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Agassi’s Open (An Autobiography)

NOTE: This blog post appeared originally in September 2010.

By Ariana Pekary, producer

You think you know someone: you’ve watched them nearly their whole life, playing on the court, raw emotions exposed, giving interviews, boasting about their success, and making millions.  And then they retire (young, of course, at the age of 36), wait a few years, then they tell you the truth that they’ve been hiding for the past twenty years: that they hated their career.  It seems hard to believe until you read it, on paper, in black and white, with such candor.
Open: An Autobiography  has just been released in paperback and is very much worth the read, to learn how different someone can be from the image that’s created of them on television.  It’s almost comical if it weren’t so drastic.  Andre Agassi still has a great deal of affection for his father, but he doesn’t really pull any punches about his childhood.  It’s difficult to remove the image of Mike Agassi taping a paddle to his baby boy’s hand so he can swipe at the tennis balls hanging from a mobile above his crib.  Andre never has a choice in life, and even though he goes through the motions (ultimately earning him eight grand slam titles), he rebels along the way.
That rebellious image, misinterpreted as it may have been, was used to promote Canon.  In the book, Agassi explains that he didn’t know what the commercial was going to be – he didn’t know the punch line, “Image is Everything,” until he was on-set and the director told him to look in the camera and repeat those words.  It’s one of his regrets in life.  And it’s one of the many revelations he discloses in his book, along with the hair piece he wore after his own hair started to fall out, the proposal he wishes he hadn’t made to Brooke Shields, the potatoes and lentils he was forced to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner early in his career, and his attempt to lie to the Association of Tennis Professionals about using crystal meth. 



Bob Edwards Weekend (October 18-19, 2014)

Hi everyone. Going forward, I will try to get these posted every Wednesday for the next week’s programming and for the weekend. But there is a better way for you to get this information in a timely manner. Send an email to and request to be added to our mailing list. It’s just our schedule compiled by me and sent in a simple email, usually on Fridays. Thanks so much.

-Chad Campbell | Senior Producer


Bob Edwards Weekend Highlights – October 18-19, 2014

HOUR ONE: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin examines how a brutal fight for the presidential nomination destroyed a friendship in her book The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. It’s just come out in paperback.

In 2000, DJ John Peel called country singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell’s debut album, “my favorite record of the last ten years and possibly my life.”  Cantrell joins Bob in our performance studio to talk about her work and play a few tunes from her latest album titled No Way There From Here.


HOUR TWO: John Carlos won bronze in the 200 meter dash at the 1968 Olympics, but it was his raised-fist salute alongside gold medalist Tommie Smith that etched him into American sports iconography. He talks with Bob about his autobiography — titled The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World.

When Franz Wisner was just about to get married, his fiancée suddenly called off the wedding. To save some of his personal and financial investment, Franz invited his younger brother Kurt to join him on the already-paid-for honeymoon in Costa Rica. They loved it and decided they should keep traveling together for two more years. Franz wrote about their adventures in his book titled Honeymoon with My Brother.



The Bob Edwards Show Schedule (October 20-24, 2014)


Hi everyone. Going forward, I will try to get these posted every Wednesday for the next week’s programming and for the weekend. But there is a better way for you to get this information in a timely manner. Send an email to and request to be added to our mailing list. It’s just our schedule compiled by me and sent in a simple email, usually on Fridays.


Chad Campbell | Senior Producer


THE BOB EDWARDS SHOW HIGHLIGHTS – October 20 – October 24, 2014


Monday, October 20, 2014: Bob talks with one of his musical favorites, Chuck Leavell, the pianist whose buoyant sound has graced records from The Allman Brothers Band in the 1970s to The Rolling Stones of today. Leavell wrote a book about his experiences on the road and in the studio called Between Rock and a Home Place.  From November of 2004, just seven weeks into our decade of interviews, Chuck Leavell was the first of many guests to visit with Bob for a full hour.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014:  Bob talks to StoryCorps founder and radio producer Dave Isay about his book Ties that Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First 10 Years of StoryCorps.  Then, brothers David and Joe Henry examine the life of comedian Richard Pryor in their book Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him.  Both books are now available in paperback.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014:  Today, we look back at The Cuban Missile Crisis. On this day in 1962, President Kennedy announced an air and naval blockade of Cuba, after the U.S. discovered evidence of Soviet missile installations on the island just 90 miles from mainland America. First, Bob talks with Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs, who spent years carefully researching the Cuban missile crisis, unearthing new material for an hour-by-hour account of the Cold War’s apex.  Dobbs’ book is titled One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War.  Then, Bob talks with professor James Blight whose book and film The Armageddon Letters is a mutlimedia storytelling project about the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Blight is an expert on those 13 tense October days in 1962 when nuclear war nearly broke out between the United States and the Soviet Union.


Thursday, October 23, 2014: Bob spends the hour with Father Gregory Boyle in East Los Angeles. For nearly two decades, Boyle has helped thousands of gang members trade a life of violent crime for an honest day’s work. Father G-Dog, as he’s been nicknamed by the community, is the founder of Homeboy Industries, whose mission is to find and create jobs for ex-gang members. Homeboy Industries runs five businesses of its own, including a tattoo removal parlor, a landscaping service and a cafe.  Ever since conducting this original interview with Father Greg in 2005, Bob has called it his favorite conversation.


Friday, October 24, 2014:  We’ll mark United Nations Day with a sampling of interviews dealing with the important, but misunderstood and perhaps outdated world body.  First, Bob discusses the UN Security Council with American University professor David Bosco, author of the book Five to Rule Them All: the UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World. Next a visit from Jan Egeland.  He was in charge of coordinating humanitarian relief for the United Nations during some of the world’s most horrific recent events: the tsunami in Asia, the crisis in Darfur, the aftermath of the Iraq war. Egeland’s book about his experience is called A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity. Then, Michel Gabaudan is a former member of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. He shares his stories of conducting field missions around the world to gather information about the basic needs of displaced people.



Ruben Martinez and When Worlds Collide

by Chad Campbell, senior producer
NOTE: This blog post is from 2010
Go to this address to watch the entire film online.

Ruben Martinez is a successful author, a professor of literature and writing at Loyola Marymount University and the host of a new documentary premiering tonight on PBS. It’s called When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas After Contact and it focuses on what the Spanish Conquistadors found in the “New World” and on how civilizations on both sides of the Atlantic were changed. The film makes the argument that the average American in 1490 was healthier and better off than the average European. The natives of North and South America enjoyed a much better climate and consumed a far more varied diet which included potatoes, chocolate, tomatoes and corn - all “discovered” on this side of the ocean. We also learn that Americans were mass producing red dye from an insect that lived on a local cactus. This knowledge was revolutionary to Europe’s fashion trends, textile manufacturing and to artists like Rembrandt who used the dye in his painting “The Jewish Bride.” 


Martinez was a guest on our show several years ago to discuss immigration and in fact has written a trilogy of books on the subject: The Other SideCrossing Over and The New Americans.


Click here to read Ruben Martinez’s essay on his own personal colliding worlds.

Here’s a link to a timeline with notable events from the old world and the new.

Click here to learn more about historical figures featured in the documentary.

Here’s a link to purchase a DVD copy.




Bill Siemering

Bill Siemering is a child of radio having grown up listening to the country’s first station in Wisconsin, then going to school in Madison and working his way through WHA.  But it’s really not a stretch to call him a “father” of public radio. He was there for the very beginning of National Public Radio, responsible for writing its first mission statement. He was there for the launch of All Things Considered as NPR’s first Director of Programming. Later, at member station WHYY in Philadelphia, Siemering nurtured Fresh Air with Terry Gross and helped it reach a national audience. These days, Siemering helps launch radio shows and nurture independent radio stations in developing countries like Mongolia and Sierra Leone as the president of Developing Radio Partners. This interview originally aired in September of 2007 and includes examples of early programming produced by Siemering, as well as more recent productions from some of the distant radio stations he helped launch. Bill Siemering called this the definitive interview of his career and I am proud that we can present it to you again today.