Being a good neighbor

This week on “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn,” Jesse interviewed the creators of a new documentary about Fred Rogers. I, like so many others, was a huge admirer of Mister Rogers, a man of faith (he was an ordained Presbyterian minister) who expressed it in Christ-like love but without dogma. Every account I’ve ever read, seen or heard about real people meeting Fred Rogers – every single one – comments on how interested Rogers was in other people. Apparently, he made every person he met or talked to feel as if they were the most important person in the world to him at that moment.  What an amazing legacy.

I haven’t seen this new documentary yet. I do recall seeing (and preaching about) an amazing PBS documentary a few years ago which told the story of  David Newell. David Newell is better known to us all as “Mr. McFeely,” the speedy delivery man from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” After Fred Rogers’ death, Newell, in character, became the public face of the show, attending events hosted by public TV stations across the country and greeting the children who continued to watch “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in reruns. But I believe what Newell has dedicated his life to is not his former boss, but an idea – an idea about how to treat children, and how to treat each other as human beings. Fred Rogers (who, I am sure, was a sinful human being with flaws and foibles) lived his life in such a way that he became a powerful symbol of that idea.

Here is the extended version of Jesse Thorn’s interview with the documentary makers:

A chili conundrum

Is chili a type of soup, or does it stand on its own as a unique product? Only one man has the wisdom to decide … Judge John Hodgman.

Literary editor-turned-humorist John Hodgman (the Daily Show’s “resident expert,” and the PC in those old “I’m a Mac…” “… and I’m a PC” ads) had been doing “Judge John Hodgman” as an occasional segment on the “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” podcast, but now it’s been spun off into its own separate show.

I was joking

A couple of people took my post about podcasting a little more seriously than I intended it.

I was listening to Jesse Thorn’s “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” podcast at I had previously heard Thorn’s interview series “The Sound of Young America,” which is both a podcast and, in some areas, a public radio program. I was unfamiliar with “Jordan, Jesse, Go!”, in which Thorn and co-host Jordan Morris, plus a guest, can ramble on at length, without worrying about the radio time slot (or, apparently, about a censor).

Of course, I’ve long been a fan of Leo Laporte and his podcasts at This Week In Tech.

I was just playfully saying that it would be fun to have podcasting as a job. I don’t have a good idea for a podcast at present, nor do I have the tech to do a professional-sounding podcast right now.

I grew up in radio, as many of you know; I worked at WHAL-AM starting at the age of 15, and I worked in radio for a year after college.

Some years back, I hosted a regular Wednesday night talk show on WZNG-AM (the successor to WHAL-AM). I enjoyed it, and would probably have kept doing it, but it became a burden to book guests — it seemed as if I was always coming down to the wire — and the owners of the station said they’d start paying me once they sold all four sponsor positions in the show, and it didn’t look like that was going to happen. I didn’t mind doing the show for free, and I didn’t mind having trouble booking guests, but I minded the two of them together.

I think I would enjoy doing a podcast at some point — but I’d have to have a focus for it, and a way of talking to guests, and some idea that anyone would actually listen to the thing. I’m not Leo Laporte, who has a wealth of tech information and can carry a show by himself — only he doesn’t have to, at least not on “This Week In Tech,” because he has so many contacts in the tech industry whom he can bring on as panelists.