and have that two- hour slot which has been so precious to me for all these years.

INSKEEP: But you're going to stick around for a little while longer to see how the election turns out...

REHM: You bet.

INSKEEP: Something must be...

REHM: I wouldn't miss it.

INSKEEP: What about this campaign compels you?

REHM: I think that what I do is reflect back to 1988, when I was out in Iowa covering the campaign between George H. W. Bush and... Oh, my gosh. I forgot.

INSKEEP: Oh, Michael Dukakis.

REHM: Yes, Michael Dukakis - and the civility with which I visited homes in Iowa and the manner in which they spoke - what's happening now strikes me as something bizarre. People are appealed to in the most fundamental, irrational terms rather than through persuasion, through discourse, through understanding key points. I want to help continue that rational discussion through the next campaign. And then I'll be working for UsAgainstAlzheimer's. I'll be working for people who want aid in dying. I'll be working to help find a cure for Parkinson's. I'll be doing all kinds of things and, perhaps, beginning a podcast for WAMU - doing all kinds of things.

INSKEEP: All right. Well, you've got about 30 seconds here. I want to ask a follow-up question on that. There is a difference in the public discourse.

REHM: You bet.

INSKEEP: But there's also a lot more information available today than there was when you started on that talk show.

REHM: A lot more information.

INSKEEP: It could be siloed and partisan information, but it's out there. Having listened to so many callers, in about 30 seconds, do you sense the public is in some ways any better-informed than it was?

REHM: Absolutely not. I really think that coming in such small snippets and coming at the tops of people's lungs, what happens is that they hear the emotion. And they don't hear the facts. And I'm wanting to provide the facts throughout this election.

INSKEEP: Well, Diane Rehm, thanks for your service over the years. And we'll be listening in the months ahead - really appreciate it.

REHM: Thank you so much, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's Diane Rehm of WAMU's nationally distributed "Diane Rehm Show," which will end under that title next year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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