Melissa Block

Melissa Block joined NPR in 1985 and has been hosting All Things Considered since 2003, after nearly a decade as an NPR correspondent.

Frequently reporting from communities in the center of the news, Block was in Chengdu, China, preparing for a weeklong broadcast when a massive earthquake struck the region in May 2008. Immediately following the quake, Block, along with co-host Robert Siegel and their production team, traveled throughout Sichuan province to report extensively on the destruction and relief efforts. Their riveting coverage aired across all of NPR's programs and was carried on major news organizations around the world. In addition, the reporting was recognized with the industry's top honors including a Peabody Award, a duPont-Columbia Award, a National Headliner Award and the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Throughout her career, Block has covered major news events for NPR ranging from on-the-scene reporting from the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the days following Hurricane Katrina to a series from Texas gauging the impact of the Iraq War on the surrounding communities. Her reporting after the September 11, 2001 attacks was part of coverage that earned NPR a George Foster Peabody Award. Block's reporting from Kosovo in 1999 was cited among stories for which NPR News won an Overseas Press Club Award.

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Space
2:13 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

NASA Uses Photo Of Earth From Saturn To Boost Space Interest

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 9:29 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This week, NASA is trying to do its part to raise science literacy. To give people a better understanding of Earth's position in the solar system, the agency's posted a picture of our planet taken from a billion miles away, give or take 100 million miles or so. And joining me now to talk about the picture, and why NASA took it, is NPR's Joe Palca. Joe, good to see you.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Good to see you.

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Europe
2:24 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Investigators Take Action Following Heathrow Fire

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:31 pm

Nearly one week ago, a fire erupted inside a parked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 at London's Heathrow Airport. Thursday, the British Air Investigation Branch issued a bulletin urging the deactivation of an emergency transmitter on all 787s. The British investigators stopped just short of blaming the Emergency Locator Transmitter for the fire. But they did recommend that the Federal Aviation Administration order the deactivation of beacons on 787s under FAA authority. Melissa Block talks with NPR's Wendy Kaufman.

Middle East
5:37 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Chemical Weapons Use In Syria Crosses U.S. 'Red Line'

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Obama administration has now joined France and Britain in concluding that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people. That crosses a red line that President Obama has repeatedly warned would change the U.S. calculation in Syria.

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NPR Story
8:35 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Feds Drop Opposition To Restriction On Sales Of Morning-After Pill

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 6:11 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The morning-after pill will soon be available - without a prescription - on pharmacy shelves, with no restrictions on age. That's because the Obama administration has dropped a long-running battle to keep age restrictions on emergency contraception. NPR's Julie Rovner joins me to explain this policy change. And Julie, this was an unexpected development. It came tonight. What happened?

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Around the Nation
3:20 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Basements Not An Option For Many Homes In Oklahoma

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 4:40 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

During a tornado, the safest place to protect yourself is usually underground, but that's not an option for the large majority of people in southern Oklahoma. If you look just at new construction, fewer than 1 percent of homes in the area hit by the tornado have basements. Here to help explain why is NPR's Scott Neuman, who's written about this for our Two-Way blog.

And Scott, where I come from, a basement is a really common thing to have under the house. Not so in Oklahoma. Why not?

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Around the Nation
3:28 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

The Low-Tech Way Guns Get Traced

ATF Special Agent Charles Houser runs the National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 7:06 pm

Opponents of expanding background checks for gun sales often raise the fear that it would allow the government to create a national gun registry — a database of gun transactions. In fact, federal law already bans the creation of such a registry. And the reality of how gun sales records are accessed turns out to be surprisingly low-tech.

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Music News
3:22 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

When Clarence Thomas Wrote To George Jones

Brendan Banaszak NPR

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 3:55 pm

The news today that the great country singer George Jones had died at age 81 left me flooded with memories of my visit with him in 2010.

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Business
3:59 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Boeing's 787 Dreamliners To Fly Again After FAA Approval

Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 8:51 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And as we continue to cover the events in the Boston area, we want to also talk about one other story, Boeing 787. The jet known as the Dreamliner will be back in the air soon. This afternoon, the FAA approved Boeing's redesign of the plane's battery system. Fifty 787s have been grounded for the last three months following two serious battery failures, one which led to a fire.

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Around the Nation
3:37 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Letters To Mississippi Senator, Obama Show Signs Of Ricin

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:37 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And Tovia mentioned a different kind of attack, one that's the subject of a widening investigation here in Washington, D.C. A second letter thought to contain the poison ricin has been sent for further testing. That one was addressed to the White House. We heard yesterday about one addressed to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. Also today two Senate office buildings were locked down as the Capitol police investigated suspicious packages.

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Law
3:37 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Arrests Made In Deaths Of Texas DA, His Wife And Prosecutor

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:37 pm

In Texas, prosecutors have filed capital murder charges against the wife of a former Justice of the Peace in Kaufman County. Kim Williams is charged with the murder of the county District Attorney, his wife, and another prosecutor.

Law
3:37 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Senate Rejects Compromise On Expanded Background Checks

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:37 pm

The Senate has rejected a compromise background checks language pushed by Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey. It could mean the end of gun control legislation in Congress, at least for a while. Ailsa Chang joins Robert Siegel from the Capitol with the latest.

Asia
4:07 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Report: North Korea May Be Able To Deliver Nuclear Weapons

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. A stunning revelation today from a member of Congress. It came from Republican Doug Lamborn, of Colorado, during an exchange on Capitol Hill with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lamborn cited a Defense Intelligence Agency report on North Korea's military capability, one that had not yet been released. Here's what Rep. Lamborn said.

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Guns In America: A Loaded Relationship
5:55 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

On Gun Ownership And Policy, 'A Country Of Chasms'

Gun enthusiast Paul Gwaltney at Blue Ridge Arsenal, in Chantilly, Va. Gwaltney, an NPR listener, agreed to host a discussion about guns with friends and colleagues.
Becky Lettenberger NPR

The ideological gulf between gun owners and non-gun owners is a wide one — made all the more obvious by the ongoing debate over what, if any, gun control measures should be adopted in the U.S.

Sometimes, the debate feels like people are coming from different worlds, even for people within the same family. And while Americans are often willing to discuss their own views, it's rarer to hear conversations between people who own and love guns and those who do not.

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U.S.
4:02 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Among Thousands Of Gun Deaths, Only One Charles Foster Jr.

Led by the Rev. Willie Phillips (center), protesters march in February against violence in and around Club Majestic.
Mike Haskey Courtesy of The Ledger Enquirer

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 7:45 pm

The Morris Missionary Baptist Church is nestled down a red dirt road, in Morris, Ga., set among pine trees near the Alabama state line. Next to the small white church lies its most recent grave site: that of Charles Foster Jr.

While the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., garnered a frenzy of news coverage, statistically, they are not the norm. Each year, thousands of gun homicides in the U.S. — 11,000 in 2010 alone — attract little or no media attention.

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Politics
3:27 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Conservative Conference A Parade Of Potential Candidates For 2016

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 4:49 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Here in the nation's capitol, today is a day to talk about future agendas. For Democrats, it's about the second Obama term; for conservatives, it's the future of the Republican Party. We'll hear about both in the next few minutes, beginning with CPAC - that's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that opened today.

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Politics
2:55 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Obama Travels To Capitol Hill To Talk Gun Control, Tax Reform, And Spending Cuts

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 4:42 pm

President Obama came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, in the first of three planned visits to court lawmakers on a cluster of issues, from gun control legislation to a so-called grand bargain on tax reform and entitlement spending cuts. He spoke with Senate Democrats. Melissa Block talks to Ailsa Chang.

Politics
2:55 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Senate Committee Passes Bill Meant To Reduce 'Straw Purchases' Of Guns

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

The first major gun bills in nearly two decades had their first hearing in the Senate on Thursday, including an assault weapons ban and a ban on so-called "straw purchases." Still, even in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., the legislation faces an uphill battle. Ailsa Chang talks to Melissa Block.

Politics
2:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul Filibusters To Block Brennan's Nomination

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, more on the long speech Carrie mentioned from Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He's engaged in an old fashioned stand on the floor and talk till you can't filibuster. It began shortly before noon, aimed at blocking the president's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I've chosen to make a stand on this one and not so much the person, but the principle of this. I have nothing personally against Brennan. I have nothing personal against the president.

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Around the Nation
5:11 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Fugitive Ex-LAPD Officer Apparently Barracaded In Cabin

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 11:19 am

Kirk Siegler talks to Melissa Block for an update on the search for former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner. A man that authorities identified as Dorner was holed up in a cabin near Big Bear Lake, Calif., on Tuesday evening. Hundreds of officers surrounded the home. Dorner is wanted for questioning in three murders and one attempted murder.

Politics
3:28 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Obama To Focus On Job Creation, Economic Growth In State Of The Union

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 11:19 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And we turn now to the big political news of the day. In a matter of hours President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress, the first of his second term. Tens of millions of Americans will be watching as the president lays out his agenda and picks up where he left off in his inaugural address last month. He's expected to focus on job creation and talk about how leveling the playing field to give everyone a fair shot will help the economy grow.

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Economy
3:48 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

U.S. Economy Shrinks For First Time In Over Three Years

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 4:18 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The U.S. economy unexpectedly slammed to a halt in the last quarter of 2012. The Commerce Department said today that the nation's growth rate shrank during the last three months of the year, falling a tenth of a percentage point. That decline raises big questions about the strength of the economy going forward.

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Africa
2:24 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

U.S. May Build Base For Drones In Northwest Africa

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We're going to head west now, from Egypt across Libya to Niger. The Pentagon has signed a deal with the government there. The agreement could allow the U.S. to establish a forward base in Niger so that it could operate drone aircraft across northern and western Africa. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman has been reporting on the U.S. military's growing presence on the continent. He joins me now here in the studio.

And Tom, how close is the U.S. to actually setting up a drone base in Niger?

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Fine Art
3:12 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

In 'According To What?' Ai Weiwei Makes Mourning Subversive

Grapes, a spiky cluster of wooden stools from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is part of Ai Weiwei's repurposed furniture series.
Cathy Carver Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 2:48 pm

How do we honor the dead? How do we commit them to memory? And how do we come to terms with the way they died?

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Around the Nation
5:19 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Inaugural Balls Downsized The Second Time Around

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

So 9-year-old Lauren Kanabel there has a dream: a girl president elected in 2016. And whether or not that dream comes true, there will be inaugural balls. The tradition dates back to George Washington. Four years ago, President Obama attended ten inaugural balls, this year only two, both at the convention center here in Washington. And NPR's Allison Aubrey is there. She joins us by phone. Allison, the ball has been going on for a few hours now. What's the scene?

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Politics
8:18 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

House Pulls 'Plan B' Tax Measure From The Floor

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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Middle East
3:07 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Local Opposition Councils Act As Government In Parts Of Syria

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

To Syria now, where rebel forces are claiming a string of territorial gains, including six towns in the central province of Hama. As the fighting continues, there are also diplomatic efforts to establish leadership that could take over when Bashar al-Assad's regime falls. This month, more than 100 nations, organized as the Friends of Syria, backed an opposition coalition to replace Assad.

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Politics
2:56 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Boehner, Obama Closer To A Fiscal Cliff Deal But Not There Yet

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:16 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. One week before Christmas and there's still no deal to avert the big tax increases and federal spending cuts slated for the end of the year. Today, House Speaker John Boehner is floating the idea of a backup plan if talks between him and the president break down.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: At the same time that we're going to continue to talk with the president, we're going to also move plan B.

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Politics
2:27 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Republicans Counter With $2.2 Trillion Deficit Plan

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block.

And today there is a counter offer. Republicans have put forward the broad strokes of their proposal to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled at the end of the year. It should sound familiar to those who followed the presidential campaign. House Speaker Jon Boehner offered a plan that borrows heavily from ideas put forth by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

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Politics
3:25 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Of Top Taxpayers, 1 In 5 A Small Business Owner

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 3:37 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

One of the big sticking points in negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff is President Obama's insistence that income tax rates go up for the wealthiest Americans. Most congressional Republicans are against that idea. Here's House Speaker John Boehner yesterday.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Talks Resume As Deadline Ticks Closer

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 4:18 pm

Negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff remained low-key in the first day of congressional work following the Thanksgiving holiday. Tamara Keith talks to Melissa Block.

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