Monday, November 24, 2014: This week we are giving thanks for the interviews we conducted before it was too late. Pete Seeger was banned from American commercial television for more than 17 years, after topping both the pop charts and the Hollywood blacklist. Seeger wrote or co-wrote many of our most iconic folk songs and was still writing and performing into his 90s. When he spoke with Bob in 2008, Seeger was about to release a new songbook and the PBS program American Masters paid tribute to him with a show called The Power of Song. Pete Seeger died in January at the age of 94. Then we’ll remember Studs Terkel. In the spring of 2005 Bob traveled to Chicago and to Terkel’s home to reminisce about his career as a writer, broadcaster, oral historian and story teller.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014: We continue our series of timely interviews by remembering renowned poet, author, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. She died in May at the age of 86. Angelou is known best for her award-winning writing, including her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her collection of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie. Bob spoke to Maya Angelou in 2006 and we share their conversation on writing, aging, and being an American. Then we’ll remember the youngest member of our group. Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February at the age of 46. In 2005, he spoke with Bob about his career and his film “Capote.” Hoffman won his only Academy Award for that role as Truman Capote.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014: We’re giving thanks this week for interviews Bob conducted before it was too late. Today we remember Phil Ramone, the legendary music producer who worked with everyone from Stan Getz to Madonna. He produced the celebrated Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles duets albums, won over a dozen Grammys, and had more than 60 platinum records to his name. Ramone was one of the most influential talents in modern popular music. He died in March of 2013 at age 79. Next, we pay tribute to legendary guitarist Les Paul. Considered one of the 20th century’s guitar masters and innovators, Les Paul influenced countless musicians. In 2008, Bob visited Paul at The Iridium Club, where he played a weekly gig. Les Paul died in August 2009 at the age of 94. Then Bob visits with baseball legend Buck O’Neil about his long career. O’Neil was an All-Star first baseman with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. In 1962 the Chicago Cubs made him the first black coach in Major League History. And he was a masterful storyteller. Buck O’Neil died in October of 2006, also at the age of 94.
Thursday, November 27, 2014: We’ll take a break from our week-long series today for Thanksgiving. While most of America gathers with family and friends for an annual feast, millions of other Americans are dealing with poverty and hunger. It’s estimated that as many as 49 million Americans do not get enough to eat each day and that almost as many citizens are living below the poverty line. In a new set of interviews before a live audience, Bob talks about efforts to change those numbers with Bill Ayres, co-founder of WhyHunger and with Jen Chapin, daughter of folk singer Harry Chapin, the non-profit’s other co-founder. Chapin also serves on the organization’s board of directors.
Friday, November 28, 2014: Today we remember some of the old-guard journalists Bob talked with through the years, starting with CBS News and 60 Minutes legend Mike Wallace. In 2007, Bob talked to Wallace about his struggles with depression and the continuing stigma attached to mental illnesses. Wallace died in April 2012 at the age of 93. Next we listen back to Bob’s 2007 conversation with Helen Thomas. The pioneering female journalist covered the White House under ten presidents, starting with the Kennedy administration. Thomas died in July 2013 at the age of 92. Next, Bob visits the office of Ben Bradlee at the Washington Post for a wide-ranging discussion of journalism and politics. Bradlee was 93 when he passed away last month. And we conclude this Thanksgiving Week with Bob’s 2005 conversation with the always outspoken Molly Ivins. The Texas-based syndicated columnist died in 2007 at age 62.