Skip to content

Lisa Napoli

in conversation with Susan Stamberg and Linda Wertheimer

Lisa Napoli with Susan Stamberg and Linda Wertheimer

“Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR”

Lisa Napoli
with Susan Stamberg & Linda Wertheimer

discussing her book,  
“Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: 
The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR”

A group biography of four beloved women who fought sexism, covered decades of American news, and whose voices defined NPR. 
Timed to the 50th Anniversary of NPR’s first transmission and the debut of All Things Considered.

Lisa Napoli 
has had a long career in journalism, including staff reporting jobs at public radio’s Marketplace, the pioneering New York Times CyberTimes, and as a columnist/correspondent at MSNBC. She is the author, most recently, ofUp All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News. Her previous books include a biography of NPR benefactor, the McDonald’s heiress, Joan Kroc, Ray & Joan, and a memoir about media’s impact on the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, Radio Shangri-La. She lives in Los Angeles.

Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR. She 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. An NPR “founding mother,” Stamberg has been on staff since the network began in 1971. 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. One of the most popular broadcasters in public radio, Stamberg is well known for her conversational style, intelligence, and knack for finding an interesting story. Her interviewing has been called “fresh,” “friendly, down-to-earth,” and (by novelist E.L. Doctorow) “the closest thing to an enlightened humanist on the radio.” Her thousands of interviews include conversations with Laura Bush, Billy Crystal, Rosa Parks, Dave Brubeck, and Luciano Pavarotti. (more)


As NPR’s senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer travels the country and the globe for NPR News, bringing her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day’s top news stories. A respected leader in media and a beloved figure to listeners who have followed her three-decade-long NPR career, Wertheimer provides clear-eyed analysis and thoughtful reporting on all NPR News programs. Before taking the senior national correspondent post in 2002, Wertheimer spent 13 years hosting of NPR’s news magazine All Things Considered. During that time, Wertheimer helped build the afternoon news program’s audience to record levels. The show grew from six million listeners in 1989 to nearly 10 million listeners by spring of 2001, making it one of the top afternoon drive-time, news radio programs in the country. Wertheimer’s influence on All Things Considered — and, by extension, all of public radio — has been profound. She joined NPR at the network’s inception, and served as All Things Considered‘s first director starting with its debut on May 3, 1971. In the more than 40 years since, she has served NPR in a variety of roles including reporter and host. (more)

In the years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women in the workplace still found themselves relegated to secretarial positions or locked out of jobs entirely. This was especially true in the news business, a backwater of male chauvinism where a woman might be lucky to get a foothold on the “women’s pages.” But when National Public Radio came along in the 1970s, and the door to serious journalism opened a crack, four remarkable women came along and blew it off the hinges.

Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR  is a captivating account of these four women, their deep and enduring friendships, and the trails they blazed while becoming icons. Napoli utilized her deep connections in news and public radio for the extensive interviews featured throughout the pages. 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of NPR’s first transmission (April 20) and the debut of All Things Considered (May 3); there could not be a more ideal time to celebrate the women whose voices defined public radio and paved the way for all female journalists.

Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie have radically different stories. Susan Stamberg was the first woman to anchor a nightly news program and pressed for accommodations to balance work and parenting. Linda Wertheimer, the daughter of shopkeepers in New Mexico, fought her way to a scholarship and a spot on air. Nina Totenberg, the network’s legal affairs correspondent, invented a new way to cover the Supreme Court. And Cokie Roberts, born into a political dynasty, roamed the halls of Congress as a child and later helped explain Washington to millions.