Filed Under:

Robert Conley, First Host Of 'All Things Considered,' Dies

Play associated audio

Robert Conley, the first host of NPR's All Things Considered, died over the weekend.

It was Conley who on May 3, 1971, set the tone for NPR's flagship newsmagazine. As one of the show's current hosts Robert Siegel explains, Conley established that the program would be different.

To begin that first broadcast, for example, Conley launched into an unscripted, five-minute riff that introduced a 23-minute piece covering a massive anti-war protest in Washington.

NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg, who was a producer in 1971, shared this remembrance of Conley:

"Bob was a seasoned newsman with a deep-barreled voice that was made for radio. But he didn't much like some of radio's requirements — like working within the program's time constraints. So he ad-libbed his introductions to reporters' pieces, rather than reading from a pre-timed script. He was marvelously articulate but drove the director crazy when his ad-libbing put a news segment into overtime.

"His writing was superb. I remember, 40-plus years later, his description of the status of Vietnam peace talks in Paris: "Trying to follow the Paris negotiations is like trying to keep track of a kitten, playing under a rug."

"Robert Conley didn't always broadcast with stopwatch precision, but he made a grander contribution. He got us off to a start, and helped put in place the radio program you listen to now."

Conley came to NPR after stints at NBC News and The New York Times, where he served as a correspondent and bureau chief in places including London, Rome, the Middle East and Africa.

Conley died Saturday surrounded by his family at his home in Virginia.

He was 85 years old.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Sweet Name Of Kids' Clinic Gives Some People Heartburn

The Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic gets its name from a student-run charity race in Raleigh, N.C., that has already raised $1 million for kids. Still, some find the name unhealthy.

Americans Don't Disagree On Politics As Much As You Might Think

Everyone knows that distrust of Washington is at near-record levels and that Congress has grown more polarized. But what's going on with American voters is more complicated than you may realize.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.