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 nine times, travelling 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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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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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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And I'm Renee Montagne. Just before noon yesterday, with much of Washington at home for a snowstorm that never really materialized, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky took the floor of the Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak.

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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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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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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

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President Obama is taking his campaign against gun violence to the country, beginning today with a trip to Minneapolis and a visit to that city's police department. Many police organizations favor tougher gun laws. The president leaves behind a new Congress that's getting down to business. And consuming most of lawmakers' time: the budget and the deficit.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. More signs today of a slow, slow economic recovery. The Labor Department reports the economy added 157,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly, to 7.9 percent. To tell us what's behind these numbers, we're joined by NPR business correspondent Yuki Noguchi, and also our White House correspondent, Scott Horsley. Good morning to both of you.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

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That sharp drop in government spending that put the squeeze on the economy last quarter, as we just heard, is likely to be repeated. This spring, the government is set to make additional cuts to spending, including defense, unless lawmakers agree on a different plan. So far there's little agreement in Washington about the optimum size or shape of government spending.

NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now to talk about this in our Business Bottom Line. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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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.

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President Obama's second inauguration is not expected to have record-setting crowds. Also, the president is not the same man as he was four years ago.

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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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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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And joining us now, as she does most Monday, is Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee. Happy New Year.

MONTAGNE: Happy New Year to you. So, Cokie, we seem to be getting the next year, or this new year, right back where we ended in the last Congress, and that's bickering over everything. And as we've just heard, that includes, big time, the president's cabinet appointment of a former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Tell us more about what's going on there, a little bit more history.

President Obama returns to Washington Thursday as do members of the U.S. Senate. They're cutting holiday plans short in hopes of coming up with a deal to avoid the tax hikes and budget cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.

After weeks of protests and intermittent violence, Egypt officially has a new constitution. Election officials say the Islamist-backed constitution passed a referendum with nearly 64 percent in favor. Secularists fear the charter would usher in Islamic rule and restrict freedoms.

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The contentious fight over labor rights has been unfolding throughout the Midwest in the last couple of years. Michigan is only the latest example.

NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea joins us now to explore the broader impact of all this. Good morning, Don.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So how is what has happened in Michigan different from what we've seen over the past couple of years in Wisconsin and Ohio, where Republican governors also took on labor unions?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held an emergency meeting with her Russian counterpart in Dublin Thursday to try to reach new consensus on how to end the Syrian conflict. A prominent human rights group has put the death toll in Syria at 42,000 people killed in the nearly two years of fighting there — which began with a series of political protests, and turned into an armed rebellion.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

After eight days and billions of dollars in lost business, the shutdown at the nation's busiest port hub is over. Striking clerks at the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have reached a tentative agreement with managers. At issue: worries about outsourcing jobs. The clerks, hundreds of them, and ten thousand longshoremen, who refused to cross picket lines, head back to work this morning.

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Let's talk about that new offer now. The proposal from House Republicans includes a combination of revenue raising and spending cuts. What it doesn't include is any rise in tax rates.

To help us dig into this offer and what it means for the state of negotiations, we're joined by NPR congressional reporter Tamara Keith.

Good morning.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: House Republicans are billing this as a bold counter-offer. Why are they calling it bold?

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who took power last June, is facing a rebellion against his rule. It all started with a set of controversial decrees by the president that put him above the law until a constitution is in place. That move has polarized the country. Judges are on strike and critics say the president is pushing through an illegitimate constitution.

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