Melissa Block

Melissa Block is a 28-year veteran of NPR and has been hosting All Things Considered since 2003, after nearly a decade as an NPR correspondent.

Frequently reporting from communities in the center of the news, Block was in Chengdu, China, preparing for a weeklong broadcast when a massive earthquake struck the region in May 2008. Immediately following the quake, Block, along with co-host Robert Siegel and their production team, traveled throughout Sichuan province to report extensively on the destruction and relief efforts. Their riveting coverage aired across all of NPR's programs and was carried on major news organizations around the world. In addition, the reporting was recognized with the industry's top honors including a Peabody Award, a duPont-Columbia Award, a National Headliner Award and the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Throughout her career, Block has covered major news events for NPR ranging from on-the-scene reporting from the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the days following Hurricane Katrina to a series from Texas gauging the impact of the Iraq War on the surrounding communities. Her reporting after the September 11, 2001 attacks was part of coverage that earned NPR a George Foster Peabody Award. Block's reporting from Kosovo in 1999 was cited among stories for which NPR News won an Overseas Press Club Award.

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4:52pm

Fri April 11, 2014
Deep In The Heart Of (A Transforming) Texas

LBJ Carried Poor Texas Town With Him In Civil Rights Fight

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 1:34 am

Long before he was president, Lyndon Johnson taught in Cotulla, Texas. He is pictured here with students in 1928.
Courtesy of LBJ Library

4:08pm

Thu April 10, 2014
Deep In The Heart Of (A Transforming) Texas

Drilling Frenzy Fuels Sudden Growth In Small Texas Town

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 8:12 pm

This nighttime NASA satellite image from 2012 shows lights from drilling sites and natural gas flaring along the Eagle Ford Shale.
NASA

South Texas is in the midst of a massive oil boom. In just a few years, it has totally transformed once-sleepy communities along a crescent swoosh known as the Eagle Ford Shale formation and has brought unexpected prosperity — along with a host of new concerns.

Among the towns drastically changed by the drilling is Cotulla, southwest of San Antonio, about 70 miles up from the border with Mexico. The area is called brush country — flat, dry ranch land, scrubby with mesquite and parched by drought.

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4:23pm

Mon April 7, 2014
Sports

In NCAA Finals, Two Recent Champions On Unlikely Rides

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 7:29 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

It's Huskies versus Wildcats as the Men's Division I college basketball season comes to an end tonight. Facing off are two recent champions: the University of Connecticut, who won in 2011, and the University of Kentucky who won in 2012. They've both had improbable rides to tonight's title game.

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6:27pm

Thu April 3, 2014
The Two-Way

Another Tragedy For A City All Too Familiar With Extreme Gun Violence

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 8:15 pm

Bob Butler (left) and Bob Gordon work on a memorial Thursday at Central Christian Church in Killeen, Texas, for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting.
Eric Gay AP

Flags are fluttering at half-staff across Killeen, Texas, after yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood. This is a city that's all too familiar with spasms of extreme gun violence: a shooting rampage at Luby's Cafeteria in 1991 that left 23 dead.

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4:43pm

Thu April 3, 2014
News

On Base And In Town, Shooting Summons A Dread All Too Familiar

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 6:22 pm

From Killeen, Texas, where Fort Hood is based, Melissa Block talks to soldiers who were on base during the shooting, as well as with Killeen's mayor. The mayor explains how the town is trying to cope.

4:33pm

Tue April 1, 2014
Deep In The Heart Of (A Transforming) Texas

As Texas Gets More Diverse, Educators Grab The Bull By The Horns

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 5:45 pm

Students participate in orchestra practice at Dr. John Folks Middle School in suburban San Antonio. The school is brand new and was built with explosive growth in mind — the student population is expected to double to 1,200 within five years.
Melissa Block NPR

Texas is in the midst of a population boom and demographic sea change. It's grown faster than any other state and has more than doubled its population in just 40 years, from 11 to 26 million people.

And overwhelmingly, the fastest growth is among Hispanics who now make up 38 percent of the state's population and will be the largest single group in Texas by 2020.

Majority Minority State

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3:57pm

Mon March 31, 2014
Shots - Health News

Orthotic Brace Takes Soldiers From Limping To Leaping

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 3:31 pm

Soldiers participate in physical therapy while using a prosthetic brace called the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO), which allows them to use and strengthen severely injured legs.
John Moore Getty Images

A deceptively simple leg brace is changing the lives of hundreds of wounded service members. Soldiers with badly injured legs who thought they'd have to live with terrible pain can walk and run again, pain-free.

Earlier this month, Army Spc. Joey McElroy took his first steps in the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO (pronounced: eye-DAY-oh). The device squeaked a bit as he stepped briskly on an indoor track.

McElroy was hit by a car and thrown from his motorcycle on Dec. 5, 2012.

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4:06pm

Fri March 14, 2014
News

Tell Your Bestie: The OED Has New Words

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 6:33 pm

The Oxford English Dictionary is adding some 900 new words and phrases to its pages, with wackadoodle, bestie and DIYer among them. Melissa and Robert review some of the new entries.

4:18pm

Tue March 4, 2014
Strange News

Fake Chef, Real Recipes — And The Food's Disgusting

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 6:31 pm

Nick Preuher is no chef; he only plays one on TV. More accurately, he has pretended to be one, appearing on various local morning television shows as a prank.

4:07pm

Thu February 27, 2014
From Our Listeners

Letters: Genetic Experiments And Hopes For Saving Voices

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:57 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Finally this hour: Your letters. We heard from Aaron Berger, a high school biology teacher in Minneapolis. He listened closely to our conversation this week about mitochondrial DNA. A debate is raging over whether women who want to have children but have errors in their DNA should be allowed to get a healthy transplant.

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4:14pm

Wed February 12, 2014
Health

More Findings, More Questions About Value Of Mammograms

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:00 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There's new evidence out today that's raising questions about whether women in their 40's and 50's should routinely undergo mammography to detect breast cancer. A new analysis of a big Canadian study found no evidence that regular mammograms save lives. The study even suggests that for many women, regular breast X-rays may do more harm than good.

NPR's Rob Stein joins us now to talk about this report. It appears in the British medical journal BMJ.

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5:48pm

Fri January 31, 2014
Health

Sidelined By Brain Injury, Ex-NFL Player Copes With 'Desperation'

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:51 pm

Sean Morey, then with the Arizona Cardinals, celebrates after blocking a punt against the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. Morey, who suffers from post-concussion syndrome, retired from the NFL in 2010 on the advice of doctors.
Stephen Dunn Getty Images

The home of Sean Morey bears the impressive signposts of his 10-year career in the NFL: a Vince Lombardi trophy for his Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. A hefty Super Bowl ring. A framed photograph showing Morey in midair, launching himself like a missile to block a punt. With that play in 2008, his Arizona Cardinals became the only team in NFL history to win a game in overtime with a blocked punt.

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6:28pm

Fri October 25, 2013
NPR Story

JPMorgan Chase Agrees To Pay $5.1 Billion To Feds

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 7:55 pm

JPMorgan Chase agreed pay $5.1 billion to settle litigation over mortgage assets sold during the housing bubble. The deal, announced late Friday afternoon, is to resolve claims the company misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the housing market crashed. It is part of a tentative $13 billion deal the company is trying to reach with federal and state agencies over its mortgage liabilities.

5:28pm

Wed September 18, 2013
Latin America

Brazil's New Middle Class: A Better Life, Not An Easy One

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

Roberto de Carvalho (left), who maintains a truck fleet in Recife, Brazil, is shown here with his daughter Sandra, 22, wife Enilda and daughter Susana, 16. The family makes just enough to belong the rapidly expanding ranks of the country's middle class, though they still can't afford a house or even a car.
Melissa Block NPR

Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.

But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.

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4:57pm

Tue September 17, 2013
NPR Story

The Secret To One Brazilian Street Treat: Make It With Love

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 5:34 pm

Melissa Block is in Olinda, Brazil where a street vendor teaches her the secret to making Brazilian-style tapioca.

4:29pm

Tue August 20, 2013
The Salt

'Treme' Cookbook Captures The Flavor Of A Show And A City

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:34 am

Microwave pralines are easier to make than stovetop pralines, and just as tasty.
Ed Anderson Chronicle Books

If you find yourself craving New Orleans food, you could go there and melt in the sweltering heat for a dose of gumbo or praline bacon. Or you could settle in on your couch, as I've been doing, and torture yourself watching reruns of the HBO series Treme. It's set in post-Katrina New Orleans and, along with the music, it puts the city's food on center stage.

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5:11pm

Mon August 5, 2013
NPR Story

Amazon CEO To Buy 'Washington Post' And Sister Papers

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The man who pushed the book publishing industry into the digital age is now buying one of the country's most storied newspaper companies. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is acquiring The Washington Post and its small sister papers. The news broke after the markets closed today. NPR's David Folkenflik covers the newspaper industry, and he joins me now. And, David, this was, I think, the best-kept secret in Washington. Tell us some details of this transaction and how it came about.

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6:19pm

Tue July 23, 2013
Around the Nation

Weiner Says He Won't Drop Campaign For NYC Mayor

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. Disgraced former congressman - and current New York City mayoral candidate - Anthony Weiner is apologizing again, this time after the publication of still more lewd messages and photos that Weiner exchanged online with a woman who is not his wife.

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4:41pm

Tue July 23, 2013
Music Interviews

Guy Clark, Music's Master Craftsman, On Making Songs Last

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 6:16 pm

Tools line the walls of Guy Clark's basement workshop at his home in Nashville, where he still builds guitars.
Jinae West NPR

If you want to learn how to write a song — one that's built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.

Songwriters who revere Clark will tell you he crafts songs with the same precision and attention to detail he uses when he builds guitars. But Clark has a simpler, blunter explanation, as he told me with a glint in his eye when I visited him recently at his home in Nashville, Tenn.

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7:37pm

Thu June 13, 2013
Middle East

Chemical Weapons Use In Syria Crosses U.S. 'Red Line'

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Obama administration has now joined France and Britain in concluding that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people. That crosses a red line that President Obama has repeatedly warned would change the U.S. calculation in Syria.

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10:35pm

Mon June 10, 2013
NPR Story

Feds Drop Opposition To Restriction On Sales Of Morning-After Pill

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 8:11 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The morning-after pill will soon be available - without a prescription - on pharmacy shelves, with no restrictions on age. That's because the Obama administration has dropped a long-running battle to keep age restrictions on emergency contraception. NPR's Julie Rovner joins me to explain this policy change. And Julie, this was an unexpected development. It came tonight. What happened?

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6:01pm

Mon May 20, 2013
Around the Nation

The Low-Tech Way Guns Get Traced

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 9:06 pm

ATF Special Agent Charles Houser runs the National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Melissa Block NPR

Opponents of expanding background checks for gun sales often raise the fear that it would allow the government to create a national gun registry — a database of gun transactions. In fact, federal law already bans the creation of such a registry. And the reality of how gun sales records are accessed turns out to be surprisingly low-tech.

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5:59pm

Fri April 19, 2013
Business

Boeing's 787 Dreamliners To Fly Again After FAA Approval

Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 10:51 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And as we continue to cover the events in the Boston area, we want to also talk about one other story, Boeing 787. The jet known as the Dreamliner will be back in the air soon. This afternoon, the FAA approved Boeing's redesign of the plane's battery system. Fifty 787s have been grounded for the last three months following two serious battery failures, one which led to a fire.

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6:07pm

Thu April 11, 2013
Asia

Report: North Korea May Be Able To Deliver Nuclear Weapons

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. A stunning revelation today from a member of Congress. It came from Republican Doug Lamborn, of Colorado, during an exchange on Capitol Hill with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lamborn cited a Defense Intelligence Agency report on North Korea's military capability, one that had not yet been released. Here's what Rep. Lamborn said.

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5:44pm

Thu March 21, 2013
Guns In America: A Loaded Relationship

On Gun Ownership And Policy, 'A Country Of Chasms'

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 7:55 pm

Gun enthusiast Paul Gwaltney at Blue Ridge Arsenal, in Chantilly, Va. Gwaltney, an NPR listener, agreed to host a discussion about guns with friends and colleagues.
Becky Lettenberger NPR

The ideological gulf between gun owners and non-gun owners is a wide one — made all the more obvious by the ongoing debate over what, if any, gun control measures should be adopted in the U.S.

Sometimes, the debate feels like people are coming from different worlds, even for people within the same family. And while Americans are often willing to discuss their own views, it's rarer to hear conversations between people who own and love guns and those who do not.

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5:13pm

Mon March 18, 2013
U.S.

Among Thousands Of Gun Deaths, Only One Charles Foster Jr.

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 9:45 pm

Led by the Rev. Willie Phillips (center), protesters march in February against violence in and around Club Majestic.
Mike Haskey Courtesy of The Ledger Enquirer

The Morris Missionary Baptist Church is nestled down a red dirt road, in Morris, Ga., set among pine trees near the Alabama state line. Next to the small white church lies its most recent grave site: that of Charles Foster Jr.

While the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., garnered a frenzy of news coverage, statistically, they are not the norm. Each year, thousands of gun homicides in the U.S. — 11,000 in 2010 alone — attract little or no media attention.

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7:11pm

Tue February 12, 2013
Around the Nation

Fugitive Ex-LAPD Officer Apparently Barracaded In Cabin

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 1:19 pm

Kirk Siegler talks to Melissa Block for an update on the search for former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner. A man that authorities identified as Dorner was holed up in a cabin near Big Bear Lake, Calif., on Tuesday evening. Hundreds of officers surrounded the home. Dorner is wanted for questioning in three murders and one attempted murder.

4:35pm

Tue January 29, 2013
Africa

U.S. May Build Base For Drones In Northwest Africa

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 2:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We're going to head west now, from Egypt across Libya to Niger. The Pentagon has signed a deal with the government there. The agreement could allow the U.S. to establish a forward base in Niger so that it could operate drone aircraft across northern and western Africa. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman has been reporting on the U.S. military's growing presence on the continent. He joins me now here in the studio.

And Tom, how close is the U.S. to actually setting up a drone base in Niger?

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5:50pm

Wed January 23, 2013
Fine Art

In 'According To What?' Ai Weiwei Makes Mourning Subversive

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 4:48 pm

Grapes, a spiky cluster of wooden stools from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is part of Ai Weiwei's repurposed furniture series.
Cathy Carver Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum

7:19pm

Mon January 21, 2013
Around the Nation

Inaugural Balls Downsized The Second Time Around

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

So 9-year-old Lauren Kanabel there has a dream: a girl president elected in 2016. And whether or not that dream comes true, there will be inaugural balls. The tradition dates back to George Washington. Four years ago, President Obama attended ten inaugural balls, this year only two, both at the convention center here in Washington. And NPR's Allison Aubrey is there. She joins us by phone. Allison, the ball has been going on for a few hours now. What's the scene?

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