NPR Reduces Its Horticultural Reporting Staff from One to Zero


This just in: Ketzel Levine was one of the reporters laid off during the latest round of cuts at NPR. You know Ketzel from her coverage of any number of interesting plant-related stories on NPR over the years, and from her NPR-hosted blog, Talking Plants.  She’s also the author of Plant This!, a guide to gorgeous year-round plants.

So here’s how I look at this.  There’s the animal kingdom.  That includes us and everything we do, so it gets quite a bit of coverage in the news.  Then there’s the plant kingdom.  That includes all green life growing on the planet.  It provides the air we breathe and the food we eat.  So it’s pretty important, too.

(Other kingdoms–Linneaus liked the idea of a mineral kingdom, but a kingdom of rocks didn’t get far–and then of course there’s the fungi kingdom, and important but less-appreciated kingdoms of bacteria and other microorganisms–your Protista, your Archaea, and your Eubacteria–but I digress–)

My point is that gardening and horticulture are ways in which we humans go outside and INTERACT WITH THE PLANT KINGDOM.  Which, you know, seems pretty important.  And newsworthy.

Why NPR would cut its coverage of All Things Green at a time when we’re all trying to figure out how to keep the planet healthy and feed ourselves and the world is beyond me.  But, you know, they didn’t ask GardenRant.

So Ketzel, we wish you luck with whatever’s next.  And anytime you want to come rant with us, just say the word.


  1. I’m trying to imagine what would happen if the bbc did the same in the UK. I suspect there would be questions in parliament and protests on the streets………

  2. At the website I just learned that the New York Times career columnist Marci Alboher, with the NYT blog Shifting Careers was also let go at a time when so many need career advice more than ever, espcially since more people seem to be leading the ‘slasher’ work lives Marci specialtizes in. You know waitress/actress/wife or gardener/freelancer/blogger/accountant kind of life. I guess we’ll have to get a copy of her book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. The media doesn’t seem very good at assessing what the public needs.

  3. In a shrinking economy the cuts we are seeing now and will see everywhere are going to be depressing and probably won’t make a lot of sense to us. Unfortunately, my household knows first hand…sigh…

  4. The irony is too much. Ketzel can now interview herself for her own “American Moxie” segment. How depressing.

  5. That is deeply uncool. Ketzel’s one of the few people in the mainstream media (yeah, I count NPR in that) I follow regularly.

    Good luck to you in your next venture, Ketzel.

  6. Very short-sighted. Like a lot of company cuts going on right now. Gardening is on the rise, especially the vegetable variety. Also, the whole “green” thing. Coming from a partial layoff in the corporate world, along with many others from my company, I feel like “management” everywhere is scared out of their minds, having never been through a recession this bad, and have no idea what to do. To preserve short term revenue, they are slashing everywhere, almost blindly. I think many of these places will have a hard landing when things do improve, as they will have cut some very good people, who will have undoubtedly positioned themselves much better elsewhere by the time all of this is over.

  7. Sad news indeed! I enjoyed the ‘American Moxie’ report the other day. I imagine they will continue with them since they are probably pre-recorded.

    In my life I’ve been layed off twice. Once from a job I was anxious to leave anyway and another that was my dream job, a perfect place for me to be and a place I had worked for 18 years. The only thing that softened the blow was that all the suits and ties in the room were crying real tears when they told me – they hated to see me go. The side effect of their decision is that from then on I was never a company man, I never trusted any job to do everything they promised when I got hired. A great way to ruin a good worker.

  8. I’d like to know how they came up with their firing list. Today my local NPR station had one if its anchors saying she will soon be let go. I just hope people go back to college / stay in college / go to college so I have a job.

  9. I’m sorry, Ketzel! If you are reading this I want you to know how much I enjoyed your programs and how much I will miss you. What a bummer this economic situation is, indeed!

  10. A dose of reality folks. To the rest of the world, what we do, isn’t really important. Never mind that gardens grow food, create beauty, provide solace from a world gone mad. Financial reporting is important. Gardening, protecting greenspace and how we use our land…that’s not important…not.

  11. So who are they keeping on? That might be a guide to the corporate mind or whatever takes the place of a mind.

  12. I have just returned from my annual Buddhist celebration pot luck party so I may be still high on goodness, lovingkindness and karma, but Ketzel’s fate seems a fitting metaphor for what is going on in our communities right now.
    In times like this , we have to forge forward and create new opportunities for ourselves.
    ‘Restructuring Happens’.
    The sting of the door shutting closed won’t last as long if you press forward and open a new door.
    It’s not going to be easy, but quite often the things we most appreciate in life were worth working for.

  13. Hmm are there any good gardening podcasts left?
    I listen to Alterative Kitchen, but really since Blue Collar Gardeners stopped casting I’ve been at a loss.

  14. That’s highly disappointing. I’m very sorry for Ketzel and for myself and for everyone who enjoyed what she brought to NPR.

  15. NPR pushes the eco-warrior show Living On Earth which is nothing but doom and gloom stories. WAMC in Albany does a monthly gardening segment on Vox-pop with a couple of pretty good guests. I do a guest spot on WKZE about every six to eight weeks which gets good reviews.

    There is a lack of major corporate underwrting for gerdening especially if you want to go organic. With the demise of Schultz all that’s left is Scotts whose stuff I hate.

    Phram Solutions and Bonide are just too small to fund major productions.

    The answer? To hell with NPR then. Look local for your garden shows just like you look local for fresh produce.

    WTEN in Albany runs a poorly done garden show with a militant alternative lifestylist called Coastal Gardening. We do not have a coast here in Albany and all his plants are in Oregon/Washington.

    Contact your public access channel and start your own garden show.

    The (Broadcaster, Poet, Radical revolutionary) TROLL

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