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NPR Turns 50 And Susan Stamberg Recalls A First

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED turns 50 this week. And to help mark that milestone, NPR founding listener Susan Stamberg recalls an interview she did in 1986.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: A beloved ALL THINGS CONSIDERED commentator, Kim Williams of Missoula, Mont. - although she said it much better.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

KIM WILLIAMS: This is Kim Williams in Missoula, Mont.

STAMBERG: She was a naturalist. She gave recipes for dandelion wine. She gave advice on when you ought to get married, what you ought to wear. Audiences adored everything she said. And at the age of 62, she called to tell us she had terminal ovarian cancer, that her days were numbered.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

STAMBERG: Kim, you - something you wrote about a friend who was dying and this very strong sense you have that death is merely a change and that at some point, you say hello to a whole lot of people who you've lost in this life.

WILLIAMS: Yes, and it is amazing how many letters I've already had before I put out that call - you know, more letters - how many I have received from people who say they are going to climb a mountain or walk along a river or on a city street, and they will send their thoughts and energies and they think that they will meet mine.

STAMBERG: I believe that.

WILLIAMS: I do, too.

STAMBERG: Kim, thank you very much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, sweetie.

STAMBERG: Goodbye.

WILLIAMS: Bye.

STAMBERG: Producer Neenah Ellis, who edited that tape, left in the sound of the phone hanging up. I had to close the program and read the closing credits. I began, but the sound of that click got to me. It was so final. So for the first time and maybe the only time in my radio life, I began crying on the air. But I kept on reading because I had to. We had to get off. When the program was rebroadcast for the Midwest and then the West rolled over the country, the click and the credits were cut out. But I hear them still every time I think about Kim's life and her much too early death.

CHANG: That is NPR's Susan Stamberg.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIMO ANDRES AND SUFJAN STEVENS' "V") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.