Liane Hansen: Patron of the arts

Retired National Public Radio host Liane Hansen is continuing to support the arts from her Bethany Beach home.

She moved to Delaware in 2011, after hosting NPR’s popular “Weekend Edition Sunday” for over 20 years.

Hansen, now 67, grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. She spent a few years at the University of Hartford before moving to Binghamton, New York, and breaking into radio by accident.

After she took a secretarial job at a public television station, her boss noticed that she had a pleasant voice. When the station branched out into radio, she was chosen to host a morning show and her career began.

Later, the University of Hartford awarded her an honorary doctorate.

“I told those graduates that failure is an option. Sometimes you will learn more from the things that didn’t work out than the stuff that did,” Hansen said. “It’s been my mantra and I’m still here.”

In 1976, Hansen moved to Philadelphia and began working with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” at WHYY. About a decade later, the show was aired nationally by NPR.

“In the 70s, we were mailing tapes to each other, playing it and passing it on,” Hansen recalled. “Now the interconnection is JUST extraordinary, between podcasts and XM.”

In the 80s, she hosted the weekend version of “All Things Considered” before moving to London for several years with her former husband and starting a family. In 1989, Hansen began her “Weekend Edition Sunday” gig in Washington, D.C.

She and colleague Nina Totenberg were the first to break the Anita Hill story in October 1991.

“With the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, a lot of people have been revisiting the whole Anita Hill thing,” Hansen said. “So there was one moment this year, I’m listening to NPR, and all of a sudden I hear my voice. It was very strange.”

She also fondly remembers working with many up-and-coming musicians. She was singer/songwriter/pianist Ben Folds’ first interview.

“I was always looking for that person with their first album or first novel and giving them a break,” Hansen said.

While living in D.C. Hansen was introduced to Bethany Beach. She and her family began vacationing there and bought a house, the same one she retired to in 2011.

In 2014, Hansen helped launch WDDE in Dover, Delaware’s first public radio station. She spent a year speaking to organizations throughout the state to raise money and presented both Ignite and TED talks in Wilmington.

“I’m very proud of it,” she said.

Hansen is theatre aficionado and has been performing since childhood. Since moving to Delaware, she’s become active at Clear Space Theatre Company in Rehoboth Beach. Most recently, she wrapped up “A Christmas Carol,” and she’ll soon audition for a new season.

“I love being part of that community,” she said.

In February, she plans to emcee CAMP Rehoboth Chorus’ ten-year anniversary concert, “Seasons of Love,” in the style of a radio show.

“I really do love this state,” Hansen said. “I’m going to be here until the money runs out, and I just got flood insurance, so I think I’m good for a while.”

For more information about the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus concert, visit camprehoboth.com.