“Baby, We Were Made for Each Other”

Last night Sarah and I attended an evening with NPR’s Scott Simon, hosted by KUNC, in Boulder. Scott is on tour to talk about his life at NPR, and to promote his new book, “Baby, We Were Made for Each Other,” about the experience of adopting two children.

For me, meeting Scott was putting a face to a voice as familiar to me as that of my own father, for I have listened to him nearly every Saturday morning for more than a decade, perhaps as many as fifteen years. His thoughtful approach to sharing not just sound bites but complete stories is the very essence of NPR’s philosophy which draws more than thirty million listeners every day.

Scott is a deeply intelligent, engaging, humorous individual who knows how to deliver a story in such a way that the audience laughs and learns at the same time. But by no means was the entire evening filled with humor, for Scott himself was moved to tears as he spoke of the loss of Dan Shore this summer, and the joy of his two adopted daughters. With him, many of us in the audience were moved as well.

Scott spoke of his friendship with Senator Paul Simon whose adopted son’s birth certificate stated he was Native American. Only at age twenty eight, when he was reunited with his birth mother did he learn he was actually Swedish. The mistaken identity was the result of a hilarious misunderstanding at birth, which when told by Scott caused the entire audience to nearly fall from their chairs.

Scott tells of his oldest daughter, now six, throwing a tantrum in a restaurant. Scott, his wife, and daughters excuse themselves from their friends to go home.

His daughter says to Scott’s wife, “Mom, I was hungry.”

His wife responds, frustrated, “Then you should have eaten the food you left on your plate!”

“No, when I was in my mother,” referring to when she was in China and her mother did not have the resources to keep her healthy, even before birth. And then she continued, “Why didn’t you come for me then?”

For as hard as we laughed that evening, we cried as well.

It is a rare individual who can be on the road as often as Scott is, speaking to people two, three or a half dozen times a month and on every occasion deliver his stories in such a way that each audience feels they were the first to receive him on what must surely be the beginning of his tour.

A Passion for Public Radio

I took from this evening two things: an appreciation for those a man who moves people without ego and without fear; and a deepened sense of appreciation for public radio.

In speaking with the station, content, and music directors of KUNC I found myself engaged with individuals who have been involved with KUNC for as many as three decades because they truly believe in what they do.

I was reminded that public radio is not just an alternative to commercial radio, but is an expression of a strong philosophy for how news is to be recorded, edited, and reported–for how the art of communication and story telling must be carried into the 21st century if we are to maintain some semblance of integrity in an otherwise heavily filtered world of sound bites and political slants.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not listen to NPR, in my home office or via satellite radio while driving. And as my friends, co-workers, and climbing partners will verify, there is not a day that goes by that I do not quote some portion of a story I have heard on NPR.

While this is may begin to read as a publicity piece for NPR, I do ask that for those of you who listen to public radio, please contribute to your local affiliate station; and for those of you who do not, you don’t know what you are missing