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Former NPR Host Bob Edwards To Be XM's New Morning Star

Edwards -- who will be working with former NPR producer Mark Schramm -- is still in the early stages of developing the show's format.

"It'll be loose," he said. "It'll be long interviews, short interviews, and then maybe departments. . . . You've got to have the news . . . it's not going to be all features, yet it's not going to be the Financial Times, either."

Bob Edwards samples his new morning perch at XM Satellite Radio's facilities in Northeast Washington. (John Harrington)

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Panero hopes the show will anchor a still-developing lineup of programming, some of it created by XM and some coming from public-radio providers, including Public Radio International, American Public Media (an arm of Minnesota Public Radio) and WBUR in Boston. NPR has an exclusive distribution agreement with Sirius, the other major satellite radio network, whose subscription base is a fraction of XM's.

The people at XM "get radio," Edwards said. "They're excited about it. They remember how it was and they want to go off in new directions and be part of radio's future. With all those channels, you can do both, of course, and that's exciting."

Edwards was in Austin yesterday at a public radio convention, where he was winding up the publicity tour for his book on Edward R. Murrow and preparing to receive an award for his longtime fundraising efforts for public radio. Throughout that book tour, he said, he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he received from listeners, who also sent him mountains of mail in his final days on "Morning Edition." Edwards and many listeners were upset by the abruptness of the decision, the suggestion that he was too old, and his not being allowed to remain in the job a few more months until his 25th anniversary as host of "Morning Edition."

"People in book lines will walk up to me, hand me a book, open their mouth to speak and just bawl," he said. "It's emotional. People, they've heard about my dog and brought presents for my dog. . . . I tell you, public radio listeners are something."

Panero was one of those listeners, a self-described fan who saw in Edwards's demotion an opportunity that dovetailed with what he and his staff are trying to develop at XM.

"A lot of fans have shown their devotion to Bob Edwards in a lot of different ways," Panero said, noting the 35,000 e-mails NPR received in protest. "As a CEO and president of a radio network, I have some other options at my disposal."

Edwards only recently made his decision, after months of mulling various opportunities. And although it's clear he's displeased with how his career ended at NPR, he says he's ready to move on.

"It's been a couple of months, and I've turned it over in my head again and again," he said. "I think I was pretty sure all along. Which is not to say that it was an easy thing to do at all. Thirty years, for heaven's sake. That's kind of bittersweet.

"I'm sad," he continued, "and yet very happy at the same time. I thought until March that I would retire from there, or maybe even die there. I had no notion of being anywhere else. I'm a loyal guy. But here's an opportunity, and I think I ought to take it."

Besides, he said, the new job won't get him out of bed at 1 a.m. And he barely has to alter his commute.

"It's not terribly far from NPR," Edwards said of XM's Northeast Washington headquarters. "I know the way. And they're very nice to me."

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