Margot Adler, one of the signature voices on NPR’s airwaves for more than three decades, died Monday at her home in New York City. She was 68 and had been battling cancer.
Margot joined the NPR staff as a general assignment reporter in 1979. She went on to cover everything from the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic to confrontations involving the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, N.C., to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Her reporting was singular and her voice distinct,” Margaret Low Smith, NPR’s vice president for news, said in an announcement to staff. “There was almost no story that Margot couldn’t tell.”
The granddaughter of renowned Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler, Margot was born in Little Rock, Ark., but spent most of her life in Manhattan.
More recently, Margot reported for NPR’s Arts Desk. She landed the first U.S. radio interview with author J.K. Rowling, and she recently released Out for Blood, a meditation on society’s fascination with vampires.
Margot explained to NPR’s Neal Conan that research for the book began when her husband of 33 years was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“He was the healthiest man on the planet, I mean literally,” Margot said. “You know, he was a runner. Unlike me, he’d never done any drugs in the ’60s. He’d never smoked. He ate perfectly, you know, one of these people. And he only lived nine months.”
During that time, Margot read 260 vampire novels.
“Basically I started out, it was a meditation on mortality and death, and I started realizing that some of the different attitudes that he and I had about death, he was definitely kind of the high-tech guy, rage, rage, rage, you know, take every supplement, blah, blah, blah, blah,” she said. “And I was kind of more like we’re all part of the life process, you know.”
Margot had a long-standing interest in the occult. “Margot was not only a brilliant reporter, she was also a Wiccan priestess and a leader in the Pagan community,” Low Smith notes. “That was deeply important to her, and she wrote a seminal book about that world: Drawing Down the Moon. She also wrote a memoir called Heretic’s Heart.”
In a note she sent to NPR’s staff last week, Margot explained that she had been fighting cancer for 3 1/2 years. Until three months ago, she had been relatively symptom-free.
What began as endometrial cancer had metastasized to several parts of her body.
“She leaves behind her 23-year-old son, Alex Dylan Gliedman-Adler, who was by her side caring for her throughout her illness,” Low Smith notes.