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.

You don't host All Things Considered without having a list of memorable interview moments with musicians, actors and authors.

On her last day as host, NPR's Melissa Block takes a look at some of the highlights over her 12 1/2 years as one of the voices of All Things Considered.

You might think you know what frogs sound like — until, that is, you hear the symphony of amphibians that fills the muggy night air at Nokuse Plantation, a nature preserve in the Florida Panhandle.

There, about 100 miles east of Pensacola, a man named M.C. Davis has done something extraordinary: He has bought up tens of thousands of acres in the Florida sandhills and turned them into a unique, private preserve.

Drive down gravel Road 22 in Nebraska's York County, past weathered farmhouses and corn cut to stubble in rich, black loam soil, and you'll find a small barn by the side of the road.

Built of native ponderosa pine, the barn is topped with solar panels. A windmill spins furiously out front.

Known as the Energy Barn, it's a symbol of renewable energy, standing smack on the proposed route of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline — a project of the energy giant TransCanada.

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Keystone XL - for years now, the pipeline has been tied up in polarizing argument about energy, jobs and the environment. Keystone's been argued in the U.S. Congress, in state court, at protests around the country and on late-night television.

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This will not be your average kayaking story.

IDA PARKER: I did see the shark grab the kayak and flip it over.

Regulations passed in Texas, which affected clinics that perform abortions there, were set to go into effect on Sept. 1. On Friday, a federal judge blocked those regulations, on the grounds that they unconstitutionally restricted access to legal abortion.

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The mother of slain journalist James Foley says in an interview with NPR's All Things Considered that the family did not want him to return to Syria after a brief trip back to the United States in 2011.

"We really did not want him to go back," Diane Foley tells host Melissa Block. "I must be honest about that," she says of her son, who was killed by Islamic State militants in Syria earlier this month.

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It has become a cliche for news reporters and anchors.

(SOUNDBITE OF VARIOUS NEWSCASTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We are inside the Beltway.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Inside the Beltway.

College athletes scored a major victory in court Friday. A federal judge issued a ruling that the NCAA violated antitrust law by prohibiting athletes from payment for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The ruling addressed football and basketball players in particular.

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OK, grab the tissues, get a firm shoulder to lean on. It's time for a big cry.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANCHORMAN")

WILL FERRELL: (As Ron Burgundy) (Crying).

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President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the influx of immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing Thursday about the request.

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Now to a modern twist on an old tale of an anthropomorphic egg.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We're talking, of course, about Humpty Dumpty. You know, the one who sat on a wall and had a great fall. And then there was the mess with all the king's horses and all the king's men. And Robert, you know the rest. They couldn't put Humpty together again.

SIEGEL: But Mr. Dumpty may have a happier ending at the Enchanted Forest theme park in Salem, Oregon. This real-life nursery rhyme starts out in a similar way.

In its first match of the knockout round, the U.S. soccer team plays Belgium on Tuesday. NPR's Tom Goldman previews the game, explaining what to expect from the matchup.

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That's the sound of another 3-D technology, that's increasingly being used in medicine, 3-D printing. Doctors are now using 3-D printers to make replacement body parts, among other things. The printer we're hearing is at the Food and Drug Administration offices, outside Washington D.C. This is an area they are starting to regulate. So NPR's Rob Stein went and got a little tour of the FDA lab.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Is that white, plastic thing, below the nozzle there - is that what's being made?

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ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: And I'm Melissa Block. Instead of taking their usual summer vacation, the TV networks are working to get your attention this summer. They're hoping to lure your eyes away from cable channels and online shows. To talk about some of the hot summer programming that will be on the schedule, I'm joined now by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. And Eric, summer is usually when the networks slow down, but not this year. What's going on?

Information tracked by educational software can be of great help to teachers. But as Politico's Stephanie Simon explains, private companies can also monetize the data by selling it to marketers.

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At Arlington National Cemetery on this memorial day President Obama paid tribute to the country's war dead. The President had just returned from a weekend visit to Afghanistan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVAL RECORDING)

The federal Medicare program for the elderly and disabled will cover two new drugs that can cure hepatitis C, a liver disease that can cause cancer and lead to death. The drugs are very expensive, but they cure hepatitis C in most cases. The government and insurers are concerned about these costs; three million Americans have hepatitis C, most of whom don't know they have it.

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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This next story is literally about the word...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Literally.

CORNISH: ...literally. As in a literal sense or manner.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

That's also the name of a free Internet browser extension created by New York programmer Mike Lazer-Walker.

MIKE LAZER-WALKER: So all it does, you install it in your Web browser, and then any website you visit, any time the word literally is printed, it instead replaces it with figuratively.

Today Cotulla, Texas, is reaping the benefits of an oil and natural gas boom in the Eagle Ford Shale. But in 1928, the South Texas town was incredibly poor — and that's how Lyndon Johnson saw it when he had his first job there at age 20.

South Texas is in the midst of a massive oil boom. In just a few years, it has totally transformed once-sleepy communities along a crescent swoosh known as the Eagle Ford Shale formation and has brought unexpected prosperity — along with a host of new concerns.

Among the towns drastically changed by the drilling is Cotulla, southwest of San Antonio, about 70 miles up from the border with Mexico. The area is called brush country — flat, dry ranch land, scrubby with mesquite and parched by drought.

Flags are fluttering at half-staff across Killeen, Texas, after yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood. This is a city that's all too familiar with spasms of extreme gun violence: a shooting rampage at Luby's Cafeteria in 1991 that left 23 dead.

From Killeen, Texas, where Fort Hood is based, Melissa Block talks to soldiers who were on base during the shooting, as well as with Killeen's mayor. The mayor explains how the town is trying to cope.

Texas is in the midst of a population boom and demographic sea change. It's grown faster than any other state and has more than doubled its population in just 40 years, from 11 to 26 million people.

And overwhelmingly, the fastest growth is among Hispanics who now make up 38 percent of the state's population and will be the largest single group in Texas by 2020.

Majority Minority State

A deceptively simple leg brace is changing the lives of hundreds of wounded service members. Soldiers with badly injured legs who thought they'd have to live with terrible pain can walk and run again, pain-free.

Earlier this month, Army Spc. Joey McElroy took his first steps in the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO (pronounced: eye-DAY-oh). The device squeaked a bit as he stepped briskly on an indoor track.

McElroy was hit by a car and thrown from his motorcycle on Dec. 5, 2012.

Nick Preuher is no chef; he only plays one on TV. More accurately, he has pretended to be one, appearing on various local morning television shows as a prank.

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Finally this hour: Your letters. We heard from Aaron Berger, a high school biology teacher in Minneapolis. He listened closely to our conversation this week about mitochondrial DNA. A debate is raging over whether women who want to have children but have errors in their DNA should be allowed to get a healthy transplant.

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There's new evidence out today that's raising questions about whether women in their 40's and 50's should routinely undergo mammography to detect breast cancer. A new analysis of a big Canadian study found no evidence that regular mammograms save lives. The study even suggests that for many women, regular breast X-rays may do more harm than good.

NPR's Rob Stein joins us now to talk about this report. It appears in the British medical journal BMJ.

The home of Sean Morey bears the impressive signposts of his 10-year career in the NFL: a Vince Lombardi trophy for his Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. A hefty Super Bowl ring. A framed photograph showing Morey in midair, launching himself like a missile to block a punt. With that play in 2008, his Arizona Cardinals became the only team in NFL history to win a game in overtime with a blocked punt.

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