Noah Adams

Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk., focusing on the low-wage workforce, farm issues, and the Katrina aftermath. Now based in Ohio, he travels extensively for his reporting assignments, a position he's held since 2003.

Adams' career in radio began in 1962 at WIRO in Ironton, Ohio, across the river from his native Ashland, Kentucky. He was a "good music" DJ on the morning shift, and played rock and roll on Sandman's Serenade from 9 p.m. to midnight. Between shifts, he broadcasted everything from basketball games to sock hops. From 1963 to 1965, Adams was on the air from WCMI (Ashland), WSAZ (Huntington, W. Va.) and WCYB (Bristol, Va.).

After other radio work in Georgia and Kentucky, Adams left broadcasting and spent six years working at various jobs, including at a construction company, an automobile dealership and an advertising agency.

In 1971, Adam discovered public radio at WBKY, the University of Kentucky's station in Lexington. He began as a volunteer rock and roll announcer but soon became involved in other projects, including documentaries and a weekly bluegrass show. Three years later he joined the staff full-time as host of a morning news and music program.

Adams came to NPR in 1975 where he worked behind the scenes editing and writing for the next three years. He became co-host of the weekend edition of All Things Considered in 1978 and in September 1982, Adams was named weekday co-host, joining Susan Stamberg.

During 1988, Adams left NPR for one year to host Minnesota Public Radio's Good Evening, a weekly show that blended music with storytelling. He returned to All Things Considered in February 1989.

Over the years Adams has often reported from overseas: he covered the Christmas Eve uprising against the Ceasescu government in Romania, and his work from Serbia was honored by the Overseas Press Club in 1994. His writing and narration of the 1981 documentary "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown," earned Adams a Prix Italia, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award and the Major Armstrong Award.

A collection of Adams' essays from Good Evening, entitled Saint Croix Notes: River Morning, Radio Nights (W.W. Norton) was printed in 1990. Two years later, Adams' second book, Noah Adams on All Things Considered: A Radio Journal (W.W. Norton), was published. Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures (Delacore), Adams next book was finished in 1996, and Far Appalachia: Following the New River North, in 2000. The Flyers: in Search of Wilbur and Orville Wright (Crown) was published in 2004. Most recently Adams co-wrote This is NPR: The First Forty Years (Chronicle Books), to be released in November 2010.

Adams lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his wife, Neenah Ellis, is the general manager of NPR member station WYSO.

Here's what might have sounded like a pretty shaky business plan for a neighborhood pizza cafe: "We'll only be open one day a week. Won't do any advertising. No prices on the menus. We'll serve mostly what we grow in the garden – and no pepperoni. And we'll look on this work as an 'experiment of faith.'"

That's what Erin and Robert Lockridge said two years ago, when they decided to open a pizza place called Moriah Pie in Norwood, a small town part of greater Cincinnati.

Saturday marks the 140th Run for the Roses: the Kentucky Derby. Great horses, great hats — but where's the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon for the mint juleps?

Last October, more than 200 bottles of the prized spirit were stolen right out of the distillery in Frankfort, Ky. The county sheriff believes it was an inside job, and a $10,000 reward remains on offer.

In new installment of the Spring Break series, Noah Adams visits the Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. It's not a burial site; it's a massive, grass-covered effigy of a snake, created a thousand years ago.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In early January, West Virginia's Elk River was contaminated by a chemical spill near Charleston. NPR's Noah Adams returns to the Elk nearly two months later to follow the course of the river.

The Steinway piano company has a new owner. This fall, the investment firm Paulson & Co. — led by billionaire John Paulson — spent about $500 million and bought all of Steinway & Sons, the venerated piano maker.

The deal includes a foundry in Springfield, Ohio, where the Steinway pianos are born in fire.

The O.S. Kelly Foundry has been making Steinway's plates since 1938. The plate is the cast-iron heart of a piano: It holds the steel wire strings with 40,000 pounds of tension, the company says. It allows vibrations to arise in a concert hall as music.

One year ago the Michigan apple harvest, hurt by a late winter warm-up and a spring freeze, was almost nonexistent at 3 million bushels. This fall, the crop is projected to yield a record-setting 30 million bushels, but now there's concern that not enough pickers will be in the orchards.

As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, All Things Considered concludes its series about the moments that defined the historic summer of 1963. Back in 1999, Noah Adams explored the history and legacy of the song "We Shall Overcome" for the NPR 100. The audio link contains a condensed version of that piece.

The writer Elmore Leonard has died. He was 87 years old and had recently suffered a stroke.

For decades, Leonard — working at the very top of his profession as a crime writer — had been widely acclaimed, and universally read. He published 46 novels, which resulted in countless movie and TV adaptations, including the movies Out of Sight and Get Shorty and the TV series Justified.

Upon hearing news of the death of Elmore Leonard, NPR correspondent and former All Things Considered co-host Noah Adams recalls a day he spent with the crime writer in his hometown.

Three years ago, I rode with Elmore Leonard in the back of a rental car to see Detroit and remember what it once was. Much of it was sadly puzzling to him, especially the empty space where Tiger Stadium had been.

How do you fix a neighborhood? What do you do about crime and drugs and the once-lovely old houses that are falling down? The answer in Paducah, Ky., was to turn it into a special place for artists to live, work and sell.

Paducah, already home to the National Quilt Museum, is far west on the edge of Kentucky, on the Ohio River. Lowertown, so-named for being downriver from downtown Paducah, was once quite elegant — 25 square blocks. But in time it became a difficult place to admire.

At 41, with long black hair, Stuart Neville looks more like the rock guitarist he used to be than the author he is now. He lives in a small town with his family — not in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the city that plays a central role in his thrillers, but just outside it.

When a tornado roars into a populated area, the change is often drastic and deadly, and it happens within minutes. As the people of Oklahoma struggle to look beyond this month's devastating storms, residents of Xenia, Ohio, are reflecting on the tornado of 1974.

Xenia, in southwest Ohio near Dayton, became well-known to the nation that year. "Everywhere I go, and I've been all over the U.S., if I say I'm from Xenia people say, 'tornado,' " says Catherine Wilson, who runs the historical society in Xenia. She still gets a lot of questions about the twister.

Last year, almost the entire Michigan apple crop was lost because of 80-degree days in March and then some freezing April nights. This year, the apples are back, but everything always depends on the weather. The state was under a freeze warning Sunday night — a scary prospect if you're an apple grower and your trees have just come into bloom.

Picture a tiny town set along a creek in West Virginia. A mountain rises from the town's eastern edge, overlooking the 1,400 people living below. Then, July comes — and 50,000 people arrive on that mountain for the National Scout Jamboree.

The town is called Mount Hope. I've heard some call it "Mount Hopeless." The town went through the long, downward slump from the boom days of deep-mine coal, when it was a grand, small-town capital of coal mining.

On the shores of Lake Michigan, the tiny town of Ludington, Mich., is home port to the last coal-fired ferry in the U.S. The SS Badger has been making trips across the lake to Manitowoc, Wis., during the good-weather months since 1953. And as it runs, the 411-foot ferry discharges coal ash slurry directly into the lake.

An Environmental Protection Agency permit allows the Badger to dump four tons of ash into the lake daily. But now, the agency has put the permit under review — and that means the Badger could stop sailing.

If the voters in Louisa, Ky., had their wish, Mitt Romney would have taken the oath of office Monday. Louisa is in eastern Kentucky, and "coal" was the one-word issue in the election. President Obama is seen as an enemy of coal mining and he got only 27 percent of the vote in the county.

And now comes word that Louisa is going to lose its biggest industry — a power generating plant that's been burning coal since 1962.

It used to be said that only old men drink rye, sitting alone down at the end of the bar, but that's no longer the case as bartenders and patrons set aside the gins and the vodkas and rediscover the pleasures of one of America's old-fashioned favorites.

Whiskey from rye grain was what most distilleries made before Prohibition. Then, after repeal in 1933, bourbon, made from corn, became more popular. Corn was easier to grow, and the taste was sweeter.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but what do you do when there are no apples? It's a question western Michigan's apple growers are dealing with this season after strange weather earlier in the year decimated the state's apple cultivation.

Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington, but the state's apples will soon be in short supply. Now in the middle of harvest season, growers are picking only 10 percent to 15 percent of their normal crop.

Ask Harry Dolan to take you for lunch at a restaurant he's written about, and he won't disappoint. In downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., on Liberty Street, the vegetarian restaurant Seva serves mushroom sliders and yam fries that both the crime writer and his characters are quite fond of. With any luck, you'll also catch the perfect song playing in the background — "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads.

At the heart of the small town of Milan, Ohio, there's a graceful and tree-lined town square. It makes a good gathering spot for the classic cars and trucks of decades past.

A 1923 T-Bucket Ford, a '77 Chevy El Camino, a '68 AMC AMX, a '46 Dodge truck, a '59 Ford Galaxie — they all keep arriving after 5 o'clock every Tuesday evening. As the owner-drivers park around the square, engine hoods go up, lawn chairs come out — and the admiration begins.

Mingo County, deep in the southwest corner of West Virginia, has sent a "protest vote" to the attention of President Obama. In the May 8 Democratic primary, voters chose a man named Keith Judd to run for president. He got 61 percent of the vote.

Judd won't be available. He's serving a 17-year sentence for extortion. From prison in Texas, he managed to file the papers, pay the fee and get on the West Virginia ballot.

When the gates fly open at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, all eyes will be on the 20 racehorses that launch themselves into the 138th Kentucky Derby. That's a lot of horses, and a special challenge for the men charged with getting them into the starting gate safely.

Caleb Hayes, 24, has been part of the 12-man start crew for the past six years. The 9-to-5 life isn't for him, he says — he loves his job and likes working the gate side by side with the older guys.

It's just after sunrise outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, when 20 B-25 bombers start showing up in the western sky.

Part of a monthlong series

NPR's Hard Times series features stories of economic hardship and also stories of hope. We asked for ideas from listeners, and Emily Nugent of Berea College in Kentucky responded, writing: "With a student body composed entirely of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Berea students know about the challenges Americans are facing." Noah Adams went in search of Emily and the Berea College story.

Many horse racing fans swear by — and sometimes possibly at — the Daily Racing Form. It's the newspaper of the thoroughbred industry.

Before you bet that exacta, you can check out a horse's pedigree, race experience and morning workout times. You'll see which mares have been bred to which stallions.

The Keeneland race track in Lexington, Ky., holds a vast collection of Daily Racing Form issues, and further efforts are under way to preserve every issue and establish a digital archive.

Want To Pick A Winner? Read The Form