Remembering Daniel Schorr




In the 25 years that Dan spent at NPR, as news organizations became more invested in style, zip, and flash, Dan's work testified to the value of age, experience, and perspective. He was not flashy. His insights were not "wisdom beyond his years," but exactly the wisdom of his years. When he talked about the housing crisis and economic collapse, it was with the knowledge of someone who had lived through the Great Depression. When he offered analysis on the Russian spies recently arrested in New Jersey, it was from the perspective of a man who had chronicled the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

The last time I filled in as a guest host on Weekend Edition, I began the “Week in Review” segment by telling Dan what a pleasure it was to be on his program. He said, “Welcome aboard.” It was days before President Obama’s inauguration, and Dan told stories of memorable inaugurations past: 1961, when army flamethrowers cleared eight inches of snow off Pennsylvania Avenue for President Kennedy’s parade; President Reagan’s second inauguration, when it was so cold that the parade was cancelled; Dan remembered President Truman, who was the first to deliver his inaugural address on television; “and then my old friend Richard Nixon,” he said, “who took the oath on not one but two bibles.” As Dan put it, “I don’t think it helped.” (Dan may not have been flashy, but at 93 his wit was still quicker than mine.)

A few days before that Weekend Edition broadcast, I was sitting in Dan’s office planning his segment when the show’s executive producer, Davar Iran Ardalan, stuck her head in the door.

“Dan, I want to talk with you about a new series we’re working on,” Davar said. “It’s called ‘The Ninth Inning,’ and we want to include you.”

Dan raised an eyebrow.

She continued, undaunted. “It will be a series of reflections by people who are in the ninth inning of their lives, looking back on what they’ve learned and experienced.”

In the sonorous, wise voice that I and millions of others had grown up with, Dan calmly asked, “And why do you wish to include me? Are you suggesting that I have reached the end of my game?”

In that moment, it was easy for me to imagine that Dan, already in his '90s, would continue reporting for another 25 years. 

Tags: Media