BOB EDWARDS ATTENDED college during the tumultuous 1960s, the politically-charged era when young people took to the streets and called for change.
"I wanted to be a part of the events but not a participant," Edwards said in class yesterday.
So after serving in the military, he embarked on a radio career that landed him in the radio hall of fame. After 30 years at NPR, he now does his daily interview show on Sirius XM satellite radio, which reaches more than 20 million subscribers.
His passion for radio actually began when he was only 3, as a child in Kentucky listening to radio stations from far off places like Cincinnati.
As a young professional journalist, he mimicked his radio heroes like Edward R. Murrow.
"In my early days at NPR," Edwards said, "I sound like I'm sitting on an object."
A colleague told him to loosen up, to just be himself.
While he honed his presentation style, he continued to believe in Murrow's methods - investigate stories, understand them, reach conclusions and present that educated analysis to the audience with accuracy and fairness, but not necessarily with balance.
"Balance means that a liar gets the same amount of air time as a truth-sayer," Edwards said.
Here are a few other things that stood out to me from his visit:
• "The MOST IMPORTANT thing in any form of journalism is writing," he said.
• He prefers the Associated Press' style of detachment in journalism, rather than the opinionated information that is becoming popular today. "What do you learn by consistently going to someone with the same point of view as yours?" Edwards asked. "There are no surprises. I don't learn anything."
• Edwards does not have an angle. He says he would not be accepted by the liberals or conservatives.
• On his program, he can cover anything he wants (as opposed to his NPR days when he focused on topics in the news).
• He's a big fan of the Daily Show, Stephen Colbert and The Onion.
• He says it's important to recognize that they are not news. At the end of the day, those outlets are going for ratings. "They are doing it for laughs, not news," Edwards pointed out.
• He said the difference between reporters and bloggers is that reporters make phone calls (to verify information) whereas bloggers make conclusions (not necessarily based upon facts).
• Edwards chooses his story subjects based upon his interests. "I like to learn things," he said. "I don't have to do the news. I do what needs to be enlightened upon, what needs to be illuminated."
• He does massive amounts of preparation for every interview.
• There will always a future for radio, as radio keeps reinventing itself.
• He said that you should make contacts, do internships and hang out at outlets you aspire to work for. "There's no substitute for meeting people," he said.
What stood out for you?
(Big thanks to Windsor Johnston, news director at WRTI, for setting up the visit and leading the discussion.)
8 months ago