Noah Adams

Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk., focusing on the low-wage workforce, farm issues, and the Katrina aftermath. Now based in Ohio, he travels extensively for his reporting assignments, a position he's held since 2003.

Adams' career in radio began in 1962 at WIRO in Ironton, Ohio, across the river from his native Ashland, Kentucky. He was a "good music" DJ on the morning shift, and played rock and roll on Sandman's Serenade from 9 p.m. to midnight. Between shifts, he broadcasted everything from basketball games to sock hops. From 1963 to 1965, Adams was on the air from WCMI (Ashland), WSAZ (Huntington, W. Va.) and WCYB (Bristol, Va.).

After other radio work in Georgia and Kentucky, Adams left broadcasting and spent six years working at various jobs, including at a construction company, an automobile dealership and an advertising agency.

In 1971, Adam discovered public radio at WBKY, the University of Kentucky's station in Lexington. He began as a volunteer rock and roll announcer but soon became involved in other projects, including documentaries and a weekly bluegrass show. Three years later he joined the staff full-time as host of a morning news and music program.

Adams came to NPR in 1975 where he worked behind the scenes editing and writing for the next three years. He became co-host of the weekend edition of All Things Considered in 1978 and in September 1982, Adams was named weekday co-host, joining Susan Stamberg.

During 1988, Adams left NPR for one year to host Minnesota Public Radio's Good Evening, a weekly show that blended music with storytelling. He returned to All Things Considered in February 1989.

Over the years Adams has often reported from overseas: he covered the Christmas Eve uprising against the Ceasescu government in Romania, and his work from Serbia was honored by the Overseas Press Club in 1994. His writing and narration of the 1981 documentary "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown," earned Adams a Prix Italia, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award and the Major Armstrong Award.

A collection of Adams' essays from Good Evening, entitled Saint Croix Notes: River Morning, Radio Nights (W.W. Norton) was printed in 1990. Two years later, Adams' second book, Noah Adams on All Things Considered: A Radio Journal (W.W. Norton), was published. Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures (Delacore), Adams next book was finished in 1996, and Far Appalachia: Following the New River North, in 2000. The Flyers: in Search of Wilbur and Orville Wright (Crown) was published in 2004. Most recently Adams co-wrote This is NPR: The First Forty Years (Chronicle Books), to be released in November 2010.

Adams lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his wife, Neenah Ellis, is the general manager of NPR member station WYSO.

Pages

Crime In The City
2:15 am
Thu June 26, 2014

In Mystery Series's W.Va. River Town, There's No Escape From Terror

Julia Keller's crime series about prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins is set in a fictional town inspired by Guyandotte, W. Va., near where she grew up.
Melissa Smith-Stanley Courtesy of The Guyandotte Improvement & Historical Association

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:52 pm

When writer Julia Keller talks, you notice a touch of West Virginia — it is, after all, her home state. Her accent may have faded a bit during her newspaper career in Chicago, so she says when she started thinking about writing crime novels, she was happy to hear the Appalachian voices coming out of her memory.

"I was probably the most surprised person of all when I chose to set my fiction in West Virginia," she says. "[I] hadn't lived here in a long time, didn't really know that it moved in my blood — if it did."

Read more
Around the Nation
4:44 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Want A Shot At $10,000? Solve Kentucky's Great Bourbon Mystery

Pappy Van Winkle bourbons at Bourbons Bistro in Louisville, Ky. The spirit was pricey even before a heist at the distillery last October. Now, a 2-ounce pour can cost $100.
Noah Adams for NPR

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 10:17 am

Saturday marks the 140th Run for the Roses: the Kentucky Derby. Great horses, great hats — but where's the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon for the mint juleps?

Last October, more than 200 bottles of the prized spirit were stolen right out of the distillery in Frankfort, Ky. The county sheriff believes it was an inside job, and a $10,000 reward remains on offer.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:30 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

The Ohio Snake Art That's Been Mid-Slither For A Millennium

The Serpent Mound in southern Ohio is 3 feet high and more than 1,300 feet long.
Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:06 pm

In new installment of the Spring Break series, Noah Adams visits the Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. It's not a burial site; it's a massive, grass-covered effigy of a snake, created a thousand years ago.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Around the Nation
3:47 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

For A New View On The West Virginia Spill, Follow The Elk River

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 5:35 pm

In early January, West Virginia's Elk River was contaminated by a chemical spill near Charleston. NPR's Noah Adams returns to the Elk nearly two months later to follow the course of the river.

Around the Nation
4:20 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

In The Heat Of The Foundry, Steinway Piano 'Hearts' Are Made

Sparks fly as Dan Hensley pours liquid iron (at 2575 degrees Farenheit) into the mold for a piano plate destined for Steinway pianos, at O.S. Kelly foundry in Springfield, Ohio.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 1:10 pm

The Steinway piano company has a new owner. This fall, the investment firm Paulson & Co. — led by billionaire John Paulson — spent about $500 million and bought all of Steinway & Sons, the venerated piano maker.

The deal includes a foundry in Springfield, Ohio, where the Steinway pianos are born in fire.

The O.S. Kelly Foundry has been making Steinway's plates since 1938. The plate is the cast-iron heart of a piano: It holds the steel wire strings with 40,000 pounds of tension, the company says. It allows vibrations to arise in a concert hall as music.

Read more
Business
2:17 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Michigan Apple Harvest Recovers, But Pickers Are Scarce

Apples sit in a bin after being harvested at Riveridge Produce in Sparta, Mich. The apple harvest in Michigan this year is projected to be about ten times larger than in 2012.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:29 am

One year ago the Michigan apple harvest, hurt by a late winter warm-up and a spring freeze, was almost nonexistent at 3 million bushels. This fall, the crop is projected to yield a record-setting 30 million bushels, but now there's concern that not enough pickers will be in the orchards.

Read more
The NPR 100
5:20 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

The Inspiring Force Of 'We Shall Overcome'

American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger (left) adopted and helped popularize "We Shall Overcome" by teaching the song at rallies and protests. Here he sings with activists in Greenwood, Miss., in 1963.
Adger Cowans Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 8:26 pm

As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, All Things Considered concludes its series about the moments that defined the historic summer of 1963. Back in 1999, Noah Adams explored the history and legacy of the song "We Shall Overcome" for the NPR 100. The audio link contains a condensed version of that piece.

Read more
Books News & Features
2:42 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard, The 'Dickens Of Detroit,' Dies At 87

In his home library, Leonard kept copies of every book he'd ever written.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 4:22 pm

The writer Elmore Leonard has died. He was 87 years old and had recently suffered a stroke.

For decades, Leonard — working at the very top of his profession as a crime writer — had been widely acclaimed, and universally read. He published 46 novels, which resulted in countless movie and TV adaptations, including the movies Out of Sight and Get Shorty and the TV series Justified.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:21 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

A Day With Elmore Leonard And The White Castle That Wasn't

Elmore Leonard's writing desk at his home in Bloomfield Village, just outside Detroit. He wrote each page of his books by hand on canary yellow paper.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 5:14 pm

Upon hearing news of the death of Elmore Leonard, NPR correspondent and former All Things Considered co-host Noah Adams recalls a day he spent with the crime writer in his hometown.

Three years ago, I rode with Elmore Leonard in the back of a rental car to see Detroit and remember what it once was. Much of it was sadly puzzling to him, especially the empty space where Tiger Stadium had been.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:05 am
Fri August 9, 2013

In Paducah, Artists Create Something From Nothing

Fiber artist Freda Fairchild at the door of her Studio Miska (Dear Little Mouse).
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 11:06 am

How do you fix a neighborhood? What do you do about crime and drugs and the once-lovely old houses that are falling down? The answer in Paducah, Ky., was to turn it into a special place for artists to live, work and sell.

Paducah, already home to the National Quilt Museum, is far west on the edge of Kentucky, on the Ohio River. Lowertown, so-named for being downriver from downtown Paducah, was once quite elegant — 25 square blocks. But in time it became a difficult place to admire.

Read more
Crime In The City
1:57 am
Mon June 17, 2013

In Neville's Thrillers, Belfast's Violent Past Still Burns

Bonfires light up the Belfast skyline on July 12, 1997, as Protestant loyalists commemorate the 17th century victory of a Protestant king over his deposed Catholic predecessor. Known as the Battle of the Boyne, the confrontation is part of a long history of tensions in the region.
Paul McErlane AP

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 12:13 pm

At 41, with long black hair, Stuart Neville looks more like the rock guitarist he used to be than the author he is now. He lives in a small town with his family — not in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the city that plays a central role in his thrillers, but just outside it.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:36 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

In Ohio Town, Okla. Twister Conjures Echoes Of 1974 Disaster

In 1974, a young Xenia, Ohio, resident sweeps the slab of a house that was destroyed in a tornado that struck the town April 3.
AP

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 8:23 pm

When a tornado roars into a populated area, the change is often drastic and deadly, and it happens within minutes. As the people of Oklahoma struggle to look beyond this month's devastating storms, residents of Xenia, Ohio, are reflecting on the tornado of 1974.

Xenia, in southwest Ohio near Dayton, became well-known to the nation that year. "Everywhere I go, and I've been all over the U.S., if I say I'm from Xenia people say, 'tornado,' " says Catherine Wilson, who runs the historical society in Xenia. She still gets a lot of questions about the twister.

Read more
The Salt
2:27 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Michigan Apple Orchards Blossom After A Devastating Year

Apple Blossoms
Amy Irish-Brown

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 7:20 pm

Last year, almost the entire Michigan apple crop was lost because of 80-degree days in March and then some freezing April nights. This year, the apples are back, but everything always depends on the weather. The state was under a freeze warning Sunday night — a scary prospect if you're an apple grower and your trees have just come into bloom.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:55 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Struggling W.Va. Town Hopes Boy Scout Camp Brings New Life

Mount Hope, W.Va., population 1,400, was once a thriving coal town. Today, many of the storefronts in its tiny downtown sit empty.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 8:59 pm

Picture a tiny town set along a creek in West Virginia. A mountain rises from the town's eastern edge, overlooking the 1,400 people living below. Then, July comes — and 50,000 people arrive on that mountain for the National Scout Jamboree.

The town is called Mount Hope. I've heard some call it "Mount Hopeless." The town went through the long, downward slump from the boom days of deep-mine coal, when it was a grand, small-town capital of coal mining.

Read more
U.S.
4:17 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Steamship Anchors A Community, But Its Days May Be Numbered

The nation's last coal-burning ferry, the SS Badger, sits on Lake Michigan in the port town of Ludington, Mich. The EPA permit that has long allowed the ship to dump coal ash into the lake is now under review.
Courtesy photo for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:50 pm

On the shores of Lake Michigan, the tiny town of Ludington, Mich., is home port to the last coal-fired ferry in the U.S. The SS Badger has been making trips across the lake to Manitowoc, Wis., during the good-weather months since 1953. And as it runs, the 411-foot ferry discharges coal ash slurry directly into the lake.

An Environmental Protection Agency permit allows the Badger to dump four tons of ash into the lake daily. But now, the agency has put the permit under review — and that means the Badger could stop sailing.

Read more

Pages