Diane Rehm says farewell to 'The Diane Rehm Show'

diane rehm portrait 2

Diane Rehm thanked her listeners on Friday as she said farewell to "The Diane Rehm Show," a staple of public radio with fans all across the country.

"It's not goodbye, it's just farewell," she said.

Rehm, 80, is semi-retiring after four decades in broadcasting. Friday marked her final live broadcast.

"I began hosting my own program in 1979" at WAMU, an NPR-affiliated radio station in Washington, she said. "In 1995, NPR began distributing the show to stations across the country. It's been a wonderful 37 years with these outstanding organizations, especially wonderful because of all of you. So this is my chance to take your calls and say thank you for all the time we've had together on this program."

Famous fans like Julie Andrews, John Dickerson, Cory Booker and Judy Collins and regular listeners called in to honor Rehm. Some listeners said on social media that they teared up toward the end of the program.

While many of Rehm's longtime listeners are clearly anxious about a Trump presidency, Rehm expressed optimism about the future of the country and said "we're going to be OK."

She also alluded to shortcomings in campaign coverage by saying "what we in the press have not done enough of is to listen."

"I think there has to be much more active listening on the part of all of us, not just those who are part of the media, all of us," she said.

Looking ahead to family holiday gatherings, she said, "what I beg of you is, rather than arguing your point, listen to the others' perspective. Try to listen. Ask questions and engage rather than using your own points of view to shut people down."

Taped episodes of "The Diane Rehm Show" will air next week. On January 2, a new program called "1A," hosted by Joshua Johnson, will take Rehm's place on many local stations. WAMU said the name is inspired by the First Amendment.

After Rehm signed off at noon on Friday, her family members and staffers gathered for toasts at the station's headquarters. Rehm toasted Johnson, who was also on hand.

Rehm will continue to work with WAMU -- this time on a new podcast.

The station says the weekly podcast will start sometime in January, with Rehm talking with "newsmakers, writers, artists and thinkers on the issues she cares most about: what's going on in Washington, ideas that inform, and the latest on living well as we live longer."

At a Thursday night farewell party for the show, dozens of Rehm's friends and past guests feted the public radio icon. Rehm spoke briefly to thank the crowd, cracking a joke about how they all worked for free when appearing on the program.

NPR's senior director of promotion and audience development, Izzie Smith, said local stations were encouraged to heavily promote Rehm's farewell on Friday.

A Twitter hashtag, #ThanksDiane, collected messages of appreciation.

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday said that being on the air with Rehm "was like being conducted by Toscanini."

She thanked Rehm for making radio "a more civilized place!"

Wilson Center scholar Farahnaz Ispahani said Rehm is in "a class of her own. Will be greatly missed."

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