Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bob Edwards' ouster as anchor of Morning Edition provides more evidence that regardless of how consistently good you are you will eventually be cast aside.

This is true of every role you will play throughout your life.

I'm trying to be factual, not fatalistic. I swear.

So the question is, why work so hard to be consistently good? All that effort and the payoff is a perfunctory nod and a call if your replacement needs to know where you hid the good three hole paper punch.

Our parents will tell us any job worth doing is worth doing to the best of your ability. That Midwestern work ethic is the cause of many ambulance rides from office buildings all over these parts. I'm not saying that we don't have the capacity to shirk responsibility or do a half-assed job (you should see my basement) but we always feel guilty about it. You can't shake it. It's somehow hard wired into our brains.

Bob is from Kentucky so his Southern version of this work ethic got him out of bed in the wee hours, dragged his butt to a studio to do his level best to deliver information to us better than just about any other source available. He did this for 25 years and then NPR's programming and news management decided that was enough. Laura Gross said NPR made the change as "part of a natural evolution," she said. "A new host will bring new ideas and perspectives to the show. Bob's voice will still be heard; he'll still be a tremendous influence on the show. We just felt it was time for a change."

That doesn't make me feel any better. But if I was Jay Kernis, NPR's Vice President of Programming, would I have dumped Bob? Well, more than likely, yes. After all, it's part of a natural evolution and if I didn't shake things up then someone would have naturally evolved me out of a job instead of Bob. Would I have let Bob stick around for the 25th anniversary of Morning Edition? Well, more than likely, no. Introducing Bob's replacement right after you celebrate Bob's achievements would make for a really awkward transition.

Just because I understand it, doesn't mean I like it. I'll miss Bob Edwards. Just like I miss Johnny Carson and Mr. Rogers (er, not like Mr. Rogers because he's dead and that brings up an entirely different set of sentiments).

On April 30 my clock/radio will go off and I'll hear Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne instead of Bob and I'll think I'm getting old and I'll be replaced soon too. And I'll wonder why I bother to drag my butt out of bed and drive myself to work knowing that sooner than I would have ever imagined I'll be asked to go away.

I'll understand it. But I won't like it. And when I get the call about the three hole paper punch I'll say, "It's here with me at home now. If you want it, you'll have to come and get it. But you should know, I've already planned for this by shopping at the army surplus store and I've got enough dehydrated food and chemical toilets to last at least three months. You may eventually get the three hole paper punch but you're really going to have to work for it."

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