Longtime NPR Correspondent Was 63 – Deadline

Wade Goodwyn, a longtime correspondent for NPR’s national desk who reported on Texas and the southwest, has died.

Goodwyn was 63. The cause was cancer, the news organization said.

He worked for the network for more than 30 years, mainly from Dallas.

NPR CEO John Lansing wrote in a memo to staffers, “For generations of public radio listeners, including me, he was one of NPR’s iconic voices. Aside from that instantly recognizable voice, Wade was a uniquely gifted storyteller and a brilliant reporter. From the first words of one of his stories, you always knew you were being taken on a journey by a master of our craft. You were in for a true treat, whatever the subject matter.”

Goodwyn covered stories ranging from the Oklahoma City bombing to the American Sniper murder trial, along with natural disasters and other major events. His coverage of a single mom who was falsely accused in a drug sweep inspired the movie American Violet.

His stories stood out in part because of his distinctive bass voice and accent, but his writing helped captivate listeners. As the network pointed out on Thursday, Goodwyn wrote and spoke this line in his coverage of Hurricane Rita in 2005: “In Louisiana, you hug your NASCAR teddy bear when the big blow comes, even if you’re a barrel-chested National Guardsman.”

According to a 2016 profile in Current, Goodwyn attended the University of Texas but moved to New York to work as a political organizer. Listening to the NPR station on his commute convinced him to make a career change, and he “talked his way” into meetings with network staffers.

He moved back to Texas to work as a freelancer, and had a breakthrough moment when he was assigned to help cover the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco in 1993. His approach to stories, even breaking news, was to convey to listeners vivid details. Just as memorable were features, including a 2017 piece on a Dallas street choir that performed at Carnegie Hall. NPR noted that the story brought some listeners to tears.

“My father was a great storyteller. I grew up with people telling stories, so I learned that that’s a natural way to impart one’s history and also one’s everyday life,” he told Current.

Goodwyn also did profiles of some of the state’s political stars, including George W. Bush, Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke.

Goodwyn is survived by his wife Sharon and two daughters, Hannah and Sam. He retired from the network in April.

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