For nearly 14 years, Vermont Public Radio’s Jane Lindholm has asked probing questions of her guests on seemingly every topic imaginable. Now, the “Vermont Edition” host is preparing for a new role at the station — and VPR is pondering how to revamp its midday public affairs program.
The station announced Tuesday that Lindholm plans to leave the show at the end of January, following a national search for her replacement. Bob Kinzel, who typically hosts the show once a week, will continue to do so, according to news director Sarah Ashworth.
Lindholm expects to spend much of her time expanding "But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids," which she created in 2016. Melody Bodette, a VPR veteran who has produced the show on a part-time basis, will become a full-time senior producer. The two will also team up to produce special projects for the station, including documentaries and live events.
"Fourteen years is a long time to do anything, so I'm ready for some new creative challenges," Lindholm said Tuesday. "Also, it's really hard to juggle two shows that are both competing for attention and both deserve attention."
Lindholm said she expects to continue releasing new episodes of "But Why" every other week but may supplement that schedule with "news and zeitgeist episodes" responding to current events. She hopes to tighten the show, improve its production values and expand its web presence. "But Why," which tackles questions posed by kids, has been downloaded more than 4 million times since march, according to VPR.
Lindholm and Bodette will also spend roughly 30 percent of their time working as what Lindholm described as "a mobile documentary unit" that could produce short-run podcasts or an hourlong program. "The idea is that they'd be areas of coverage that really deserve a long-form, in-depth treatment," she said.
An Addison County native and Harvard University graduate, Lindholm joined VPR in 2007 as it was expanding "Vermont Edition" from a weekly to a daily program. She previously worked for American Public Media's "Marketplace" and for National Public Radio.
When the coronavirus pandemic reached Vermont in March, VPR temporarily doubled the length of the hourlong "Vermont Edition." Lindholm and Kinzel typically anchor Gov. Phil Scott's thrice- and then twice-weekly press conferences, offering analysis upon its conclusion and then seamlessly transitioning to the topic of the day.
Ashworth, who joined VPR weeks after Lindholm and served for a time as a "Vermont Edition" producer, said she marveled at her colleague's growth as a host over the ensuing years. "That's a long time to be in that role, and her commitment to it and just how she's gotten stronger and stronger has been, personally, fun to watch," Ashworth said.
According to Ashworth, Lindholm's move presents an opportunity to revamp the program — a process that will be led by managing producer Lydia Brown. "I just think about how creating a show in 2020 would look so much different than the conversations that were happening in 2006," Ashworth said, citing in particular the adoption of mobile and on-demand listening.
VPR has rejiggered some of its newsroom roles in recent months. After investigative reporter Emily Corwin left this summer to become a Nieman Foundation fellow, the station eliminated the position. It added a new engagement producer role to support the podcast "Brave Little State," according to Ashworth.
Lindholm said she was thankful for the opportunity to make a transition at VPR and excited to become a "Vermont Edition" listener after so many years behind the microphone. "I'm really gratified to work for an organization that is willing to take chances and is willing to give me a shot at something new and different and willing to let me and Melody succeed or fail," she said.