a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, February 16, 2009

NPR to discuss the Donora smog, briefly

One member of the national media isn't bored of the Donora smog story that turned 60 in October.

NPR dispatched a freelance reporter to the borough last week to conduct interviews for a broadcast tentatively scheduled to air on Earth Day.

Ann Murray of Pittsburgh used the new Smog Museum in Donora as a backdrop to discuss the nation’s worst air pollution event with Charles Stacey, a retired superintendent who survived the deadly air. Elsewhere, she interviewed Devra Davis, a leading expert on cancer who grew up in Donora and has written and spoken often about the killer smog.

The public radio station joins every local newspaper, The New York Times and a laundry list of other national media outlets that have marked the smog’s anniversary in print. The Weather Channel also began airing an hour-long docudrama about the smog in November.

Maybe editors and producers are taking another look at Donora because it became a catalyst for the nation’s first clean air laws, and there is a stronger case for problems associated with global warming. The struggling, decaying town is also a harsh reminder of the consequences of a decision by such a dominating industry as big steel to abandon a community it built.

NPR, though, is expected to give Donora just three minutes on its award-winning program, “This American Life,” from 4 to 6 p.m. April 22. It will be streaming, too, on Web.

(That's the Donora Smog Museum in the photo)

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