After 13 years at NPR, Michele Norris is dropping the microphone. The longtime public radio personality and former "All Things Considered" host says she is leaving NPR at the end of the year to focus on growing The Race Card Project, which she created in 2010.
"The Race Card Project has grown larger and more robust than I ever imagined,” Norris told KPCC on Thursday. “I want to figure out how I can grow it and find active partners to work with me.”
The Race Card Project earned a Peabody Award in 2013 and tackles issues of race, identity, sexuality and aging. Or as Norris puts it, starts dialogue around “the boxes that people feel like they’re put in or the angst that they feel in having to check a box.”
Norris says she's looking forward to taking some time away from public radio to study how the media landscape has changed.
In an email announcing her departure, Mike Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director at NPR, said Norris brought audiences profoundly moving, award-winning coverage ranging from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to interviews with leaders in politics, art, culture.
"She also helped NPR reach younger listeners through the Backseat Book Club with producer Justine Kenin and she has led visceral, honest national conversations about race through the York Project she conducted with Steve Inskeep around the 2008 elections that earned the duPont Award," Oreskes wrote.
After hearing the news, Take Two Host Alex Cohen called Norris a phenomenal talent.
"She balances a deep curiosity about so many things with a genuine warmth on air that has truly resonated with listeners for years. I look forward to tuning in no matter where she lands next,” Cohen said.
Norris says it's the NPR listeners she will miss most.
“NPR listeners are smart and engaged and hungry for knowledge. They keep you on your toes and they'll tap you on the shoulder and slap you on the back and knock you upside the head if you get something wrong," Norris said. "I’ve never served an audience quite like that.”