Ted Robbins

As an NPR correspondent based in Tucson, Arizona, Ted Robbins covers the Southwest including Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

Specifically, Robbins reports on a range of issues from immigration and border security to water issues and wildfires. He covers the economy in the West with an emphasis on the housing market and Las Vegas development. He reported on the January 2011, Tucson shooting that killed six and injured many included Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

From Tombstone to Santa Fe, Phoenix to Las Vegas and Moab to Indian Country, there's no shortage of people, politics and places worth covering in the growing American Southwest. Robbins' reporting is driven by his curiosity to find, understand and communicate all sides of each story through accurate, clear and engaging coverage. In addition to his domestic work, Robbins has reported internationally in Mexico, El Salvador, Nepal and Sudan.

Robbins' reporting has been honored with numerous accolades, including two Emmy Awards: one for his story on sex education in schools, and another for his series on women in the workforce. He received a CINE Golden Eagle for a 1995 documentary on Mexican agriculture called "Tomatoes for the North."

In 2006, Robbins wrote an article for the Neiman Reports at Harvard about journalism and immigration. He was chosen for a 2009 French-American Foundation Fellowship focused on comparing European and U.S. immigration issues.

Raised in Los Angeles, Robbins became an avid NPR listener while spending hours driving (or stopped in traffic) on congested freeways. He is delighted to now be covering stories for his favorite news source.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2004, Robbins spent five years as a regular contributor to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 15 years at the PBS affiliate in Tucson, and worked as a field producer for CBS News. He worked for NBC affiliates in Tucson and Salt Lake City, where he also did some radio reporting and print reporting for USA Today.

Robbins earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and his master's degree in journalism, both from the University of California at Berkeley. He taught journalism at the University of Arizona for a decade.

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Around the Nation
5:09 am
Fri May 25, 2012

In Ariz. Contest, A Debate Over Government's Reach

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 10:22 am

Voters in southern Arizona's 8th Congressional District are deciding who will fill the seat formerly held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The Democrat resigned in January, a year after she was badly injured by a gunman at a district event in Tucson.

Giffords' resignation set in motion a special election to serve out the rest of her two-year term. Giffords' former district director, Ron Barber, won the Democratic nomination uncontested. Jesse Kelly easily beat three opponents in the Republican primary.

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Around the Nation
5:27 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Plans To Fight DOJ Lawsuit

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 7:10 am

The Department of Justice has announced it is suing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio because of civil rights violations. He became a controversial figure for his tough stance on immigrants. Arpaio says he will not surrender his office and will fight the suit.

Crisis In The Housing Market
3:05 am
Tue May 1, 2012

Some Housing Markets Rebound, But Bargains Scarce

While some sections of Arizona's housing market have shown signs of recovery, potential homebuyers who are looking for affordable houses have been frustrated. This file photo from 2008 shows a subdivision extending into desert scrubland.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 9:12 am

The real estate market has turned around in some parts of the U.S., but many buyers aren't seeing true bargains anymore. Investors are driving up prices, and inventory is low, especially for homes priced under $250,000. That's not great news for anyone hoping to buy an affordable house to live in.

Arizona is home to one of the nation's extraordinary turnarounds. The Phoenix-area median home price rose 20 percent over the past year — 6 percent in March alone. And Tucson was recently named the nation's best market for investors. But the easy money has already been made.

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Animals
4:57 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

A Bug's Life: Store Caters To Collectors Of Crawly Pets

The Poecilotheria metallica is a species of tarantula that reflects a metallic blue color. It is just one of many tarantulas for sale in Ken "The Bug Guy" MacNeil's pet store. Price: $200.
Kenthebugguy.com

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 6:49 pm

If you're the kind of person who screams at the sight of an insect or spider — or worse, steps on it — then a new store in Tucson, Ariz., might not be the best place for you to pick up a new family pet.

Owner Ken "The Bug Guy" MacNeil says his store is the only retail pet shop in the country devoted to insects and other arthropods. Judging from the recent opening day crowd at the store, plenty of people think the critters make great pets.

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Presidential Race
7:41 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Can Romney Keep Ariz. Red?

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 10:46 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The Republican campaign for president literally heated up yesterday. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the likely nominee, was in the Phoenix area. He addressed a rally of sun-soaked supporters, a meeting of Republican state chairmen and a group of Hispanic leaders. Now, in the moment, we'll hear more about how Republicans plan to reach out to Hispanic voters this election season. First, NPR's Ted Robbins has this report.

MITT ROMNEY: Thank you, thank you.

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Around the Nation
4:00 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Calif. Study: Nail Products Contain Toxic Chemicals

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 10:22 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

If you want a mani-pedi - that's a manicure and pedicure to the uninitiated - you don't have to walk very far here in California. There are about 48,000 nail salons throughout the state. A new study by the state government now says some products used in those salons contain toxic substances, even though the products are billed as nontoxic. That sounds scary for salon owners and workers and clients, but representatives of the nail care industry say the study is nonsense. NPR's Ted Robbins reports.

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Sports
2:56 am
Wed April 11, 2012

New Season, New Owners For Los Angeles Dodgers

The L.A. Dodgers stand on the third baseline during the national anthem on opening day at Dodger Stadium. They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1, on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Harry How Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 9:31 am

It was a sold out game on a pure Southern California day.

"Isn't this beautiful? Blue sky, not a cloud in the air, nice little breeze," said Maury Wills, who was the Dodgers shortstop in 1962. "It's warm Southern California."

Wills joined a bunch of his old teammates Tuesday to celebrate Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary. It's also the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys. So they sang the national anthem after "Surfer Girl."

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Sports
3:53 pm
Sun March 18, 2012

After Ownership Drama, Dodgers Want To Play Ball

Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a RBI single against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch on March 8 in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 5:50 pm

Things are looking pretty good at the Dodgers spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz. They have Cy Young Award winning Clayton Kershaw anchoring their pitching staff and at the plate, the National league MVP runner-up, Matt Kemp.

"Hopefully, we can start out the way we finished last year and be consistent throughout the whole year," Kemp said.

Everyone has had enough of what's been happening off the field.

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National Security
12:01 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Defense Contractors See Hope In Homeland Security

A vendor talks to attendees at the Border Security Expo in Phoenix, Ariz., next to a display of sophisticated cameras and sensors painted to blend into the desert.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 10:24 am

The Defense Department is bracing for billions of dollars in budget cuts — and that has defense contractors looking for new markets. Homeland Security is one of the most promising, particularly border security, which hasn't suffered any big cuts. So companies are lining up in hopes of landing a contract.

At a border security trade show in Phoenix, Ariz., there's enough surveillance equipment on the floor of the convention center to spot a federal appropriation from 5 miles away.

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Sports
4:39 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

MLS's New Spring Idea: Beckham Bends It In Tucson

The L.A. Galaxy plays against Real Salt Lake at Kino Stadium in Tuscon, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

For Major League Soccer, spring training has meant playing exhibition games all over the continent. Until now.

MLS now wants to emulate baseball — much to the delight of fans in Tucson, Ariz., a city that Major League Baseball left behind.

The defending MLS champions, the L.A. Galaxy, are in Tucson with teams from New York, New England and Salt Lake. They're playing in a two-week tournament called the Desert Diamond Cup.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Wed February 29, 2012

29 GOP Delegates In Arizona Go To Romney

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And while Mitt Romney was eking out that win in Michigan, he pretty much walked away with yesterday's Arizona primary. Romney was expected to win in Arizona, but he walloped his closest challenger - that would be Rick Santorum - by 20 percentage points. Helped, in part, by the support of the last Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain.

And while all the attention was on Michigan throughout the night, NPR's Ted Robbins reports that in the all-important delegate count, the Arizona win counts for nearly as much.

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Election 2012
2:29 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Group Of Retirees In Ariz. Unmoved By Latest Debate

Back in October, a group of Republican voters in Arizona gathered at NPR's request to watch one of the early GOP presidential debates on TV. Wednesday night, they got together again. NPR's Ted Robbins watched with them in Saddlebrooke, a retirement community northwest of Tucson, and asked them to share their thoughts.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Arizona Lawmakers Target Public Workers' Unions

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 10:21 am

Labor unions plan to rally in front of the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday afternoon to protest four bills quickly moving through the state Legislature that could make last year's Wisconsin labor laws look modest by comparison.

Three of the four bills restrict the way unions collect dues and the way workers get paid for union activities. The fourth bans collective bargaining between governments and government workers: state and local. Unlike Wisconsin, it affects all government employees, including police and firefighters.

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Politics
4:00 am
Mon February 6, 2012

After Cuts, New Mexico Now Has Budget Surplus

Originally published on Mon February 6, 2012 7:07 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Our periodic look at state finances takes us next to New Mexico. The situation there looks a lot less awful than it did.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

After three years of painful cuts, the state has a projected surplus. The question now is what to do with the money. Here's NPR's Ted Robbins.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

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Around the Nation
4:00 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Farmers Take Back Land Slated For Housing

Over the past half-century more than 20 million acres of U.S. farmland were transformed into housing developments. With new home construction all but stopped, farmers in many areas are buying or leasing land once slated for development and planting crops on it.

Around the Nation
4:00 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Tucson Remembers Tragic Shooting 1 Year Ago

Originally published on Mon January 9, 2012 6:27 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Last night in Tucson, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords made a rare public appearance at a vigil marking the anniversary of the shooting there last year. Giffords was shot in the head, a dozen others were wounded and six people were killed.

NPR's Ted Robbins attended a weekend of memorial events.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS)

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Around the Nation
6:37 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Ceremonies Commemorate Tuscon Shooting

In Tucson, Ariz., this weekend, ceremonies will mark the shooting one year ago that killed six people and wounded 13 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords will be in town for the events.

Election 2012
4:00 am
Tue January 3, 2012

Iowa Set To Begin 2012 Presidential Voting

The voting in the Iowa GOP caucuses begins Tuesday night. On the last day before the caucuses, Republican presidential candidates campaigned across the state Monday. Their goal was the same — motivating supporters to leave their homes on a cold evening, go to their precinct meeting places and vote.

Election 2012
4:00 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Rick Santorum May Be Peaking At The Right Time

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum points to a television showing his campaign stop on live at the Daily Grind coffee shop in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 10:09 am

After concentrating on Iowa more than any other Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum is gaining on front-runners Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, a new Des Moines Register poll shows. Santorum is hoping to consolidate Iowa's Christian conservative vote — the strategy that won the state for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee four years ago.

Jeanne Zyzda did not expect more than 100 people in her Sioux City coffee shop, the Daily Grind. Not all at once, and not on a holiday.

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Law
4:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

DOJ Probe Finds Ariz. Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Joe Arpaio, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff, is not backing down. The U.S. Justice Department yesterday accused his sheriff's department in Maricopa County, Arizona of systematically violating the constitutional and civil rights of Latinos. By the end of the day, NPR's Ted Robbins reports, the sheriff was hitting back.

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NPR Story
4:57 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Tracking An Order In Real-Life Santa's Workshops

Javier Polendo, an employee at a largely automated Target.com fulfillment center in Tucson, Ariz., scans items to be shipped to online customers.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:23 pm

There's a world of activity between the time online shoppers click the "place order" button and when a holiday package is delivered to their doorsteps. The National Retail Federation estimates that 38 percent of holiday purchases will be made online this year, which is keeping fulfillment centers large and small very busy.

Target.com runs five fulfillment centers. One of them, in Tucson, Ariz., stretches the length of 16 football fields.

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Arts & Life
2:40 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Bolo Tie Goes High-Brow At Arizona Art Exhibit

This silver Navajo bolo tie features coral, jade, shell and other stones. It is on display at the Heard Museum in Phoenix as part of the bolo tie exhibit.
Courtesy of the Heard Museum

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 7:42 pm

Arizona celebrates its centennial next year, and to help get folks spruced up for the occasion, the Heard Museum in Phoenix recently opened an exhibition featuring the state's official neckwear — the bolo tie.

The roots of the bolo tie aren't known for sure. But the story goes like this: Back in the 1930s and '40s, when Western swing was in full swing, a cowboy and silversmith in Wickenburg, Ariz., named Vic Cedarstaff was out riding his horse. The wind picked up, and to keep his silver hatband safe, Cedarstaff looped it around his neck.

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Politics
2:15 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Gingrich's Remarks On Immigration Surprises Many

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich answers a question at Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in Washington, D.C.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is getting lots of attention for his remarks about immigration in Wednesday night's debate. Gingrich has been moving up in the polls and last night he broke with his fellow candidates by saying that some illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. Though his statements were in line with other GOP candidates from years past, the aftershocks show just how narrow the immigration debate has been in recent years.

Gingrich spouted the typical Repubican line in last night's debate,

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Politics
4:21 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Cain To Vigorously Defend Harassment Allegations

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain responded to accusations of sexual harassment at a news conference in Scotsdale, Ariz., Tuesday. Cain say he has "never acted inappropriately with anyone."

Around the Nation
7:54 am
Sat October 29, 2011

Mexican Trucks In U.S. Still Face Political Long Haul

The Port of Entry at Nogales, Ariz., is in the midst of a massive upgrade to ease congestion caused by up to 1,500 Mexican trucks crossing each day. Nearly two-thirds of the produce consumed in the U.S. and Canada during the winter come through here.

These Mexican trucks stop at warehouses near the border to transfer their loads to U.S. trucks. That's the way it's long been done. Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says that adds cost.

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