All things considered, Susan Stamberg has decided to return to National Public Radio at least one day a week and Sunday is the day.
Stamberg will host a live, weekly two-hour radio magazine--featuring everything from a gourmet cooking segment to a running chapter-a-week "novel" to the commentary of cartoonist Jules Feiffer--beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday. "Weekend Edition" airs over more than 200 National Public Radio stations (including KCRW-FM (89.9) and KPCC-FM (88.5) in Los Angeles).
"It will combine the style and substance of the New York Times' Arts & Leisure section with the intimacy and spontaneity of the old 'Arthur Godfrey Show,' " said Stamberg.
--A pair of Boston mechanics, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who take call-in requests for information on buying, selling and fixing the family car.
--Celebrated California restaurateur Alice Waters, who shares her latest recipes.
--Games magazine editor Will Shortz, who plays aural crossword and logic games with listeners.
--"Newton's Apple" host Ira Flatow, who will do a weekly science feature.
--Time magazine writer Roger Rosenblatt, commentator Daniel Schorr and cartoonist Feiffer, who will offer reviews and comments and act as foils for Stamberg in discussing current events.
Perhaps the most intriguing experiment in "Weekend Edition" is a week-by-week "chain novel" for radio featuring contributions from well-known authors. Such writers as Herbert Gold, Rod MacLeish and Scott Spencer have agreed to write and read sequential chapters in a story tentatively entitled "Seeing the Lite."
"I told the writers that if they don't like what they read by the time the story gets to them, all they have to do is write: 'She woke up and realized it was only a bad dream,' " said Stamberg.
It is a cheery, low-key kind of day suitable for a cheery, low-key kind of approach to the news, according to Stamberg, who is best known for 16 years of hosting the original NPR news magazine, "All Things Considered."
"Day in and day out 'All Things Considered' is the most interesting program on the air," wrote veteran CBS news correspondent Charles Kuralt in the foreword to Stamberg's 1982 autobiography, "Every Night at 5."
"Notice I didn't say on the radio," Kuralt continued." 'All Things Considered' beats anything else on radio, television, shortwave, CB or ship-to-shore."
Ironically, Kuralt only will be able to hear the last 30 minutes of "Weekend Edition" and Stamberg won't be able to see "CBS Sunday Morning" with Charles Kuralt at all.
The much-honored CBS program, which takes a similar cheery, low-key approach to the news, is broadcast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. (locally over KCBS-TV Channel 2).
Stamberg says she has no problem. She can simply tape "Sunday Morning" on her VCR and watch it later in the day.
Kuralt could not be reached for comment Friday. According to CBS spokeswoman Phyllis Bush, he was on assignment, on the road and might even have a guest host sitting in for him this Sunday.
"He's probably in some barn somewhere doing an interview, knowing Charlie," she said.
Stamberg said she plans to send a Valentine to "CBS Sunday Morning" during the first show partially as an apology for going up against Kuralt.
"I got a post card from a Norma Lubell in Tulsa who writes, 'Life is unfair'," Stamberg said.
In her post card, Lubell lamented that she would now have to spend Sunday mornings jumping between the television set and the radio because the leisurely, contemplative approach both hosts bring to their programs are so much alike . . . and so good.
"It's a funny thing because when he started it ('Sunday Morning'), Charlie said he wanted to do a visual 'All Things Considered'," Stamberg said. "We keep going in circles here because now I feel like I'm back doing an audio 'Sunday Morning'."
With Stamberg's new program, National Public Radio has filled up morning and evening drive time seven days a week with its news and feature programming.
A similar "Weekend Edition" with host Scott Simon, which began airing a year ago on Saturday mornings, is continuing to air from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and the weekend version of "All Things Considered" still airs at 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
During the week, the program Stamberg pioneered 16 years ago--"All Things Considered"--still airs daily at 4 p.m. with her former co-host, Noah Adams, continuing as anchor. Stamberg left the show last fall to prepare her new Sunday program.
Her other former co-host, Bob Edwards, is beginning his sixth year of hosting "Morning Edition", the morning spinoff of "All Things Considered".
In Los Angeles, "Morning Edition" airs from 3 to 9 a.m. over KCRW and KPCC.