Yesterday was the last broadcast of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen. Liane has been with NPR for 35 years and host of WESUN for over 20, so no one will begrudge her retiring. Yet it's a little sad to see her go.
I've been listening to WESUN regularly since 1999, and since I installed a client in my computer to record off the radio, I haven't missed a single program in ages (circa 2003). Liane has introduced me to hundreds of newsmakers, entertainers, analysts and other notables. Organizing my Sunday morning around the 7:00-9:00 AM block has kept me informed, entertained and well rounded for over a decade.
My first real memory of Weekend Edition Sunday, of course, had to do with listening to the Sunday puzzle and enjoying it so much I sought out the program the next week. And the next. And the next. The Sunday puzzle is run by Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword editor. I, and several million regular WESUN listeners got to know Will before he got all famous starting it 2005 or so. The genuine friendship between Liane and Will comes across on the radio. Will's puzzle segment will be continuing post Liane.
It was a Sunday puzzle where I first heard the name Britney Spears (What entertainer's name can be anagrammed "Presbyterian?"). Being well rounded doesn't necessarily mean having one's finger on the pulse of pop culture, don't ya know, as Britney had been around for several years prior to that puzzle. Ironically, it was fill-in host Lynn Neary who had the biggest influence on my musical world when she interviewed singer Sarah Shannon in April, 2002. I immediately fell in love with her voice and still listen to Sarah as often as I can. Hey, a song of hers just popped up on my random playlist as I wrote this.
Liane Hansen has been that friendly voice on the other side of the radio for over a decade but a lifetime ago, I used to be a person inside the radio. I know my impression of her is not reflective of reality - people are never exactly who they appear to be in the media - but it's hard not to get attached to someone whom you bring into your home week after week, is very professional and just so nice. So off to retirement Liane, whoever you really are. I have enjoyed having you in my life for the past twelve years.
Liane will be replaced on a permanent basis by Audie Cornish, an NPR reporter and fill-in host. I've heard Audie file lots of stories and appear on WESUN several times. About the time I first became aware of Audie, I also saw a movie with actress Abbie Cornish, so my brain cross-wired them. This is my mental image of Audie Cornish:
I don't ever need to know what Audie really looks like. I'm quite content thinking she looks like Abbie.