NPR and Resident Nerd Book Editor Petra Mayer Dies at 46

Petra Mayer, NPR book editor and self-proclaimed “resident nerd” who has delighted readers with her thoughts on sci-fi, comics and cats, died Saturday in Silver Spring, Md. She was 46 years old.

Her death, at Holy Cross Hospital, was confirmed on Sunday by her mother, Elke Mayer, who said the cause was pulmonary embolism.

Ms Mayer joined NPR’s books team in 2012 and worked in the culture office, according to the public radio network.

The announcement sparked a wave of tributes to Mrs Mayer, who reported on Comic-Con and helped Book Concierge, NPR’s literary recommendation tool.

“Petra was NPR through and through,” Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for information, said Saturday in an email to staff, which was reported by the public radio network.

In a statement released on Sunday, NPR said Ms Mayer left an indelible mark.

“This is a heartbreaking loss for all of us at NPR, our member stations and the millions of listeners in the public radio family,” the statement said. “Petra’s passion for her job, her love for her colleagues and her joy in sharing books with public radio listeners have had a lasting impact.”

Prior to her tenure as a book editor, Ms. Mayer was a weekend producer and associate director for “All things Considered,” the flagship news program of the radio network, according to NPR. She also worked as a production assistant for “Morning Edition” and “Saturday weekend edition. “

In an interview on Sunday, Elke Mayer said her daughter was drawn to a career in radio while studying at Amherst College, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1996, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“She could have progressed to management very easily, but she enjoyed doing the actual job,” Ms. Mayer said. “She enjoyed interviewing the writers.”

Ms Mayer said her daughter loved assignments such as the cover of Comic-Con, where she ran into celebrities and characters.

Beth Novey, editor and producer of NPR, told the public radio network that Petra Mayer “was always up for anything, from a last minute cut, to dressing up as an AP style guide for Halloween. or make a hedgehog of cheese for an internal farewell party.

Mrs Novey said on twitter that Ms. Mayer was supposed to join her for brunch on Saturday. “She had (of course) promised to bring something ‘stupidly elaborate’ that she had seen on Great British Bake Off,” Ms Novey wrote.

After graduating from Amherst, Ms. Mayer earned a master’s degree in audiovisual journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Ms. Mayer grew up in Washington, DC Along with her mother, she is survived by her father, Jeffrey L. Mayer, and her partner, Josh Drobina.

Elke Mayer said her daughter used her position to highlight more diverse perpetrators. She also fought for paid internships, her mother said.

Some of the stories she’s covered could be heavy, though.

“Petra was the go-to person if anyone in the arts died,” her mother said. “She would write the obituary and it would be broadcast in an hour.”



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