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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6:32pm

Fri February 14, 2014
Sports

Head First In Sochi, An American Takes Second

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 7:58 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. At the Sochi Olympics today, the women raced the skeleton. That is the terrifying sled event in which an athlete plunges headfirst down the track. An American from Utah went into the race a favorite to medal. Here's NPR's Robert Smith with her story and how she did today.

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4:03pm

Thu February 13, 2014
Sports

Between U.S. And Russian Hockey, A Different Kind Of Cold War

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 7:58 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

For a lot of Russians, the true start of the Olympics was today. Team Russia took the ice in men's hockey. At the very same time, Team USA also had their very first game. We sent a reporter to each game to see how the two rivals stack up against each other and they sent his report.

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5:09am

Thu February 13, 2014
Sports

In Front Of A Home Crowd, Russia Has Hockey History On Its Mind

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 3:07 pm

Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin steps out onto the ice Thursday before a match against Slovenia. The Russians won 5-2. On Saturday, they'll meet Team USA.
Mark Humphrey AP

There is a weird contradiction in Olympic hockey: On one hand, these professional players from the NHL arrive in a small town like movie stars.

They show up a week late, trailed by TV cameras and Russians begging for autographs.

And then they have to go back to basics. Early Thursday, members of Team USA were on the ice, doing the kind of simple drills that you'd see in a peewee hockey league.

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7:03am

Wed February 12, 2014
Sports

Snowborder Shaun White Will Leave Sochi Without A Medal

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:57 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Snowboarders have a new set of heroes who are not American. Last night, at the snowboard halfpipe event in Sochi, not a single member of Team USA was on the podium. The winners were Swiss and Japanese. Maybe the biggest disappointment was the fourth place finish by Shaun White. He's the American who, for years, has been the focal point of snowboarding's rise in popularity.

NPR's Robert Smith was there and tells us what it means for the sport.

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5:34pm

Tue February 11, 2014
Sports

Shaun White Misses The Medal Stand As 'I-Pod' Gets The Gold

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 2:30 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where American snowboarder Shaun White attempted a three-peat today. He was trying to be the first three-time gold medal winner in the half-pipe competition, actually the first American man to win three consecutive golds in any Winter Olympic event. And NPR's Robert Smith watched the action today and joins us now from outside the half-pipe venue. Robert, how did things turn out for Shaun White?

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5:04am

Tue February 11, 2014
Sports

Olympic Snowboarders Groove To DJ Naka G

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 1:29 pm

Who pumps up the crowd as Shaun White throws down in Sochi? DJ Naka G.
Sergei Grits AP

It's hard to tell on TV, but in person, the Olympics are loud.

Every competition has its own DJ, and for the snowboarding, Russia has brought in a little help from the USA: Mike Nakagawa, better known as DJ Naka G.

The men's snowboarding team is hitting the halfpipe Tuesday in Sochi, and it's Naka G's job to pick the song for each rider.

"We're really providing the soundtrack for a story," he says. "We're making it dramatic. We're making it exciting. We're making it just pure fun."

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7:40pm

Mon February 10, 2014
The Edge

The Norwegian Athlete Who's One Medal Away From History

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 3:55 pm

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway practices in Sochi on Monday.
Harry How Getty Images

On Monday, Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen came a ski-length away from winning a 13th Olympic medal and becoming the most decorated athlete ever at the Winter Games.

The biathlon pursuit Olympic event — cross-country skiing with rifle shooting — is a pretty devious race. The fastest man goes first, and then everyone else in the race tries to catch him before the finish line. And in Monday's competition, Bjoerndalen went first.

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5:05pm

Fri February 7, 2014
Sports

Glory And Glitches At Sochi Opening Ceremonies

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 9:04 pm

The 2014 Winter Olympics officially opened Friday with a ceremony celebrating Russian culture and introducing Olympic athletes from around the world. NPR's Robert Smith was at the ceremony in Sochi and joins us to recount the pomp and pitfalls on display.

5:18pm

Thu February 6, 2014
Sports

Trains May Be Slow In Sochi, But The Snowboarders Are Flying High

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Enough talk about whether or not Russia is ready to host the Olympics, it's time. The competitions have begun. Snowboarders and figure skaters took to the snow and ice today, even though the Opening Ceremony doesn't happen until tomorrow.

NPR's Robert Smith traveled with Russian fans to the first event to see if years of planning have paid off.

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5:17am

Thu February 6, 2014
Sports

Ready Or Not, Olympic Events Begin In Sochi

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:59 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And at last, we can say this morning, let the games begin. The Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics will be held tomorrow in Sochi, Russia. But there were just too many sports to fit in, so a few got an early start, including a new Olympic event: slopestyle snowboarding. It debuted on a clear, beautiful day on the mountain of Rosa Khutor.

NPR's Robert Smith has been taking in the scene, and joins us now. Good morning. This is pretty exciting.

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