Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Montagne's most recent assignment was a yearlong collaboration with ProPublica reporter Nina Martin, investigating the alarming rate of maternal mortality in the U.S., as compared to other developed countries. The series, called " Lost Mothers," was recognized with more than a dozen awards in American journalism, including a Peabody Award, a George Polk Award, and Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The series was also named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
From 2004 to 2016, Montagne co-hosted NPR's Morning Edition, the most widely heard radio news program in the United States. Her first experience as host of an NPR newsmagazine came in 1987, when she, along with Robert Siegel, were named the new hosts of All Things Considered.
After leaving All Things Considered, Montagne traveled to South Africa in early 1990, arriving to report from there on the day Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison. In 1994, she and a small team of NPR reporters were awarded an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for their coverage of South Africa's historic elections that led to Mandela becoming that country's first black president.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Montagne has made 10 extended reporting trips to Afghanistan. She has traveled to every major city, from Kabul to Kandahar, to peaceful villages, and to places where conflict raged. She has profiled Afghanistan's presidents and power brokers, but focused on the stories of Afghans at the heart of that complex country: school girls, farmers, mullahs, poll workers, midwives, and warlords. Her coverage has been honored by the Overseas Press Club, and, for stories on Afghan women in particular, by the Gracie Awards.
One of her most cherished honors dates to her days as a freelance reporter in the 1980s, when Montagne and her collaborator, the writer Thulani Davis, were awarded "First Place in Radio" by the National Association of Black Journalists for their series "Fanfare for the Warriors." It told the story of African-American musicians in the military bands from WW1 to Vietnam.
Montagne began her career in radio pretty much by accident, when she joined a band of friends, mostly poets and musicians, who were creating their own shows at a new, scrappy little San Francisco community station called KPOO. Her show was called Women's Voices.
Montagne graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley. Her career includes teaching broadcast writing at New York University's Graduate Department of Journalism (now the Carter Institute).
The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, but California is leading the charge to reverse that trend. Since 2006, the state has cut its rate by more than half.
More than 50,000 American women nearly die from childbirth every year, according to a CDC estimate. These catastrophic complications can come at a terrible cost emotionally, financially and medically.
Black women are three times more likely to die from complications of childbirth than white women in the U.S. Racism, and the stress it causes, can play a leading role in that disparity.
We've heard from 3,100 women who survived life-threatening complications of pregnancy or childbirth. They told us what they wished they had known and what they would say to new and expectant mothers.
The U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world: Sixty percent of the 700 to 900 deaths each year are preventable, including that of neonatal nurse Lauren Bloomstein.