Audie Cornish Quits NPR’s All Things Considered, Her Co-Host Blasts Network for ‘Hemorrhaging Hosts from Marginalized Backgrounds’

Audie Cornish

Brad Barket/Getty Images for Vulture Festival.

Audie Cornish, the host of NPR’s popular show All Things Considered since 2012, announced in a series of tweets that she was leaving the program, and news of her departure sparked critical discussion about an “exodus” of minority talent from NPR — including from Cornish’s co-host.

Cornish wrote that she loved her job but was “ready to stretch my wings and try something new.” Leaving the well-established show was “a risk,” she acknowledged, but she “look[ed] forward to new opportunities and new ways to tell stories” and “to keep finding ways to make space and center the voices of those who have been traditionally left out.”

Cornish was born in Jamaica and moved to Massachusetts when she was a year old, growing up there and graduating from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The Washington Post noted in their report on her departure from NPR that the network had “taken pride in its efforts to diversify its ranks of on-air hosts, with the hiring of many Black and Latino journalists to lead its signature news programs…[b]ut now the public-radio giant is contending with an exodus of the very same talent.”

Other recent Black and Latino on-air personalities who had recently left NPR included Weekend All Things Considered host Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (left in September to host a podcast for the New York Times), Morning Edition host Noel King (joined Vox Media in November), and former 1A host Joshua Johnson (now at MSNBC), according to the Post.

“Some see a pattern — and a problem,” wrote the Post‘s Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi.

Cornish’s All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro would agree. Reacting to the news that his co-host was leaving, he tweeted that they had been friends for 20 years, “since long before we were cohosts or even NPR reporters,” and “[t]hat won’t change,” but her departure still “stings.”

In later tweets, Shapiro listed some other recent departures from NPR. “If NPR doesn’t see this as a crisis, I don’t know what it’ll take,” he wrote.

He concluded by tweeting that he was “on vacation and not planning on staying glued to twitter or email,” but encouraging reporters to contact NPR’s communications department “for comment on why we’re hemorrhaging hosts from marginalized backgrounds.”

NPR’s chief spokesperson Isabel Lara cited the “very competitive landscape” in media in her response to the Times’ request for comment, saying that NPR regretted losing long-standing journalists and pointing out other recent hires who were also journalists of color or women.

However, the Post interviewed other industry insiders who criticized NPR’s management for not providing enough opportunities to minority journalists, especially women, and that they weren’t leaving the public radio behemoth over issues as simple as pay:

Jenna Weiss-Berman, co-founder of the podcast company Pineapple Street Studios, has poached several people from public broadcasting, and “every single time, what they tell me is, ‘I have no creative freedom, I feel disrespected,’ ” she said.

Some have big names in the industry but work on short-term contracts; others complain they’ve been denied the opportunity to develop new programs or podcasts even when they devote their free time to it. “They’re just told ‘no’ so much when it comes to anything creative,” said Weiss-Berman, who worked in public radio for 10 years and at BuzzFeed’s audio division before starting her company. “When you’re told ‘no’ a lot, and you see another opportunity where you might be told ‘yes’ a little more, you’re going to take it.”

This article has been updated to correct a link to the Washington Post.

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media. A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law. Sarah's writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.