Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Montagne’s most recent assignment was a yearlong collaboration with ProPublica reporter Nina Martin, investigating the alarming rate of maternal mortality in the U.S., as compared to other developed countries. The series, called “Lost Mothers,” was recognized with more than a dozen awards in American journalism, including a Peabody Award, a George Polk Award, and Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The series was also named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
From 2004 to 2016, Montagne co-hosted NPR’s Morning Edition, the most widely heard radio news program in the United States. Her first experience as host of an NPR newsmagazine came in 1987, when she, along with Robert Siegel, were named the new hosts of All Things Considered.
After leaving All Things Considered, Montagne traveled to South Africa in early 1990, arriving to report from thereon the day Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison. In 1994, she and a small team of NPR reporters were awarded an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for their coverage of South Africa’s historic elections that led to Mandela becoming that country’s first black president.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Montagne has made 10 extended reporting trips to Afghanistan. She has traveled to every major city, from Kabul to Kandahar, to peaceful villages, and to places where conflict raged. She has profiled Afghanistan’s presidents and power brokers, but focused on the stories of Afghans at the heart of that complex country: school girls, farmers, mullahs, poll workers, midwives, and warlords. Her coverage has been honored by the Overseas Press Club, and, for stories on Afghan women in particular, by the Gracie Awards.
One of her most cherished honors dates to her days as a freelance reporter in the 1980s, when Montagne and her collaborator, the writer Thulani Davis, wereawarded “First Place in Radio” by the National Association of Black Journalists for their series “Fanfare for the Warriors.” It told the story of African-American musicians in the military bands from WW1 to Vietnam.
Montagne began her career in radio pretty much by accident, when she joined a band of friends, mostly poets and musicians, who were creating their own shows at a new, scrappy little San Francisco community station called KPOO. Her show was called Women’s Voices.
Montagne graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley. Her career includes teaching broadcast writing at New York University’s Graduate Department of Journalism (now the Carter Institute).