After almost five years hosting the podcast and radio show It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders, Sam Sanders has decided to leave NPR. His last day will be Friday, March 11. Sam joined NPR in 2009 as a Kroc Fellow, and after being a field producer and breaking news reporter, in 2015 he became a key member of NPR’s Election unit and one of the original co-hosts of the award-winning NPR’s Politics Podcast. He also spent time at three Member stations: WUNC in North Carolina, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and WBUR in Boston, as an intern for On Point.
In 2017 after taking a well-deserved break from political coverage, Sam became the host of It’s Been a Minute, a show that is not just about what’s behind the week’s headlines, but what it feels like to process them. Since the show’s launch Sam has interviewed entertainers, journalists, authors — many of them right before they became household names. Back then Sam said: “I want this podcast to sound just like the way I talk with my friends, when we get together and catch up on the week. We don’t just talk about politics or Beyoncé, or international diplomacy or memes — we talk about all of it, and we do it without pretense. I want the show to sound just like that, and make the same kind of connections.”
Sam won this year’s iHeart Award for Best Overall Host (male) and the Los Angeles Press Club National A&E Journalism award for best anchor/host radio, where the judges’ comment was: “Host is easy to listen to and knows when to get out of the way and let the guest take it away.” IBAM was the recipient of the NLGJA’s 2021 Excellence in Podcast Awards, the 2020 Discover Pods award for Society & Culture Podcast, a finalist for the 2021 NAHJ Ñ Awards and in 2019 won the SAG-AFTRA Belva Davis News & Broadcast Award honoring producers who realistically portray the American Scene. Sam is also nominated for this year’s Best Podcast Host by the Podcast Academy (The Ambies).
It’s Been A Minute will continue as a podcast and radio show on 441 stations, with guest hosts —some of whom you may have heard as panelists before— while NPR conducts a national search for a new host.
Here’s Sam’s note to NPR Staff:
A thing I have always loved about It’s Been A Minute is that it’s kind of hard to define. Is it a news show? An entertainment show? Both? Is it a gay show? A black show? A straight-ahead interview show or something much more complex? I could give you several different answers to all those questions.
But what I have landed on is this: IBAM at its core is a show about the world we live in in which everyone you hear — the guests, the hosts, the listeners — gets to be their fullest self. It embraces *identity* — the identities we all bring to our news consumption. The lived experiences we bring to the entertainment we consume, the art we create, and all of the work we do. IBAM has always been, and will remain, a decidedly joyful rejection of the idea that news and current events must be discussed in a way that divorces who we are from what’s going on in the world.
I am so honored to have been able to test this theory twice a week, every week, for almost five years. At one of the greatest journalistic institutions in the world, no less.
I’m also grateful for all I got to do at NPR before It’s Been A Minute. Working as a field producer and traveling all over the country, even covering an Olympics. Reporting on breaking news and then politics, getting on the trail and covering a presidential campaign! Helping launch the NPR Politics Podcast. Spending time at NPR member stations WBUR, OPB and WUNC. The public radio system taught me how to be a journalist, and then let me try my hardest to constantly challenge what that means.
What a wonderful ride.
I have spent about a third of my life employed by NPR. And I am so grateful to all my colleagues at the mothership and every single member station for all they’ve taught me. And now it’s time to go.
I’m taking about a month off, and then I’ll be making something new again. I’m hoping to use this little break to do a few things: finally get a tattoo, make a decision about a rug purchase I’ve put off for months, watch the entirety of one of my favorite sitcoms, Happy Endings, again, get to the desert for a few days, if not longer.
I will also keep listening, because how could I not. NPR and public radio is part of me now; over these last 12 years, it’s seeped into my bones and burrowed deeply into my heart. Everything I do after my time here will be informed and enriched by this community. Thank you all.
More to come. Talk soon.
And here’s an excerpt from SVP of Programming Anya Grundmann’s note about Sam’s departure:
I’ll join the hundreds of people across NPR and millions of people across the land at Member stations and in our audiences to say thank you, Sam. You have made a huge impact on our work, our audience service, and our organization.
In every role he has had at NPR, Sam has brought tenacity, wit, humanity, and a drive for answers. From his start at NPR as a Kroc Fellow, his essential role on the NPR Politics team, co-hosting the NPR Politics podcast, and launching It’s Been a Minute as both a podcast and then radio show, Sam has asked the questions no one else was asking, and built connections with audiences that are personal, respectful, and uplifting.
Audiences don’t just listen to Sam, they love him. He has an ability to connect with people regardless of what he is covering. As a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast, Sam brought himself to an often relentless and intense political beat in a way that made coverage of tough news feel personal. Later, with IBAM, he used that talent to build a new kind of show that is both celebratory and informative, inspiring and probing, bringing diverse topics and guests into a space that sounds and feels just like conversation among friends.