Leila Fadel will become the newest host of NPR’s flagship AM news show Morning Edition, the public media network announced Tuesday. She’ll also be a host of Up First, NPR’s daily news podcast. Fadel most recently covered race and identity as a national correspondent based in Los Angeles; she’ll move to DC for this job.
Fadel will join Rachel Martin, A Martínez, and Steve Inskeep in the hosts’ chairs. She replaces Noel King, who left NPR earlier this month for Vox. Reached by phone, Fadel says Inskeep made a big impression on her when she was the Washington Post‘s Cairo bureau chief: “I was like, Whoa, this is Steve Inskeep. And he actually speaks like that in real life.”
Morning Edition debuted in 1979, two years before Fadel was born. She’s covered the Iraq War for McClatchy and the Post and the 2013 coup in Egypt and its bloody aftermath for NPR. This past year, in addition to the very busy topics of race and immigration, she covered the fallout from the US’s decision to leave Afghanistan. Fadel, the daughter of an American and a Lebanese immigrant, spent part of her childhood in Saudi Arabia and summers in Lebanon—”places that were being covered by the English-speaking press, but [those reporters] didn’t represent people that looked and sounded like me or my family,” she says. “And so part of getting into this business, was to make sure that people recognize themselves to a certain extent, and I take that to all the stories I cover.”
Fadel will bring the expertise she’s honed as a reporter to the host’s chair, but she also looks forward to spotlighting reporting on science, the pandemic, and, when possible, fun topics. She hopes to have time to dig into the polarization that’s wreaking havoc on US political life—”political tribalism,” she says, is “something that I saw in Iraq, and Libya and Syria and Egypt.” The problem, she says, is “not unique to the US: This is something that we’re seeing in so many different countries, as the world becomes smaller and smaller, as we think about how people get information online.”
One way she hopes to break through the impasse? “Really, this is about advocating for the listener,” she says. “It’s about delving into subjects far and wide, things that I may be an expert on from past experience and things that I might not be. And then also letting people speak, have their moment, be able to explain themselves and what they’re thinking about what they’re going through.”
Despite a long tenure at the Post, she’s previously spent only about four months living in Washington. (NPR hasn’t yet announced what date she’ll start on the broadcast.) Morning Edition‘s famously wacky hours will actually bring some order to Fadel’s schedule: “I have never had very consistent hours,” she says. After the uprising in Egypt, she says, “I didn’t sleep for like, two years.”
“I wake up every morning, listening to Morning Edition to get a sense of what’s going on in the world,” she says. “I want to be part of that tradition of talking to reporters in the field, to experts, holding public officials to account asking them the questions that listeners have in their heads.”