Renee Montagne

Renee Montagne is co-host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most widely heard radio news program in the U.S. She has hosted the newsmagazine since 2004, broadcasting from NPR West in Culver City, California, with co-host Steve Inskeep in NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters.

Montagne is a familiar voice on NPR, having reported and hosted since the mid-1980s. She hosted All Things Considered with Robert Siegel for two years in the late 1980s, and previously worked for NPR's Science, National and Foreign desks.

Montagne traveled to Greenwich, England, in May 2007 to kick off the yearlong series, "Climate Connections," in which NPR partnered with National Geographic to chronicle how people are changing the Earth's climate and how the climate is impacting people. From the prime meridian, she laid out the journey that would take listeners to Africa, New Orleans and the Antarctic.

Since 9/11, Montagne has gone to Afghanistan ten times, traveling throughout the country to speak to Afghans about their lives. She's interviewed farmers and mullahs, poll workers and President Karzai, infamous warlords turned politicians and women fighting for their rights. She has produced several series, beginning in 2002 with 'Recreating Afghanistan" and most recently, in 2013, asking a new generation of Afghans — born into the long war set off by the Soviet invasion — how they see their country's future.

In the spring of 2005, Montagne took Morning Edition to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul ll. She co-anchored from Vatican City during a historic week when millions of pilgrims and virtually every world leader descended on the Vatican.

In 1990, Montagne traveled to South Africa to cover Nelson Mandela's release from prison, and continued to report from South Africa for three years. In 1994, she and a team of NPR reporters won a prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of South Africa's historic presidential and parliamentary elections.

Through most of the 1980s, Montagne was based in New York, working as an independent producer and reporter for both NPR and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter/editor for Pacific News Service in San Francisco. She began her career as news director of the city's community radio station, KPOO, while still at university.

In addition to the duPont Columbia Award, Montagne has been honored by the Overseas Press Club for her coverage of Afghanistan, and by the National Association of Black Journalists for a series on Black musicians going to war in the 20th century.

Montagne graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, as a Phi Beta Kappa. Her career includes serving as a fellow at the University of Southern California with the National Arts Journalism Program, and teaching broadcast writing at New York University's Graduate Department of Journalism.

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Russia's decision to allow Edward Snowden into the country as part of his around the world search for asylum has sparked outrage in Washington, D.C. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, appearing yesterday on CNN's "State of the Union," accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of aiding and abetting Snowden's escape.

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Alarm bells went off in China's financial system yesterday. That's because interest rates for loans that banks make to each other - like the loans we've just been hearing about - shot up, drying up credit as China's banks searched for cash. The effects reached markets here, where the Dow dropped more than 2 percent yesterday.

All of this seems to be caused by the Chinese government trying to send its banks a message. To explain what happened and why, we turn to NPR's correspondent in Shanghai, Frank Langfitt. Good morning.

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In Syria's ally Iran, people are voting for president today. It is Iran's first presidential election since the stunning vote in 2009. Back then, a surprisingly early declaration of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked a wave of protests, followed by years of government repression. This time around, six candidates are contending for power amid widespread skepticism about the election, and intensive security on the streets.

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The last remaining villages of the embattled Syrian region, Qusair fell to government forces and fighters from the Lebanese-Shiite militia, Hezbollah, over the weekend. The main concern now is what's happening to the civilians there. The Syrian government has severely limited humanitarian groups, like the Red Cross, from getting in and aiding the people of Qusair.

NPR's Kelly McEvers is monitoring the story from nearby Beirut. She joins us. And, Kelly, what is the situation for civilians in Qusair?

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There are no big surprises in this morning's job report from the government. The unemployment rate increased slightly on moderate job growth. It met or slightly exceeded expectations. This is one of the most significant economic indicators we look at every month, and joining us to discuss the Labor Department's report is NPR's Yuki Noguchi. Good morning.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What can you tell us about these numbers?

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In Syria, the battle for Qusair is over with the government saying it is in full control of that strategic town, which has been in rebel hands for two years. Qusair sits along a key supply route in and out of Lebanon. And one Syrian general, a government general, told Lebanon's Mayadeen TV that whoever controls Qusair controls the country.

NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Beirut. She joins us now for an update. Good morning.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, is that overstating the situation?

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With the Olympics set to begin in Russia this coming winter, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling the preparations, quote, "a monstrous scam." That language comes from a report just released that alleges massive theft and corruption. It estimates that contractors and government officials may have already stolen as much $30 billion dollars as they build Olympic venues in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

NPR's Corey Flintoff joined us on the line with us from Moscow. Good morning.

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London is no stranger to terrorist attacks. But yesterday's events had a peculiar horror. A British soldier was hacked to death on a London street. in broad daylight. His two attackers did not try to escape. They stuck around and made speeches to bypassers, trying to justify the brutal killing. Here's one attacker, addressing a passerby filming on a cellphone.

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Fahim Hashemi, 33, built a conglomerate from scratch. He owns a TV channel, an airline and supplies the Afghan National Army with boots and fuel. He got his start early in the war as a translator to U.S. and British forces.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep, in Washington, with David Greene.

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Italy has a new government, now that a new prime minister has been sworn in to preside over a grand coalition of that country's political parties, among them, the party of Silvio Berlusconi, if not the man himself. It took a lot of wrangling, leaving Italy without a government for two months, and it still has to get past a confidence vote in parliament today. We go now to NPR's Sylvia Poggioli in Rome. Good morning.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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Lawmakers in Cyprus are trying to ease rage over a proposed tax on all bank deposits by exempting people who have relatively small accounts. It's part of a bailout plan for that Mediterranean country negotiated with the E.U. and IMF over the weekend, but the compromise on taxes may not be enough for Cyprus' parliament to pass the plan.

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

Venezuela is in a state of mourning for its late president, Hugo Chavez. The outsized leader died yesterday in the capital, Caracas, after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 58. Hugo Chavez was both a polarizing and charismatic figure, and during his long rule he became an icon, beloved by Venezuela's poor and others in the region who admired his defiant stance toward the U.S.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Kenya votes for a new president today for the first time in five years. It's an important election, in part because the country is still haunted by the ethnic violence that bloodied the last presidential election in 2007. More than 1,200 people were killed and the violence only ended after the international community stepped in. NPR's Gregory Warner is out visiting polling stations and talking to people in Nairobi. He joins us to talk about the election. Good morning, Greg.

GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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We're hearing this morning that Pope Benedict has left the Vatican. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is covering the first papal retirement in 600 years, and she joins us now from Rome. And Sylvia, describe the scene for us there.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

After two years and an estimated 70,000 deaths, the U.S. is about to step up its involvement in Syria's civil war. The Obama administration has offered more direct aid to the Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the aid today after meeting with Syrian opposition leaders in Rome.

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Usually when we come up to the edge of one of these deadlines there are 11th-hour negotiations, and the two parties manage to swerve away from the precipice at the last minute. What about this time?

In Southern California, the week-long manhunt for Christopher Dorner appears to be over. He is the former LAPD officer who is believed to be responsible for four murders.

The Catholic church continues to grow in Africa, and analysts say that there is a good chance the next pope will be from Africa. In Mexico, Catholicism remains the predominant religion though the percentage is falling.

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Surprising news this morning from the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is resigning at the end of this month. It is an unprecedented departure in modern times. The last time a pope stepped down, it was 1415, the Middle Ages. At 85 years old, Benedict said he was no longer up to the physical demands of the papacy. We've got NPR's Sylvia Poggioli on the line now live from Rome. Good morning.

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Steve, thanks very much. Now let's go just beyond the capital building, into the National Mall. That's where NPR's Ailsa Chang is. And she's between the Capitol, as I understand it, Ailsa, and the Washington Monument, right there in the thick of things.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. One of the liveliest parts of today's events dates back to the very first Inauguration, and that would be the inaugural parade. After George Washington took his oath of office, he was joined by a procession made up of local militias as he made his way from Mount Vernon to New York City. Today, the parade is a colorful blend of marching bands, floats and different organizations led by ceremonial military regiments.

On Thursday, Algerian forces opened fire on Islamists holding dozens of foreigners hostage. The militants, who have been linked to al-Qaida, say they took over the gas facility deep into the Sahara Desert in retaliation for France's attack on Islamic militants in the west African nation of Mali.

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President Obama wants a Republican to be his next secretary of Defense, and some Republicans really don't like the choice.

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