About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual panel discussion led by Lisa Napoli, author of Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR.

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One of the “Founding Mothers” of today’s book is, sadly, not with us. Cokie Roberts, who died in September 2019, joined National Public Radio in 1978 and spent more than 40 years in broadcasting. As a political commentator for ABC News and NPR, she won countless awards. She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting.

Cokie was a long-time member of our National Archives Foundation Board who worked tirelessly on behalf of our education and outreach activities. Over 10 years together, Cokie and I often found ourselves in the Rotunda of the National Archives, where the conversation turned to the Barry Faulkner murals depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Cokie ALWAYS bemoaned the fact that there were no women depicted.

Her wise counsel, intelligence, passion for the role of women in our society, and wit will be missed—but never forgotten.

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Today’s author, Lisa Napoli, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Early in the rise of the World Wide Web, she covered the intersection of technology and culture at the New York Times CyberTimes, on MSNBC, and for public radio’s Marketplace.

A chance to help start a radio station in the Kingdom of Bhutan led to her first book, Radio Shangri-la: What I Learned on My Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Her biography of 20th-century philanthropist Joan Kroc is titled Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave it All Away. Her third book is Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Making of 24-Hour News.


I am very pleased and honored to welcome our three special guests: Susan Stamberg, Nina Totenberg, and Linda Wertheimer—with Cokie Roberts, the four “Founding Mothers” of the book’s title.

Susan Stamberg, who has been with NPR since the network began in 1971, is the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program and has won every major award in broadcasting. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame.

Beginning in 1972, Stamberg served as co-host of NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered for 14 years. She then hosted Weekend Edition Sunday, and now reports on cultural issues for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday.

Stamberg is well known for her conversational style, intelligence, and knack for finding an interesting story. Her thousands of interviews include conversations with Laura Bush, Billy Crystal, Rosa Parks, Dave Brubeck, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Stamberg is the author of two books: Every Night at Five: Susan Stamberg's All Things Considered Book and Talk: NPR's Susan Stamberg Considers All Things. Stamberg also co-edited The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road, which grew out of a series of stories Stamberg commissioned for Weekend Edition Sunday.

Her professional recognitions include the Armstrong and duPont Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Ohio State University's Golden Anniversary Director's Award, and the Distinguished Broadcaster Award from the American Women in Radio and Television.


Nina Totenberg is NPR's legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Totenberg's coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has won her widespread recognition. As Newsweek put it, "The mainstays [of NPR] are Morning Edition and All Things Considered. But the crème de la crème is Nina Totenberg."

In 1991, NPR’s coverage—anchored by Totenberg—of Judge Clarence Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearings and the allegations by Anita Hill received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.

Totenberg was named Broadcaster of the Year and honored with the 1998 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the National Press Foundation—the first radio journalist to receive the award. She also received the American Judicature Society's first award honoring a career body of work in the field of journalism and the law.

Totenberg has been honored seven times by the American Bar Association for continued excellence in legal reporting and has received more than two dozen honorary degrees. On a lighter note, Esquire magazine twice named her one of the "Women We Love."

A frequent contributor on TV shows, she has also written for major newspapers and periodicals—among them, the New York Times Magazine, the Harvard Law Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and New York Magazine, and others.


As NPR's senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer brings her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day's top news stories.

In the more than 40 years since she first joined NPR, she has served in a variety of roles, including reporter and host of All Things Considered for 13 years.

From 1974 to 1989, Wertheimer provided highly praised coverage of national politics and Congress, serving as congressional and then national political correspondent. Wertheimer covered four Presidential and eight congressional elections for NPR, and in 1976 became the first woman to anchor network coverage of a Presidential nomination convention and of election night.

Wertheimer is the first person to broadcast live from inside the United States Senate chamber, and her 37-day coverage of the Senate Panama Canal Treaty debates won her a special Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award.

Wertheimer has received numerous other journalism awards, including awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for anchoring The Iran-Contra Affair: A Special Report, from American Women in Radio/TV for her story “Illegal Abortion,” and from the American Legion for NPR's coverage of the Panama Treaty debates.

Her 1995 book, Listening to America: Twenty-five Years in the Life of a Nation as Heard on National Public Radio, celebrates NPR's history.


Thank you for joining us today. Now let’s hear from the panel.