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'The Thistle & Shamrock' Host ProFile, Straight From The Scottish Highlands

We're celebrating St. Patrick's Day in true public radio form - a conversation with the award-winning host of NPR's. Fiona Ritchie hasspent more than 30 years digging into the evolving Celtic music tradition, bringing public radio listeners well-established and newly emerging recording artists in Europe and North America.Today, we got her to dish on the Irish, her children and NPR, too.

/ ⓒRoy Summers/Scottish Field
ⓒRoy Summers/Scottish Field

My name...Fiona Ritchie
Public radio listener since... 1981
NPR employee since...I signed my first contract with NPR in 1990, although I've been broadcasting nationally on public radio since 1983.
My job at NPR is...creating music radio, web streams, podcasts from the heart of Scotland for NPR.Music fights for our attention from every media outlet. I want to guide our listeners through it all by leading them straight to authentic, passionate music and to the innovative artists and tradition-bearers who make it.

My favorite traditional Irish tune is... Cumha Eoghan Ruaidh Uí Néill(Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill).

The Celtic instrument I could listen to forever is...the sound of a pure unaccompanied voice, singing in Irish or in Scots Gaelic.

Ask Me Another question about... the best tea rooms, coffee shops and home baking in Perthshire (Scotland).

Of all of the Irish cuisine I've tried, I enjoy...colcannon ["white-headed cabbage"]or freshly baked Irish soda bread the most.

The color green makes me think of...home.

When I tell people I work for NPR, they often say...where's that? (I live in Scotland).

In my suitcase, you'll find...a flat-packed spare holdall to cope with the fact that luggage always expands before the return journey.[Editors Note: For those of you on this side of the Pond, a 'holdall' is bag.]

I'm not as... sensible I sound.

I always smile when... I'm trying very hard to convey a disapproving expression to my children.

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Fiona Ritchie strolls along the main street of a small village in rural Scotland and steps through the plain doorway of an 18th century stone building. Passers-by would find it difficult to imagine what this simple gesture initiates: a weekly connection with devoted public radio listeners throughout the United States. In over two decades of broadcasts, Ritchie's radio program The Thistle & Shamrock has become one of NPR's most widely heard and best-loved music programs. She has entered the lives of millions of Americans by way of an inconspicuous studio door, thousands of miles away in Scotland.
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