NPR said on Wednesday that Juana Summers would be the newest co-host for “All Things Considered,” its flagship newsmagazine, replacing Audie Cornish, the longtime co-host who left this year to start a program for the short-lived CNN+ streaming service.
Ms. Summers, a veteran political correspondent whose peripatetic career has taken her to news media start-ups including Mashable and traditional news organizations such as The Associated Press, will start on June 27.
“Juana has all of the things: She’s a first-rate journalist with an enviable track record, she’s a natural leader who connects people and makes them feel heard, and she has an instinct for creative storytelling that is second to none,” said Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for news.
Ms. Summers, 33, takes over the job in the wake of several high-profile departures from the public radio network. Ms. Cornish said in January that she was leaving NPR to host a weekly show for CNN+, a streaming service that CNN’s new owners shut down shortly after it started. Lulu Garcia-Navarro, a co-host of “Weekend Edition,” left in November to host a podcast for The New York Times. And Noel King, a co-host of “Morning Edition,” left to join Vox Media to host “Today, Explained,” a daily podcast.
Many of the hosts who left NPR in recent months come from racial or ethnic groups that are underrepresented in U.S. newsrooms. Ari Shapiro, a co-host of “All Things Considered,” wrote on Twitter that the network was “hemorrhaging hosts from marginalized backgrounds,” referring reporters to Isabel Lara, the network’s head of communications, for comment. Ms. Lara said hosts who had been brought in to replace those who left were from underrepresented backgrounds and had extensive public radio experience.
Ms. Summers, who is Black, said she thinks NPR has a good track record on promoting journalists from underrepresented backgrounds, pointing to Ms. Cornish’s decade-long stint hosting “All Things Considered” and her own career at NPR, where she has risen through the ranks. But she said every company in America, including NPR, had more work to do on that front.
“I always think that more can be done to recruit and retain and to cultivate women, people of color and people from marginalized communities,” Ms. Summers said. “That’s the work that we all need to be doing every single day.”
In recent years, NPR has repackaged popular shows such as “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition” in digital formats like podcasts. Ms. Barnes said those efforts, along with the network’s push to diversify its staff, were part of an effort to make itself relevant to changing American audiences.
“You can’t do that without having a diverse staff that actually represents the whole of America,” Ms. Barnes said. “In addition, we know that the audiences of the future are on new and different platforms. And if we want to reach younger and more diverse audiences, we have to be there with them.”
In an interview, Ms. Summers said she hoped to explore subjects not often associated with NPR, where politics and international coverage is a mainstay.
“I think sports stories are cultural stories,” Ms. Summers said. “They’re business stories, they’re stories of empowerment and competition.”
Growing NPR’s audience is also a business priority for the public radio network. During the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, NPR was at risk of laying off staff when sponsors canceled their spots on the network, said John Lansing, NPR’s chief executive.
Since then, sponsorship revenue has returned, Mr. Lansing said, and NPR was able to navigate the pandemic without cutting staff.
“We managed to get through that year, tough as it was, and to end the year break even,” Mr. Lansing said.