William & Mary

A Voice that Listens: R. Craig Windham '71

Craig Windham graduated with a major in Government. This article first appeared in the 2010 President's Report.

WindhamEarly each weekday morning, Craig Windham '71 arrives at the National Public Radio (NPR) studio in Washington, D.C., and immerses himself in world news. From 6 to 11 a.m. he tells those stories – complete with his signature use of unique sounds – during top-of-the-hour newscasts on Morning Edition.

Before NPR, Windham, whose award-winning career started with William & Mary Radio, was a national correspondent for the RKO/Unistar Radio Networks, covering everything from politics to natural disasters.

“I love being in the field,” he says, noting that he’s a storyteller by nature. His most memorable reporting experiences have come during natural disasters. “I love seeing how people come together for the better to help one another. It shows the resilience in people,” he explains.

When RKO merged with another network in the mid-1990s, Windham was given a year of severance pay – and a chance to try new things. He took on what was initially only a part-time job with NPR “just to keep my foot in radio,” he explains. He also wrote a book, Reggie Lewis: Quiet Grace, which tells the story of the life and controversial death of the Boston Celtics star.

“I was also ready for a new challenge,” Windham says. “I decided to take one counseling course at George Washington University. I went to talk to the department head and ended up signing up for the entire program before I left.” He earned a master’s and doctorate in counseling.

In addition to his journalism career, Windham has joined a private counseling practice and teaches graduate courses in school counseling at George Washington. He also mentors teenagers in his church youth group and accompanies them on mission trips. “I most enjoy that one-on-one time with them,” he says, noting that he might even nudge some of them to attend William & Mary.

Counseling kids inspired Windham’s doctoral dissertation topic: adolescent social messaging and online communication. “My research shows that social messaging is just another healthy form of communication for most kids as long as they don’t overdo it,” he says. “They tend to adapt and use it wisely.”

Although his two careers are very different, Windham sees one similarity: “I like the unpredictability – not knowing what will happen each day.” He enjoys how both jobs allow him to examine human nature up close, making small changes in society each day as he tells the world’s stories – and listens to them, too.