Turn on NPR’s Morning Edition on any given day and the warm, familiar voice of an old friend awaits you. Day after day, year after year, Susan Stamberg is eager to tell news stories that will stir your imagination.
As Stamberg says, “Pictures are always better on the radio!”
You might remember Stamberg’s interview last summer with an author who examined the lives of six famous women through the foods that they ate. Or Stamberg’s report this fall on a Museum of Modern Art exhibition of clothing that made history. And surely, you have heard Stamberg sharing the recipe for Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish, a Thanksgiving story tradition.
You can hear Stamberg talk about that cranberry relish and a great deal more by attending Connections, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s annual gathering for Jewish women, taking place on Sunday, January 28, 2018, at The Westin Seattle. Stamberg will be the featured speaker at the event, the largest philanthropic gathering of Jewish women in the Northwest.
“I love it!” Stamberg says of Seattle.
Stamberg is an award-winning journalist who has worked at NPR since the network’s beginning in 1971. Now reporting from Washington, DC, on cultural topics as a special correspondent for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition/Saturday, Stamberg co-hosted All Things Considered for 14 years, and then hosted Weekend Edition/Sunday for three years. She has interviewed thousands of newsmakers and artists, including Laura Bush, Rosa Parks, Luciano Pavarotti, Stephen Sondheim, and Billy Joel.
Stamberg’s storytelling is a product of the journalist’s stock in trade: curiosity. “So much of what I do is driven by my curiosity, a chance to learn something new,” she says. Stamberg has a way of stirring your curiosity with a conversational style that invites you to appreciate culture in a fresh light. A gift for drawing in listeners is the secret sauce of radio journalism — “I have to figure out a way to grab [listeners] by the lapels and make the beginning of the story provocative,” she notes.
When Stamberg began working in radio, women journalists in broadcasting were few and far between. Women entering the field today have Stamberg as a role model, just as she looked up to pioneering women broadcast journalists of the mid-20th century, such as Pauline Frederick and Nancy Dickerson of NBC News. Dickerson, Stamberg remembers, “reached out to me, we had lunch, she gave me wonderful answers to my questions. She was so generous, a wonderful mentor.”
Stamberg’s flair for telling stories has roots in Jewish storytelling traditions, “that sense of listening to the Bible at temple, the stories being told and retold around the High Holidays,” as she puts it. Growing up in New York City, where in her childhood, “I thought the whole world was Jewish,” traditions of questioning and debate influenced her journalistic work. Stamberg, who considers herself “culturally Jewish,” observes “we are people of the book” for whom “teaching our children to think critically” is embedded in the culture. “Those are the elements I grew up with,” she says.
Now, what about Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish? The backstory is not what you might think, but come to Connections and you can hear for yourself!