Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a link to the audio of Rachel Martin’s story on Idaho Falls High School. The story aired Aug. 16.
NPR “Morning Edition” co-host Rachel Martin returned to her hometown of Idaho Falls last week to report on high school reminiscences.
Martin hosts the popular national radio show five days a week with Steve Inskeep and David Greene. NPR announced in March that its ratings had reached an all-time high and that “Morning Edition” had reached its largest weekly audience in its 38-year history with 14.65 million listeners. Before joining “Morning Edition” in December, Martin hosted the “Weekend Edition Sunday” program for the previous four years, and prior to that served as a foreign correspondent, religion correspondent and national security correspondent for NPR.
Martin said with so much hard-hitting political news, the staff at NPR wanted to have a lighter story for the summer.
Martin attended Idaho Falls High School 25 years ago, and said she remembered it as a time fraught with insecurities and feelings of being misunderstood.
“I started to feel suffocated in the school, in the town,” she said. “And I just wanted to be gone.”
Now in Washington, D.C., and an adult, Martin said she got what she desired and is content with how her life turned out.
“I wanted to be out in the world,” Martin said. “I knew I wanted to see other places and learn about different people, and in that way, I got to have that because I found a job — I found a career that lets me. And so I get to indulge my curiosity every day and I feel really lucky about that.”
Martin said while she never envisioned having a family, she is also happy to be married with two children, ages 3 and 5. She said although high school was a difficult time, she enjoyed going back and seeing the old building again.
“The building itself has so much history in it,” she said. “And it was great to be able to walk around those halls and think about the generations of kids that went through there.”
In January, the Idaho Falls District 91 board announced a decision to rebuild Idaho Falls High School. Martin said when she visited Idaho Falls, she heard the rumors her old school might be decommissioned.
“I would have to admit, I was really sad,” she said. “It’s the oldest school in town, and you can see that age, but it’s also what makes it such a special place.”
She said she remembered her English teacher Shirley Murphy heading assemblies in the school where she let the students ask what being African-American was like. Martin said at the time, Murphy was the only African-American teacher in the high school. While in Idaho Falls, Martin said she had the chance to speak to Murphy along with people she graduated with.
After only 24 hours, Martin said she left Idaho Falls to return to a more complicated news world. While high school is a place full of misunderstandings, Martin said the news world can often be much the same.
“We’re living through a challenging time when it comes to the American population’s perception of media,” she said.
She said it is important for people to “work at a healthy news diet” and consume information from a variety of news sources without assuming they will be “spoon-fed the truth.”