Robert Smith

Robert Smith is a correspondent for NPR's Planet Money where he reports on how the global economy is affecting our lives.

If that sounds a little dry, then you've never heard Planet Money. The team specializes in making economic reporting funny, engaging and understandable. Planet Money has been known to set economic indicators to music, use superheroes to explain central banks, and even buy a toxic asset just to figure it out.

Smith admits that he has no special background in finance or math, just a curiosity about how money works. That kind of curiosity has driven Smith for his 20 years in radio.

Before joining Planet Money, Smith was the New York correspondent for NPR. He was responsible for covering all the mayhem and beauty that makes it the greatest city on Earth. Smith reported on the rebuilding of Ground Zero, the stunning landing of US Air flight 1549 in the Hudson River and the dysfunctional world of New York politics. He specialized in features about the overlooked joys of urban living: puddles, billboards, ice cream trucks, street musicians, drunks and obsessives.

When New York was strangely quiet, Smith pitched in covering the big national stories. He traveled with presidential campaigns, tracked the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and reported from the BP oil spill.

Before his New York City gig, Smith worked for public radio stations in Seattle (KUOW), Salt Lake City (KUER) and Portland (KBOO). He's been an editor, a host, a news director and just about any other job you can think of in broadcasting. Smith also lectures on the dark arts of radio at universities and conferences. He trains fellow reporters how to sneak humor and action into even the dullest stories on tight deadlines.

Smith started in broadcasting playing music at KPCW in his hometown of Park City, Utah. Although the low-power radio station at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, likes to claim him as its own.

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5:22am

Wed May 21, 2014
Planet Money

These Days A Penny Doesn't Buy Very Much

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 8:06 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's go from billions to pennies. The penny occupies a strange spot on the economic landscape: It's worth almost nothing, but not quite. Tomorrow and today, our Planet Money team will be reporting on the penny, starting with this report from Robert Smith and Jacob Goldstein, who set out on the streets of Manhattan with a simple question: Can you buy anything for a penny?

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: We started with the guy who runs the fruit stand outside our office.

What if we wanted to buy one cherry?

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7:19am

Wed April 30, 2014
Planet Money

Varying Auto Safety Standards Interfere With Trade Negotiations

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:43 pm

The U.S. and Europe have different car safety standards. Some of them are small while others are more dramatic. All car makers agree that the different standards are a pain. So why the difference?

4:21pm

Fri February 21, 2014
Sports

Four Years Later And One Round Earlier, The Game Ends The Same

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 7:53 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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6:29am

Fri February 21, 2014
Sports

World's Best Slalom Skier Prepares For Olympic Event

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 9:29 am

Eighteen-year-old American Mikaela Shiffrin is the favorite in Friday's women's slalom at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Three other Americans are also in the field of 88.

5:22am

Thu February 20, 2014
Sports

The Sound Of Cowbells Haunts Olympics Reporter

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 8:55 am

On the slopes, athletes are cheered on by fans, family and friends ringing cowbells. Does it help? Is it too much?

4:04pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Sports

Roundup At The Rink And On The Bobsled Track

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, a roundup of some of the big stories out of Winter Olympics in Sochi today. A Norwegian athlete became the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. And there was a bruising loss for host country Russia. Its men's hockey team lost to Finland and is out of the Olympic tournament. Russian fans like Alexander Ustinov(ph) were devastated.

ALEXANDER USTINOV: You know, it's so bad because we lose. We lose. I can't believe it. It's so bad.

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10:03am

Tue February 18, 2014
The Edge

In Bobsled, 'You Learn As You Go'

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:51 am

Elana Meyers, during a training session in Sochi last week, is a driver on the U.S. team. She started out as a brakeman.
Tobias Hase EPA/Landov

If there's one sport in the Winter Olympics you can do with your eyes closed, it's bobsled.

The bobsled brakeman does about five seconds of hard work, jumps in the sled and can then relax a bit. During the women's bobsled competition tonight in Sochi, we should keep our eyes open, because it's fun to watch.

The women call themselves brakemen — not brake women or brake person — in a nod to the fact that bobsled was an all-male sport until 2002.

Even now, the women only race two-man — not four-man — bobsled.

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5:03am

Tue February 18, 2014
Sports

U.S. Women's Bobsled Team Features 2 Summer Olympians

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 11:03 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There is one sport in the Winter Olympics you can do with your eyes closed. To be precise, you have to do a few seconds of work, after which you can close your eyes and hope for a gold. I am referring to the brakeman in bobsled. That's the athlete who pushes the sled. Tonight, the woman's two-person bobsled starts in Sochi.

NPR's Robert Smith introduces us to the team.

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: Let's get this out of the way. The women call themselves brakemen. Not brake women or brake person.

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4:43pm

Mon February 17, 2014
Sports

Bronze In Bobsled For A Team Of Steves

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Team USA has been struggling to win gold. There were some hope today. Two pairs of American athletes went into their events as the best in the world. And we're going to hear now how they did, starting with two-men bobsled. America driver Steve Holcomb and his brakeman Steve Langton sounded like this on the bobsled course.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOUTING)

CORNISH: The Steves were going 82.7 miles per hour. The Russian sled, piloted by Alexander Zubkov, sounded like this...

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOUTING)

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7:06am

Mon February 17, 2014
The Edge

Foggy Weather Throws Events Off Course In Sochi

An athlete trains Monday at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center Coaches at the biathlon course said fog and poor snow quality were big problems.
Kirill Kudryavtsev AFP/Getty Images

The blue skies couldn't last forever.

A fog as thick as Russian borscht rolled into the mountains above Sochi on Sunday night. From the vantage point of the relatively low-altitude bobsled track, the gondolas heading up to the cross-country center and alpine venues disappeared into the clouds.

The weather is creating all sorts of problems for Olympic planners. A men's biathlon race was postponed Sunday because of low visibility. It was postponed again Monday. (The women's race was still on track for today.)

As The Associated Press notes:

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