Entries in NPR (9)


'Car Talk' to End After 35 Years

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's the end of the road for "Car Talk." After 35 years on the air, Click and Clack have run out of gas, and will stop taping new shows this fall.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi have hosted NPR's most popular show for decades, but the brothers say it's "time to stop and smell the cappuccino."

The mechanic brothers started their auto advice show in Boston in 1977, and have been dishing out car tips and jokes every Saturday morning on NPR since 1987.

"We've managed to avoid getting thrown off NPR for 25 years, giving tens of thousands of wrong answers and had a hell of a time every week talking to callers," Ray said.

The Magliozzis created a niche for themselves on the radio that didn't exist before -- combining call-in comedy and cars -- and showed that public talk radio didn't have to be stuffy. It proved to be a working formula, and "Car Talk" is now on 660 stations across the country, with some 3.3 million listeners a week.

Ray, 63, and Tom, 74, answer questions from listeners about cars, and so much more, with their signature humor and Boston accents, cementing their status as unlikely comic icons.

"The guys are culturally right up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers," said Doug Berman, executive producer of "Car Talk." "They will stand the test of time. People will still be enjoying them years from now. They're that good."

The show isn't completely disappearing though. The brothers will celebrate their 25th anniversary on NPR this fall, and then hand the show over to producers, who will use saved but unaired calls to continue to produce the show.

"The good news is that, despite our general incompetence, we actually remembered to hit the 'record' button every week for the last 25 years," Tom said.

Years and years worth of those calls have been stored, some 12,500 calls, and rated in order of entertainment value. Those calls will be repurposed into new shows until they run out of new material. Berman, whom the brothers would identify on air as Doug "Not-a-Slave-to-Fashion" Berman, said they might have enough to go for another eight years without the show having to repeat itself.

A goodbye message on their website, titled "Time to Get Even Lazier," says despite a personal mantra of "Don't be afraid of work, make work afraid of you," they've decided they can't commit to the show any longer.

"My brother has always been 'work-averse,'" Ray said. "Now, apparently even the one hour a week is killing him."

In a statement, NPR says the "guys will also still write their twice weekly Dear Tom and Ray column, and put their feet in their mouths in surprising new ways on the web and Facebook."

In their goodbye note, Tom shared what he hopes will be the "Car Talk" legacy.

"We're hoping to be like 'I Love Lucy' and air ten times a day on 'NPR at Nite' in 2075."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Passes Bill Stripping Federal Funding for NPR

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a largely symbolic move, the House Thursday voted to block all federal funding for NPR, a week after the embattled public radio station found itself the subject of a conservative activist's sting that led to the ouster of its chief executive.

The bill passed by a 228-192 vote. No Democrats voted for it, and only seven Republicans voted against the measure.

The bill would permanently block all federal funding to NPR and its affiliates and prohibits stations from using federal funds to pay NPR dues and to purchase programming. It would basically bar NPR from applying for grants provided by federal agencies such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Department of Education, Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The House GOP continuing resolution that would fund the government for the remainder of the year already rescinds funding for the CPB, which also funds Public Broadcasting Service, and zeroes out millions in funds after that.

The vote is largely symbolic because it's unlikely to pass in the Senate or be signed by President Obama. But after the release of the controversial tape last week, in which former NPR executive Ron Schiller was caught blasting Republicans and the Tea Party with two members of a fictitious Muslim group, Republicans have seized on public broadcasting funding even more.

Schiller also said NPR and most of its member stations would survive without federal funding.

"We saw... on video, executives at NPR saying that they don't need taxpayer dollars," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Thursday. "We are also in the process of making sure that Washington begins to do what every American family and small businessperson is having to do right now. It's called tightening the belt."

The White House Thursday released a statement strongly opposing the bill but did not issue a veto threat.

Democrats charge that Republicans are playing politics at a time when lawmakers should be focused on the economy and jobs, with one member of Congress calling it a "political stunt."

"This bill is a distraction, not a serious piece of legislation," Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said, calling it a "frivolous measure."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Video Suggests NPR Considered Accepting Bogus Donation

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just a day after CEO Vivian Schiller resigned because of a leaked video that featured an NPR fundraiser denigrating Republicans and Tea Party members, a new recording released Thursday apparently shows that the news organization was ready to accept a $5 million check from a phony group linking itself to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Conservative activist James O'Keefe, who made the secret tape, says that a man posing as a representative from a group called the Muslim Education Action Center had a conversation with NPR’s senior director of institutional giving, Betsy Liley, in which she advised the group to make the contribution anonymously so as to avoid a government audit.

When further pressed about it, Liley tells a man identifying himself as Ibrahim Kasaam that since the IRS occasionally audits NPR's programs, "you might want to be an anonymous donor.  And, we would certainly, if that was your interest, want to shield you from that."

Responding to this latest accusation of possible impropriety, NPR released a series of e-mails that apparently reveal that it had at no time seriously considered the bogus $5 million from "the fraudulent organization."

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told the website TPM that the agreement "never got beyond the internal drafting stage -- and was never sent.  Period."

Before resigning, Vivian Schiller wrote to Betsy Liley that the Muslim Education Action Center was acting oddly and that she wouldn’t take the money without more information, including data about the group that would need to be provided to the IRS.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NPR CEO Resigns After Hidden Camera Sting Snares Top Fundraiser

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The embattled CEO of National Public Radio resigned Wednesday after the top fundraiser for NPR said offensive things about Republicans and the Tea Party during an undercover sting orchestrated by conservative "citizen-journalist" James O'Keefe.

Vivian Schiller, the ousted CEO, had also been criticized for NPR's firing of commentator Juan Williams last October.  But the controversial comments of Ron Schiller, NPR's top fundraiser, came during what he thought was a lunch with potential donors from a Muslim-affiliated trust.

"The Board accepted Vivian's resignation with understanding, genuine regret and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years," said NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards in a written statement.  NPR broke into its Morning Edition program so that its media correspondent David Folkenflik could report the news.

The sting was a secretly recorded lunch at a Georgetown restaurant.  In edited video released by O'Keefe on his Project Veritas website, Schiller is seen calling the Tea Party the "xenophobic," "seriously racist people," who are "fanatically involved in people's personal lives." He also claimed liberals are more educated than their conservative counterparts -- and potentially most damaging -- that NPR would be "better off" without federal funding.

The controversy comes at a delicate time for public broadcasting, including PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which got a nearly $450 million in federal funding last year.  President Obama proposed raising that amount to $451 million.  But with the federal government facing severe budget deficits, Tea Party groups and some Republicans on Capitol Hill seized upon Mr. Schiller's comments as an opportunity to advocate for cutting all federal funding to NPR.

NPR's Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, Joyce Slocum, will take over as interim CEO.

Ron Schiller, who was already scheduled to leave NPR in May, instead left Tuesday.  He apologized for the comments he made blasting Republicans and the Tea Party.

"While the meeting I participated in turned out to be a ruse, I made statements during the course of the meeting that are counter to NPR's values and also not reflective of my own beliefs," he said in a statement Tuesday. "I offer my sincere apology to those I offended."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


After Juan Williams Firing, NPR Denies Bonus to CEO Vivian Schiller

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- NPR announced Thursday that a senior executive involved with the controversial firing of commentator Juan Williams has resigned and that the company's president will not receive a 2010 bonus.

The NPR board of directors concluded, following an internal review, that Williams' termination did not violate the terms of his contract.

But the board expressed "concern" over CEO Vivian Schiller's role in the incident and opted not to give her a year-end bonus, according to a statement released by NPR. The network's ombudsman had previously said the firing was "poorly handled."

The non-profit news organization, which is supported by financial contributions from listeners and local stations and also by federal subsidies, also announced that Ellen Weiss, senior vice president for news, had resigned, but did not provide further explanation.

Williams was fired in November after saying during an appearance on Fox News Channel that seeing Muslims on planes make him "nervous."

His ouster stirred a backlash across the political spectrum, with liberals, conservatives and veteran journalists chastising NPR for his dismissal. Some lawmakers have even called for Congress to cut off federal funding for NPR.

Williams, who now works full-time for Fox News Channel, told ABC News after his firing that he believed it was "vindictive" and the result of a personal and politically motivated vendetta.

NPR said William's comment conflicted with its commitment to unbiased reporting.

Williams declined to participate in NPR's internal review of the incident, according to the statement. The board also mandated a review of the organization's ethics code and management procedures for disciplinary action.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NPR CEO: 'Deeply Regret' How I Handled Juan Williams Dismissal

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- NPR’s CEO has apologized to her employees for comments she made after the company fired news analyst Juan Williams.

Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, said that Williams – who said in an appearance on Fox News that he gets “nervous” when he sees Muslims on airplanes – should have kept his comments “between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist.”

“I stand by my decision to end NPR's relationship with Juan,” Schiller said in an e-mail to colleagues, “but deeply regret the way I handled and explained it.”

Williams told ABC News in an exclusive interview that his dismissal was the result of a personal and politically motivated vendetta which the veteran newsman described as "vindictive."

Conservative leaders have called to cut NPR's funding.

Fox News hired Williams full-time upon his termination from NPR.

Williams has not apologized for his remarks, insisting that they were part of a longer conversation that his bosses took out of context.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Juan Williams Fires Back at NPR Over Firing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Juan Williams, who was fired from his job at NPR after comments he made on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor this week regarding Muslims, fired back at the radio station on Friday while guest hosting The O'Reilly Factor.

"My comments about my feelings supposedly crossed this line, some line, somewhere. That crossed the line?" Williams said. "Let me tell you what you can say on National Public Radio without losing your job."

He then mentioned Nina Totenberg's comments on NPR in 1995, when she stated that if there were "retributive justice," former Republican North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms or one of his grandchildren will get AIDS from a transfusion.

Conservative leaders including Sarah Palin have called to cut off NPR's funding in the wake of the controversy. According to NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm, NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller has stated that management was standing by its decision to fire Williams. Since his termination, Williams has been hired full-time at Fox News in a reported $2 million, three year deal.

Williams told ABC News in an exclusive interview Friday that his firing, for saying Muslims on planes make him "nervous," was the result of a personal and politically motivated vendetta which the veteran newsman described as "vindictive."

Williams hasn't apologized for his remarks, insisting instead they were part of a longer conversation his NPR bosses took out of context.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Republicans Push to Defund NPR in Wake of Williams' Firing

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Congressional Republicans Friday pounced on NPR’s firing of Juan Williams in an attempt to end federal funding for the radio network.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, is planning to introduce legislation that seeks to do just that.  And over in the lower chamber, Republican Whip Eric Cantor said House GOP’ers will also try to terminate funding for NPR, denouncing the “over-reaching political correctness” in the network’s “rash decision.”

“Whether it’s people walking off The View when Bill O’Reilly makes a statement about radical Islam or Juan Williams being fired for expressing his opinion, over-reaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression.  NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams not only undermines that, it shows an ignorance of the fact that radical Islam and the terrorists who murder in its name scare people of all faiths, religions, and beliefs,” Cantor said in a statement this morning.

“In light of their rash decision, we will include termination of federal funding for NPR as an option in the YouCut program so that Americans can let it be known whether they want their dollars going to that organization,” he said.

The House Republicans’ YouCut program allows the public to vote online for the spending programs they want to cut. Defunding NPR though, would only scrap a small portion of NPR’s total annual budget, since the network receives the bulk of its funds from private sources.

Williams was fired this week by NPR after telling FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly that he feels “worried” and “nervous” when he sees “people who are in Muslim garb” on a plane.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Juan Williams: NPR Was 'Looking For a Reason to Get Rid of Me'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Juan Williams was not surprised that NPR fired him this week and says that the company had been looking for a way to get him off the air.

“I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me,” Williams told ABC News. “That they were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity.”

NPR fired Williams after he said in an appearance on Fox News that he gets nervous when traveling and sees “people who are dressed in Muslim garb and I think they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims.”

“I knew about their antagonism towards Fox,” Williams said. “I knew that they really didn’t like it, and as I said I have been there more than 10 years and I have seen managers come and go and who dealt with this issue.”

Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, said that Williams’ comments should have been “between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist” but she later apologized for the remark.

“I don’t understand why she has to get that low. You know she has an argument to make that I somehow violated some journalistic ethics that were values of NPR, make the case,” Williams told ABC News. “I think it is a very weak case.”

Williams, who just got a $2 million deal for three years with Fox News, said it is making him rethink his previous beliefs about the left wing.

“I’ve always thought the right wing were ones that were inflexible and intolerant and now I’m coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, its representing the left,” he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio