Petra Mayer, NPR books editor, dies at age 46

November 14, 2021
Petra Mayer, books editor for NPR, has died at age 46, the media organization announced.
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Petra Mayer, books editor for NPR‘s Culture desk, died suddenly on Saturday at age 46, the media organization announced.

Doctors believe Mayer died of a pulmonary embolism at Holy Cross Hospital in Maryland, said Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for news, in an email to staff. 

“Petra was NPR through and through,” Barnes wrote. “To say that Petra will be missed simply seems inadequate.”

“This is a heartbreaking loss for all of us at NPR, our Member Stations, and the millions of listeners in the public radio family,” NPR said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “Petra’s passion for her work, her love for her colleagues, and her joy sharing books with public radio listeners have made a lasting impact. We extend our deepest sympathy to her family & friends.”

Mayer first joined NPR in 1994 as an engineering assistant while she attended Amherst College, according to NPR. A few years later, she served as a news writer for NPR affiliate WBUR in Boston and received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University before rejoining NPR in 2000.

She served as a weekend associate producer and director for the media outlet’s show “All Things Considered,” and worked as a production assistant for “Morning Edition” and “Weekend Edition Saturday” before joining the NPR books team in 2012.

NPR culture critic Glen Weldon remembered Mayer as “ferociously intelligent, sardonically funny and (someone who) made your day better by merely existing.” 

“She was the best and rarest species of nerd, whose enthusiasm was eager and sincere and open and inviting,” Weldon added on Twitter. “She wanted you to love the stuff she loved, and supplied you hard incontrovertible evidence to support her thesis. Jesus, she was the best of us.”

Co-host of NPR’s “Here and Now” Tonya Mosley wrote on Twitter that it was “devastating” to learn of Mayer’s death. 

“Every time I had the pleasure of being in convo w/ Petra I knew we were in for a nerdy good time,” Mosley added, remembering her colleague. “We just spoke a few weeks ago about spooky reads and one of her recs is now a nightly favorite. My sincerest condolences to us all.” 

NPR television critic Eric Deggans remembered Mayer as “our queen of nerd-itry on the Arts Desk,” who pursued “stories about books, sci fi, romance, fantasy and so much more with passion and a knowing wit.” 

Linda Holmes, host of NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” wrote on Twitter she was “still at a loss.” 

“She had a long career at NPR doing lots of things, and the more sun shone on her, the more she bloomed. It breaks my heart like I can’t tell you that we didn’t get more time to be friends and colleagues. I miss her already,” Holmes added. 

In a 2018 interview for NPR, Mayer disclosed what she loved most about public radio: “Everything.” 

“No really,” she said. “We tell stories in a way no one else can, we lift up voices no one else does, we’ll bring you the news but we’ll also bring you the joy in a way no other medium can.”



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Life is like a running cycle right! I am a news editor at TIMES. Collecting News is my passion. Because my visitors have the right to know the truth and perfectly.

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