Farai Chideya, host of National Public Radio's canceled "News & Notes," said on Monday she will leave the show earlier than expected because NPR decided it was "not feasible" for the California-based show to be in Washington to cover Barack Obama's historic Jan. 20 inauguration. She will be in Washington for Inauguration Week in any event, she told Journal-isms.Farai's right-hand man Tony Cox will host the show for the next couple of months until it's off air. I have nothing but great things to say about NPR, producer Devin Robins (who gave me my shot), and Cox. But Chideya's professionalism and candor will be greatly missed, not just on this show, but NPR as a whole. I'm sure she'll resurface soon in a better situation. The great ones always do.
"Today, I announced that I will end my work as host of 'News & Notes' and leave NPR on Friday, January 16," Chideya said. "As you know, 'News & Notes' was one of two shows recently cancelled, effective March 20, by NPR management as part of broader layoffs and budget cuts. While I had planned to stay with the show until its conclusion, NPR's decisions to curtail resources and cut coverage plans made me reconsider my timing."
NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher said it had been decided early in the fall, "prior to our announcement to end 'News & Notes,' to not have 'News & Notes' come out here to cover it from D.C. because of limited production space and production capacity." The show may cover the Inauguration from California, she said. Christopher added that no decision had been made on filling the host's slot for the remaining weeks.
NPR announced Dec. 10 it was canceling "News & Notes" and the midday afternoon magazine show "Day to Day" and reducing its work force by 7 percent. It said a projected $2 million deficit for fiscal 2009 had become $23 million with the downturn in the economy.
Chideya said she did not have a contract with NPR and thus was free to leave.
"News & Notes" had its origins in a collaboration in 2000 between NPR and African American affiliates, known as the African American Public Radio Consortium. The collaboration came up with the "Tavis Smiley Show," which became "News & Notes With Ed Gordon." Smiley and Gordon both left questioning NPR's commitment to a multicultural audience. Chideya, a multimedia journalist who has written three books, was substitute host for Gordon and became the principal host when Gordon left.
Best of luck, Farai.
Farai Chideya to Leave "News & Notes" Early [The Maynard Institute]