Kojo Nnamdi, long-running Washington radio host, is retiring from daily show after 23 years


The announcement ends Nnamdi’s 23-year run as the host of a noontime program that explored innumerable topics — transportation, education, gentrification, racial relations, architecture, food and culture — and almost all of it from a local perspective.

In a medium that tends to prize conflict and confrontation, Nnamdi conducted interviews with newsmakers and ordinary people with a calm but assured manner, his voice inflected with the rhythms of his native country, Guyana.

The station said Nnamdi’s Monday-Thursday slot would be temporarily filled by “The Takeaway,” a syndicated newsmagazine program produced in New York. His weekly politics program, co-hosted with former WRC and Washington Post journalist Tom Sherwood, will continue to air on Fridays.

A daily, local program that would permanently replace Nnamdi’s program is under development, WAMU said.

Nnamdi’s semi-retirement is another major change for WAMU, one of the largest and most popular public radio stations in the country. Veteran host Diane Rehm ended her WAMU-produced and nationally syndicated interview program in 2016. Her replacement, Joshua Johnson, left for an anchor job at MSNBC in late 2019 after just under two years on the air. The station’s general manager, J.J. Yore, who had overseen a dramatic increase in WAMU’s revenues and membership roles, left in July amid staff complaints over his handling of sexual harassment and racial equity complaints.

Like public and commercial radio stations across the country, WAMU, which is owned by American University in Washington, has been hurt by the loss of listeners and sponsorship revenue during the pandemic. As a cost-cutting measure, it declined to renew contracts for 13 employees at the end of 2020. The station said the staff of Nnamdi’s program would be laid off as well.

This story will be updated.

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