Checking In

I apologize for not writing more often of late, but it's been a busy but wonderful time. 

First, I went back home to Louisville. I'm on the board of St. Xavier High School, my alma mater. We've raised $25,000,000 toward a potential $28,000,000 in a capital campaign to improve the school's physical plant (which was brand new when I was a student so long ago), improve teachers' salaries, upgrade the classrooms with the latest technology that will keep my school among the top five Catholic high schools in the country, add to the endowment and create new sports facilities which are so important in attracting students to a school that has won 140 state championships in ten different sports.

Then I was off to Chicago for a conference of broadcast journalists and scholars sponsored by the Radio Television News Directors Association. RTNDA is marking the fiftieth anniversary of a speech Edward R. Murrow gave to an RTNDA convention in Chicago. At that point in his career, Murrow and his employer were just about done with one another, so Murrow let loose with a scathing speech about TV, ending with: This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. When he made that 1958 speech, Murrow was introduced by Bill Small, news director of WHAS in Louisville, the station on which I watched Murrow. Four years later, Small was running the CBS Washington bureau and over the next 20 years, was the boss of Eric Sevareid, Harry Reasoner, Daniel Schorr, Roger Mudd, Lesley Stahl, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, Bob Schieffer, Ed Bradley, Connie Chung, and many, many more giants of TV news. Last week in Chicago, Small was on a panel I moderated. So was Murrow’s son Casey, and Nick Clooney, whose son George made a movie about Murrow.

I spent last weekend in Los Angeles where the national board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) approved a new contract covering prime time programs. I serve on that board as the national union's Firs VicePresident. Our contract is opposed by another labor union, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and I will explain these labor issues in a future post.

This weekend I’m back in Chicago attending DePaul University’s commencement. Writer David Simon and I are receiving honorary degrees. David is the creator of HBO’s “Homicide” and “The Wire.” His next HBO series is “Generation Kill,” and I hope to interview him soon about that.

Monday I’m back in Washington at the National Rural Assembly, moderating a panel on rural America and the presidential election. The panel includes my former NPR pal Ray Suarez, the fabulous Colbert King of The Washington Post, and Laurie Ezzell Brown, whose family runs The Canadian Record in Canadian, Texas.

Next Thursday, producer Ariana Pekary and I will be in New York to receive an award we are unable to name until that day. It’s for our documentary, “The Invisible: Children Without Homes.” We’ll also record some interviews while we’re in New York.

The Bob Edwards Show has a couple of sharp young interns this summer---Taylor Barnes of George Washington University and John Asante of Georgia State University. Taylor baked a cake for John’s 21st birthday that was indescribably good. We’re sorry she wasn’t with us during April and May when half the staff had birthdays. As for John, he booked an interview for me the day after I met him. Murrow’s highest compliment to a CBS colleague was, “You’ll do.” John and Taylor, you’ll do.

 Also, Bob Edwards Weekend has reached a milestone, passing the century mark in the number of stations carrying our program.   We are now on 105 public radio stations plus another 20 HD stations.   Many thanks to our partners at PRI.   This progam is very important to all of us on the staff because we all embrace the public radio culture.  We hope you folks in Los Angeles, San Fancisco and Boston will ask your public radio station managers to pick up the show.   Those are biggest towns where the show is not currently on the air.  

Finally, I want to say how shocked and saddened I am by the death of Tim Russert. He was a warm and wonderful human being---just a really nice guy. A first-rate professional, NO one was more knowledgeable or better prepared for an interview than Tim Russert. He made all of us in the news business work a little harder to try to keep up with him. His son Luke does an XM program with James Carville called "60/20 Spots." It’ll be a tough Father’s Day this year for Luke.