'Weekend All Things Considered': A Grateful Farewell

Programs go on, participants change.

I've never worked for National Public Radio, but over the years I have enjoyed and highly valued being part of programs there. Through the 1980s and 1990s I did regular commentaries -- first from Japan and Malaysia, then from Washington -- for Morning Edition. Through the past four years, wherever I've been, on most Saturday afternoons I've had a discuss-the-news segment with the host of Weekend All Things Considered. Until late last year, that was Guy Raz, who is now host of the new TED Radio Hour. For most of this year, it's been Jacki Lyden, who has been the mainstay substitute host as the program has prepared for its imminent move from Washington to Los Angeles and has searched for and recently selected its new permanent host, Arun Rath. 

Just now, I've had my wistful last talk of the current WATC era with Jacki Lyden. A new host bringing a show into a new era in a new location deserves to choose rather than inherit major components of the show's lineup. So I agreed months ago with the WATC producers that when they'd chosen a new host and were ready to move to LA, I'd say goodbye. And starting next week, I'll be launching the "American Futures" project with a different public radio partner, the Marketplace show. 

As Jacki Lyden said when we talked, we've come to the "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" moment. As I told her in reply, my only regret about our respective new paths -- WATC's, and mine -- is that I would very much miss talking with her and her colleagues on- and off-air, reaching their audience, and being part of this part of the public radio tradition. It is very difficult to imagine how different the American journalistic and intellectual landscape would be without what public radio brings every day.

I've worked with a lot of people at WATC over the years, many of whom fortunately were able to gather at our house last night. In particular I owe thanks to Guy Raz and Matt Martinez, who originally brought me to the show; Rick Holter and Phil Harrell; Muthoni Muturi and Steve Lickteig; and Jacki Lyden.

Programs go on; I wish the best to Arun Rath and his / my colleagues; I'll keep listening to their shows, as I start this new project of my own. And I thank them for these four years. 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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