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Frank Tavares, For Decades The 'Voice Of NPR,' Has Died

Courtesy Jennifer Tavares
Frank Tavares with his family

Frank Tavares -- known as “the voice of NPR” -- has died. For decades, his was the friendly but authoritative voice that told public radio listeners that “funding for NPR comes from Lumber Liquidators,” or “the Pajamagram Company.”

Frank Tavares grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Years later in an interview on WCAI, he reminisced about that distinctive accent of his youth.

“Pahk the cah in the Hahvahd Yahd,” he said, laughing. “I went to school in the Midwest outside of Chicago at Wheaton College and there was another fellow in our dorm wing who grew up in Boston, and the two of us ... our suitemates would write down things to say and they would just laugh because it was so funny.”

When he began working at his college radio station, Tavares said he neutralized that New Bedford accent and over time grew into that iconic voice that public radio listeners knew so well.

After leaving National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., Tavares moved to Hamden, Connecticut, where each week, he continued to record hundreds of NPR funding credits from his home studio built inside a clothes closet.

Tavares was known for his ability to record exactly the number of seconds required for each credit, usually in just one take.

His voice was heard after every national NPR news and information program for three decades.

His voice continued to be heard on Connecticut Public Radio after he left his job with NPR, as the voice of the top-of-the-hour station identifications.

Tavares also taught communications at Southern Connecticut State University and was a founding editor of the Journal of Radio and Audio Media. He was a published fiction and short story writer.

Tavares was diagnosed a few months ago with ALS. He died Monday in Florida.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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