Renée Montagne is among the best known voices on NPR, having hosted its flagship Morning Edition for over 12 years after reporting on a vast array of subjects. Her features on Morning Edition often focused on the arts, especially musicians. Among them: Joni Mitchell enduring polio as a child and later giving up a baby for adoption; the teenage Elham Fanoos from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music becoming enchanted with the piano (in a country with no pianos) by watching Horowitz play Chopin on the internet; and world musician Johnny Clegg describing how his famous and achingly beautiful song Asimbonanga (Mandela) came to be.
In 1990, Montagne travelled to South Africa to report on the release of Nelson Mandela, arriving the day he emerged from 27 years in prison. She covered the transition to Black majority rule, including Mandela’s inauguration, winning the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia award along with a small team of NPR reporters.
After 9/11, Montagne began the first of 10 long reporting trips, traveling to every city and corner of Afghanistan. Among her first profiles: a potter who had just returned to his village, renowned for its blue pottery, to resume his ancient craft. She has followed the fortunes of Abdul Wakeel ever since. Montagne’s work in Afghanistan has brought listeners into the lives of Afghans, to hear stories of their hopes and challenges in a world of increasing violence.
Montagne began at NPR in 1986 as cohost of All Things Considered with Robert Siegel. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Berkeley and has taught broadcast writing at NYU’s graduate journalism department. Among the awards closest to her heart, Montagne has been honored by the Overseas Press Club for her Afghanistan reporting and by the National Association of Black Journalists for a her series on Black musicians going to war.