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.

5:44pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 11:17 am

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

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.

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5:30pm

Thu April 17, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:06 pm

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

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:

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4:47pm

Thu March 13, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:35 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.

5:20pm

Sat November 9, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 2:10 pm

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

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.

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3:17am

Tue October 22, 2013
Business

Michigan Apple Harvest Recovers, But Pickers Are Scarce

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:29 am

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

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.

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6:20pm

Wed August 28, 2013
The NPR 100

The Inspiring Force Of 'We Shall Overcome'

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 9:26 pm

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

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.

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3:42pm

Tue August 20, 2013
Books News & Features

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

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 5:22 pm

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

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.

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3:21pm

Tue August 20, 2013
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 6:14 pm

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

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.

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3:05am

Fri August 9, 2013
Around the Nation

In Paducah, Artists Create Something From Nothing

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 12:06 pm

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

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.

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2:57am

Mon June 17, 2013
Crime In The City

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

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 1:13 pm

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

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.

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5:36pm

Fri May 31, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 9:23 pm

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

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.

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3:27am

Tue May 14, 2013
The Salt

Michigan Apple Orchards Blossom After A Devastating Year

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 8:20 pm

Apple Blossoms
Amy Irish-Brown

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.

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3:55pm

Mon April 8, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 9:59 pm

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

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.

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5:17pm

Mon March 4, 2013
U.S.

Steamship Anchors A Community, But Its Days May Be Numbered

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:50 pm

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

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.

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5:13pm

Mon January 21, 2013
Around the Nation

In Kentucky's Coal Country, A Resentment For Obama

Originally published on Mon January 21, 2013 8:22 pm

The Big Sandy Power Plant, 4 miles north of Louisa, is the biggest industry in Lawrence County. Local residents blame President Obama's environmental policies for the company's plans to close the plant in 2015.
Noah Adams NPR

If the voters in Louisa, Ky., had their wish, Mitt Romney would have taken the oath of office Monday. Louisa is in eastern Kentucky, and "coal" was the one-word issue in the election. President Obama is seen as an enemy of coal mining and he got only 27 percent of the vote in the county.

And now comes word that Louisa is going to lose its biggest industry — a power generating plant that's been burning coal since 1962.

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2:14am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Salt

The Rebirth Of Rye Whiskey And Nostalgia For 'The Good Stuff'

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 11:04 am

Templeton bottles, filled and almost corked.
Noah Adams NPR

It used to be said that only old men drink rye, sitting alone down at the end of the bar, but that's no longer the case as bartenders and patrons set aside the gins and the vodkas and rediscover the pleasures of one of America's old-fashioned favorites.

Whiskey from rye grain was what most distilleries made before Prohibition. Then, after repeal in 1933, bourbon, made from corn, became more popular. Corn was easier to grow, and the taste was sweeter.

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3:44pm

Mon September 17, 2012
The Salt

Shriveled Mich. Apple Harvest Means Fewer Jobs, Tough Year Ahead

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:42 pm

A lonely Michigan apple.
Noah Adams NPR

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but what do you do when there are no apples? It's a question western Michigan's apple growers are dealing with this season after strange weather earlier in the year decimated the state's apple cultivation.

Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington, but the state's apples will soon be in short supply. Now in the middle of harvest season, growers are picking only 10 percent to 15 percent of their normal crop.

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3:24am

Mon August 27, 2012
Crime In The City

Michigan Author Dreams Up A Deadlier Ann Arbor

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 11:32 pm

In Very Bad Men, Seva is Sen. John Casterbridge's favorite restaurant. Dolan won't say if he's a good guy or not, because "that would be giving it away."
Vasenka via Flickr

Ask Harry Dolan to take you for lunch at a restaurant he's written about, and he won't disappoint. In downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., on Liberty Street, the vegetarian restaurant Seva serves mushroom sliders and yam fries that both the crime writer and his characters are quite fond of. With any luck, you'll also catch the perfect song playing in the background — "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads.

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4:29pm

Mon August 6, 2012
Summer Nights: Funtown After Sundown

Cruisin' For Classic Cars On A Steamy Summer Night

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 7:00 am

Antique trucks, including a 1937 Plymouth, on display at the weekly Cruisin' on the Square car show in Milan, Ohio. Classic car owners and enthusiasts gather each Tuesday evening through the summer to show off their cars or even find one to buy.
Noah Adams NPR

At the heart of the small town of Milan, Ohio, there's a graceful and tree-lined town square. It makes a good gathering spot for the classic cars and trucks of decades past.

A 1923 T-Bucket Ford, a '77 Chevy El Camino, a '68 AMC AMX, a '46 Dodge truck, a '59 Ford Galaxie — they all keep arriving after 5 o'clock every Tuesday evening. As the owner-drivers park around the square, engine hoods go up, lawn chairs come out — and the admiration begins.

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5:29pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Election 2012

Obama's 'Clean Coal' Fighting Words To W.Va. Dems

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 11:34 am

A sign outside the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce in Williamson, W.Va., welcomes visitors to "Hatfield McCoy Country," referring to a legendary family feud that played out in the Appalachians.
Noah Adams NPR

Mingo County, deep in the southwest corner of West Virginia, has sent a "protest vote" to the attention of President Obama. In the May 8 Democratic primary, voters chose a man named Keith Judd to run for president. He got 61 percent of the vote.

Judd won't be available. He's serving a 17-year sentence for extortion. From prison in Texas, he managed to file the papers, pay the fee and get on the West Virginia ballot.

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5:03am

Sat May 5, 2012
Sports

Called To The Post, Derby Starters Pack 'Em In

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 10:26 am

Derby entry El Padrino bites his shank during a bath ahead of the 138th Kentucky Derby this week.
Rob Carr Getty Images

When the gates fly open at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, all eyes will be on the 20 racehorses that launch themselves into the 138th Kentucky Derby. That's a lot of horses, and a special challenge for the men charged with getting them into the starting gate safely.

Caleb Hayes, 24, has been part of the 12-man start crew for the past six years. The 9-to-5 life isn't for him, he says — he loves his job and likes working the gate side by side with the older guys.

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5:48pm

Tue April 17, 2012
History

How America 'Struck Back': Doolittle Raid Turns 70

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 6:37 pm

U.S. Navy crewmen watch a B-25 bomber take off from the USS Hornet for the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942.
AP

It's just after sunrise outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, when 20 B-25 bombers start showing up in the western sky.

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2:59pm

Tue November 29, 2011
Hard Times: A Journey Across America

Hard Times Inspire Ky. College Students To Action

Originally published on Tue November 29, 2011 8:22 pm

Sophomore Emily Nugent is among Berea College's 1,600 students who receive free tuition. On average, Berea's students come from families with household incomes of about $25,000.
Noah Adams NPR

Part of a monthlong series

NPR's Hard Times series features stories of economic hardship and also stories of hope. We asked for ideas from listeners, and Emily Nugent of Berea College in Kentucky responded, writing: "With a student body composed entirely of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Berea students know about the challenges Americans are facing." Noah Adams went in search of Emily and the Berea College story.

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8:50am

Sat October 15, 2011
Sports

117 Years Of Racing Stats Put To Pasture At The Track

The Daily Racing Form is the newspaper of the thoroughbred industry. The first one was published in Chicago on Nov. 17, 1894. The Keeneland race track in Lexington, Ky., holds a vast collection and is attempting to establish a digital archive.

Noah Adams NPR

Many horse racing fans swear by — and sometimes possibly at — the Daily Racing Form. It's the newspaper of the thoroughbred industry.

Before you bet that exacta, you can check out a horse's pedigree, race experience and morning workout times. You'll see which mares have been bred to which stallions.

The Keeneland race track in Lexington, Ky., holds a vast collection of Daily Racing Form issues, and further efforts are under way to preserve every issue and establish a digital archive.

Want To Pick A Winner? Read The Form

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4:26pm

Thu September 8, 2011
Reporter's Notebook

Boy Scouts Look Forward To New Site

Christopher Lechalk, 11, and Matthew Lechalk, 14, of the Fayetteville, W.Va., Boy Scouts say they are looking forward to the new camp.
Noah Adams NPR

I spent a few days in Fayetteville, W.Va., while recording interviews about the new scout camp being built nearby. I found myself longing to talk to some actual Boy Scouts — kids from the area who would surely be eager to see what the scout leaders had in mind for the opening in July 2013.

So I sat on a back porch with George Lechalk, a scoutmaster, and his sons Christopher, 11, and Matthew, 14.

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1:46pm

Thu September 8, 2011
Around the Nation

Boy Scouts Find New Home Amid Mountains

Here, an aerial shot of the future site of a Boy Scouts camp in West Virginia.
Noah Adams NPR

In West Virginia, an Appalachian mountain is being transformed into a vast Boy Scout camp. It's more than 10,000 acres and will cost the Boy Scouts of America more than $400 million to build The Summit Bechtel Reserve, also known simply as the Summit.

The year-round high-adventure camp will soon be the permanent home of the National Scout Jamboree — the next one is in 2013 — and the camp will host the 2019 World Jamboree. The Boy Scouts announced on Thursday that they received $85 million in new gifts to help the effort.

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4:12pm

Tue August 16, 2011
All Tech Considered

Air Force Eyes Artificial Birds, Bugs That Can Spy

A carbon fiber tobacco moth wing created by Maj. Ryan O'Hara flaps 30 times per second and was photographed using a strobe light.
Noah Adams NPR

At the Wright–Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, some Ph.D. candidates are working on micro air vehicles, or tiny flying machines that are remotely piloted.

The micro machines are often "bio-inspired" — study a bird or an insect and then build one.

"If you close your eyes and think of a fat pigeon, that's about the biggest size that we want to use." says Leslie Perkins, who worked with the micro program at the Air Force Research Laboratory. She says the smallest would be about the size of a dragonfly.

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5:00am

Thu August 4, 2011
America's Mayors: Governing In Tough Times

Progress And Promise For A Town Once In Crisis

Wayne Seybold of Marion, Ind., grew up in a trailer park on the factory side of town. As mayor, he's downsized the city's government and expanded the business community.
Noah Adams NPR

Part 5 of a 6-part series

Let's say you're the mayor. It's your city, it's where you wake up. But are you thinking about Washington each morning, or do you zip out of the house in your mayor's outfit with your smartphone, and see what you can get done yourself?

If you're Wayne Seybold, the mayor of Marion, Ind., it's a bit of both.

The 47-year-old Republican is now in his second term. His city, in north-central Indiana, is home to 30,000 people who've been though a tough economy.

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