STATIC ON PUBLIC RADIO

SEVEN DISCRIMINATION CASES IN TWO YEARS HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL ON NPR'S WARM-AND-FUZZY IMAGE

In the quirky world of National Public Radio, dulcet-toned commentators provide long, thoughtful analyses of issues both momentous and amusing, their reports bookended by tinkling music. But all that soothing and high-minded chat masks discord at the Washington-based radio network, which in the past few years has been hit with a series of racial- and sexual-discrimination lawsuits. "They've got a free ride over the years because they have this public image of being diverse," says Lynne Bernabei, whose law firm has represented 14 NPR clients. But NPR president Delano Lewis, one of the network's few high-ranking blacks, while acknowledging that there...

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