by mat schaffer | September 10, 2012 | People
A Considered approach: Audie Cornish in studio at NPR.
National Public Radio listeners may have noticed a new voice—pleasantly deep, warm, and friendly, with an ever-so-slight rasp—streaming across the airwaves every weekday evening. It belongs to Audie Cornish, temporary host of NPR’s long-running, award-winning show All Things Considered. In January, Cornish joined Robert Siegel and Melissa Block behind the anchor desk as the yearlong replacement for Michelle Norris, who has stepped away while her husband works for the Obama re-election campaign.
For the uninitiated, All Things Considered is a powerhouse of the terrestrial radio dial, reaching 12 million people weekly. When Cornish heard the program’s iconic theme music through her headphones that first day on the job, she admits it was a rush. “Like everyone else, I’m a fan, and I’ve been hearing that music for years now,” she says. But Cornish wasn’t all that intimidated by the program’s substantial audience. “The thing people forget is that we’re in a studio,” she says. “I feel like I’m only talking to one or two people because I am. And when it comes out of the radio, it feels like we’re talking directly to you.”
The thirtysomething Cornish (she won’t disclose her exact age) was raised in Boston and nearby Randolph. As a student at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she studied journalism, she did volunteer work at the campus radio station and later landed an internship with New England Public Radio. After graduating in 2001, Cornish moved back to Boston, where she worked at public radio station WBUR, reporting on stories like Massachusetts’s legalization of gay marriage. That eventually opened the door to NPR, for which she covered the American South and reported on the financial crisis and subsequent Wall Street reform legislation from Capitol Hill. In May 2011, Cornish was tapped as host of Weekend Edition Sunday; six months later, her rise continued with the move to All Things Considered.
Give Cornish a politician, any politician, to interview, and the self-described news junkie will lick her chops in anticipation. But she finds interviewing creative types—artists, actors, musicians—to be more difficult. Lionel Ritchie turned out to be “incredibly thoughtful,” but Cornish was flummoxed by rock duo The Black Keys. “I just felt like such a nerd talking to them, and I think they obviously thought I was,” she chuckles.
Nerd factor aside, Cornish, who is married to freelance journalist Theo Emery, says her new post is always stimulating and, in many ways, encompasses her hobbies. “You’re reading books; you are catching up on the craziest Internet meme that’s out there and trying to figure out what this says about the culture,” she says. “When I was a reporter, I did all these things for fun. Now a lot of the things I did for fun are part of my job.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ABBY GREENAWALT