On Monday, October 13th, the Radio Television News Directors Asssociation recognized The Bob Edwards Show and gave us an Edward R. Murrow Award for best national radio documentary. Our winning program, "The Invisible--Children Without Homes," was a report on the 1.3 million homeless children in America. Our story concerned children homeless because their parents were homeless, but also children who were runaways and children who were throwaways because parents no longer wanted them. Nearly all the children were victims of domestic violence. In some cases, their caregivers were sick and receiving no treatment. A great many of the throwaways are on the street because they are gay and lesbian and their parents scorn them. We talked to young people--male and female---who survived on the streets alone by their wits--by petty criminality--and by selling their bodies as early as age 12. They did what they had to do to survive. We made no judgements of them--we left you free to draw your own judgements of their circumcstances and the choices they made--or were forced to make. It was a powerful program and profoundly affected all of us who were part of it.
The program was my idea, but once Ariana Pekary agreed to produce it--it became hers. She worked tirelessly on it and added so much of her own vision and creativity that I totally surrender ownership of the program to her. She went well beyond what I had expected of her and made it her own. We heard these amazing, moving stories of destitution and despair, tried to maintain our professional dignity, and then went off to a corner to cry. It is astonishing how so many young people are in the care of elders incapable of nurture--who seem to have no understanding of the concept of nurture. I raised three fabulous children who, as adults, continue to give me joy and it's very painful for me to talk with young people whose caregivers wanted no part of them. Ariana and I talked with young people who were highly motivated, but lacked any skills to improve their lot. These were the most painful interviews---abused young people--loveable but doomed. Ultimately, we found one young woman who defied the odds and was detrermined she was not going to become the young black teenaged female cliche. Zanoni Bishop, a teenaged African-American, physically abused by her mentally ill mother, left home and slept in the park while taking multiple Advanced Placement courses in high school. She told us of her educational and professional dreams which had to do with law and the environment and Third World developement. Zanoni is now a freshman at Florida A & M. Ariana and I are convinced you will hear more from Zanoni Bishop someday.
The photograph accompanying this story shows four of us at a black tie evening accepting our Edward R. Murrow Award. I am, of course, the old guy and it's obvious which one is Ariana. The shaved-headed, ex-Marine is executive producer Steve Lickteig, who edited the documentary. The young fellow with all the hair is Dan Bloom, who recorded most of the interviews. I love every one of them and want you to get to know them, too.
This is the first time RTNDA has recognized a satellite radio program. It shows that there is a place for original journalism within satellite radio and that satellite radio belongs in the broadcast journalism communiy. This is a breakthrough moment for Sirius XM.