NPR Names Ayesha Rascoe the Host of ‘Weekend Edition Sunday’

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Ayesha Rascoe, a White House correspondent for NPR, will be the new host of “Weekend Edition Sunday,” the public broadcaster announced on Friday.

She fills a role left by Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who hosted the program for five years until October, when she joined The New York Times’s Opinion audio team.

Ms. Rascoe will start on March 27, helming a newsmagazine program that is carried by nearly 800 public radio stations across the United States. She joined NPR in 2018, after nearly a decade as a reporter at Reuters. While there, she covered the end of the Obama administration and beginning of the Trump presidency, as well as energy and environmental policy news.

In an interview, Ms. Rascoe said her two times as guest host of “Weekend Edition” had shown her the breadth of stories she could tell.

“I was able to do the hard news that I loved, ask the hard questions, talk to the head of the E.P.A. and talk about politics and all those things that I love and am passionate about,” she said, “but then I was also able to interview Melanie Lynskey, who starred in ‘Yellowjackets,’ a show I was obsessed with.”

Ms. Rascoe will also host the “Up First” podcast on the weekends as part of her new role.

“Weekend Edition Sunday” has been on the air since 1987. Its Saturday counterpart is hosted by Scott Simon, who has been in the role since that show began in 1985 except for a brief time in the early 1990s.

NPR has been publicly criticized by some of its own employees in recent months over the departures of high-profile stars who are women of color, including Ms. Garcia-Navarro, Audie Cornish and Noel King. NPR’s media correspondent, David Folkenflik, tackled the issue in an article in January, reporting that NPR struggles to retain journalists of color and that hosts have complained of racial and gender pay disparities. Mr. Folkenflik also wrote that changes within the industry and the rise of podcasts meant the ambitions of many journalists had shifted.

Ms. Rascoe, who is Black, said that she felt supported in her time at NPR, but that the organization, and the rest of the media industry, still had work to do.

“In terms of diversity, no mainstream news organization is where it should be, that’s just a fact,” she said, adding: “NPR is no different in that. But every outlet could do better.”

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