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Melissa Block

As special correspondent, Melissa Block produces richly reported profiles of figures at the forefront of thought and culture, as well as stories and series on the critical issues of our day. Her reporting spans both domestic and international news. In addition, she is a guest host on NPR news programs, and develops podcasts based on her reporting.

Great reporting combined with compelling storytelling is vital to NPR's future. No one exemplifies that blend better than Block. As listeners well know, she has an amazing ability for telling the important stories of our age in a way that engages both the heart and the mind. It is why she has earned such a devoted following throughout her 30-year career at NPR.

As co-host of All Things Considered from 2003 to 2015, Block's reporting took her everywhere from the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the heart of Rio de Janeiro; from rural Mozambique to the farthest reaches of Alaska. Her riveting reporting from Sichuan, China, during and after the massive earthquake there in 2008 helped earn NPR broadcast journalism's top honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, National Headliner Award, and the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Block began at NPR in 1985 as an editorial assistant for All Things Considered and rose to become senior producer. From 1994 to 2002, she was a New York reporter and correspondent. Her reporting after the attacks of September 11, 2001, helped earn NPR a Peabody Award.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Until Tuesday, a Republican presidential candidate hadn't won the state of Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan did it back in 1984. Donald Trump eked out a very narrow victory there, adding to his tally of Rust Belt states that turned red this year and put him over the top. NPR's Melissa Block went to a traditionally blue Wisconsin county to ask why. MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: Kenosha County is the kind of place Democrats...

A week away from turning 99 years old, Frances Kolarek has a long view of life and presidential elections. Born in 1917, three years before women won the right to vote, she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Now, in 2016, she has cast her vote early for Hillary Clinton. "I think she is undoubtedly the most qualified candidate for the presidency that we have seen in my lifetime," she says from her home at the retirement community where she lives, independently,...

Imagine: the chance to live on an uninhabited tropical island for a month, off the grid, creating art. No phone, no television, no Internet. Instead, spectacular night skies, crystalline turquoise waters and extraordinary marine life on the coral reef just a short swim from your back door. For one month a year, Dry Tortugas National Park is home to a pair of artists in residence . The park is made up of seven islands in the Gulf of Mexico , 70 miles from Key West, Fla., accessible only by...

You might assume that with the thawing of relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cubans would see positive change at home, and less reason to attempt the perilous water crossing to Florida. You'd assume wrong. U.S. law enforcement authorities are confronting a surge of Cuban migrants trying to make the journey by boat across the Florida Straits; it's the highest numbers they've seen in two decades. "It's gotten busier and busier," says U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jeff Janszen, commander of sector...

The Rio Olympics are in the rear-view mirror. Thousands of athletes have returned home to resume their lives. But for many, this post-Olympic period can be a rough one, with depression and anxiety haunting them after the games. That depression can affect both stars and lesser-known athletes alike. Swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, has talked candidly about his downward spiral after the 2012 London games that led to a DUI arrest and time in rehab. "I still...

One of the last medals awarded at the Rio Olympics went to a 21-year-old middleweight boxer from Flint, Mich.: Claressa Shields. It was gold. With that Sunday victory, Shields became the first U.S. boxer ever to win back-to-back gold medals. On the podium, after the medal was slipped around her neck, she reached into her pocket, pulled out her gold medal from the 2012 London Games and draped that one over her head, too. Later, she explained, "People didn't give me my recognition for doing it...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR .

The U.S. women's water polo team will be back in the pool on Friday, hungry for a second consecutive Olympic gold medal. The women made it to the gold medal match after a decisive victory Wednesday against Hungary in the semifinals. I watched that game with the mother of not one, but two players on Team USA. Leslie Fischer of Laguna Beach, Calif., was sitting poolside, watching anxiously as the Hungarian players beat up on the U.S. team, including her daughters: Makenzie, 19, and Aria, 17,...

One story that's simmering at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has to do with sex: in particular, the controversy over intersex athletes, who are anatomically and genetically ambiguous. At issue: Is it fair to allow those athletes, who often have high levels of testosterone, to compete with women? Much of the attention has focused on South African runner Caster Semenya, the favorite to win gold in the women's 800 meters on Saturday. Semenya has been identified as intersex in many media reports,...

At the Rio Olympics, there are the usual powerhouses: Team USA, with 554 athletes. Australia, with 420. China, with 401. And then there are the tiny countries: overwhelmed, but proud. I went on a quest to find the tiniest of the tiny countries at the Summer Games. And I happened to find the delegation at the Olympic athletes' village, speaking a mashup of English and Nauruan. That's right, the south Pacific nation of Nauru, the world's smallest island state, wins gold for being the smallest...

For all the superstar athletes at the Rio Olympics — the ones with cushy endorsement deals and worldwide fame — there are many more who never find the limelight, who will never even come close to getting a medal. They compete for the sheer honor of it. For national pride. And for reasons all their own. Among that group is a hurdler with a remarkable backstory. I happened to find Maoulida Daroueche at the Olympic athletes village. He was wearing a green and white track suit with "Comoros" in...

They come from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ten athletes who are refugees are competing on the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio Games. They are representing the estimated 65 million people around the world who have been driven from their homes. These athletes had to flee their homelands and make new lives elsewhere. Some are living in Europe. Some here in Brazil. Others in Kenya . Some of them don't know if the families they left behind when...

With six years of Olympic preparation behind him, American Jason Pryor took to the fencing strip in Rio on Tuesday. When I caught up with him a few days before his match, he told me, "I've never been more ready for anything in my entire life." Pryor, 28, from South Euclid, Ohio, is the top men's epee fencer in the U.S., and ranked no. 24 in the world. His opening opponent is Benjamin Steffen of Switzerland, ranked no. 13. "He is one of THE best fencers in the world," Pryor says, anticipating...

There are still nearly two more weeks of events at the Rio Olympics. In fact, some sports haven't even begun competition yet — track and field, badminton and taekwondo among them. But for a couple of hundred athletes in a few sports, their games are already over. Their events were held, start to finish, this past weekend. Among the "one and done" group is weightlifter Morghan King , 30, of Seattle. Five feet tall, 105 pounds and sporting her trademark orange-and-silver manicure for luck, she...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: The opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics has been a swirl of dance, music and a vintage biplane flying through the stadium and seeming to soar out over the city. And, of course, there's the athletes Parade of Nations. NPR's Melissa Block is in Rio, watching the ceremony. And she's with us now. Hi there. MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: Hey, Kelly. MCEVERS: So we should explain that you are way ahead of us of knowing what...

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