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Arizona Says No to Daylight-Saving Time

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Americans set their clocks forward last night, except for two states which don't observe Daylight Saving Time. Why one of them, Arizona, doesn't is a mystery to NPR's Ted Robbins, who's based in Tucson.

TED ROBBINS: It's no mystery how Arizona avoided Daylight Saving Time or why. Back in 1966, Congress adopted the Uniform Time Act, which established, well, uniform daylight saving across the country. In April, 1967, Arizona went on Daylight Saving Time with the rest of the Mountain Time zone. David Prerau wrote the book "Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time."

Mr. DAVID PRERAU (Author, "Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time"): They tried it for a year, and there was so much negative reaction that they've never tried it again.

ROBBINS: The state legislature asked for an exemption and got it. Arizona has been on year-round Mountain Standard Time ever since. But that was 40 years ago. Back then people had more reason to want less sweltering daylight. Far fewer had air-conditioning, far more worked in agriculture, where you were outside all day.

Today, Arizona is the nation's fastest-growing state, and most folks are coming from somewhere else. No one I've talked with likes the fact that friends, relatives, businesses elsewhere change time but we don't. That's the mystery to me. Even Indian, the last hold-out on the mainland, changed in 2006. David Prerau again.

Mr. PRERAU: Businessmen and others from outside the state never knew exactly what time it was in Indiana because the time difference between Indiana and the rest of the country would change over the year.

ROBBINS: Exactly. Yesterday I was two hours behind the East Coast. Today I'm three hours behind. I have to spend the next eight months reminding everyone I talk to outside the state that I am not on Daylight Saving Time. Oh wait, if I'm on the Navajo Nation, a huge reservation in northeast Arizona, I am on Daylight Saving Time. They chose to be in sync with the rest of the country.

As for me, I am now out of sync. For the next eight months, I have an hour less to make a deadline on the East Coast, and I have to get up an hour earlier for an East Coast conference call. David Prerau.

Mr. PRERAU: Well, it might be time for some Arizonans to consider becoming uniform with the rest of the country, but that's up to them.

ROBBINS: Daylight Saving Time is admittedly far, far, far from the most important thing in my life, but this is the time of year I think about it. Of course it's also the time of year when it starts to get hot, and once it gets hot in Arizona, no one thinks much about changing anything. Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR based at NPR West in Culver City, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online, focusing on TV at a time when there's never been so much content. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity — from traditional museum offerings to popular culture, and out-of-the-way people and events.