Monday’s Blog; Applauding Diane Rehm

 Diane Rehm has been one of my highly revered heroins.  I have been her devoted fan for years tuning into the Diane Rehm NPR radio news talk show, privy to her public and private thoughts, her knowledge, wisdom and incredible talent as a thorough and persistent interviewer. How many hours were spent researching each topic or interviewee (staff aided I am sure, but Diane always in charge.) I bring up her name because I have just finished reading her autobiography, On My Own

As Diane appears on the cover of her book, Photographer Matt McClain

It is intensely written, highly personable and personal and read in a day or two, leaving the reader breathless and full of wonder and admiration at her long career, the multitude of health problems including spasmodic dysphonia, a vocal hardship for one depending so deeply upon her voice and her husband John (Scoop) and his long and difficult bout with Parkinson’s disease. She deals with the intense feelings after John’s death of disbelief, guilt, and facing grief and her long road to starting anew, facing the world and carrying on. As a result, Euthanasia as a controversial option has become a big cause in her life. 

I mourn the day she retired from the radio broadcast and can not help relating my belief that Diane had been highly educated with at least 3 Ph.D’s. Not so, she fell into the job as an NPR volunteer and slid into her valuable career thus enriching all of the lives of her large and devoted audience. 

In response to both her interviewees and her callers, she could be polite and warm, cold and swift, short and coarse but mostly open and understanding; in my mind an effective attitude when facing so many diverse opinions.  I can not possibly count the thousands of hours her voice accompanied me in my dark room, in my studio, driving in the car, returning home and running to turn on the radio so as not to miss much of the show.  I was always left with new dimensions to contemplate or research about issues and ideas. She often spoke of her travels to other places, other NPR stations, universities and the like speaking or sharing as she gathered information, experiences and wisdom to share with her audience. In her absence, there were wonderful substitutes, but I missed Diane’s voice, style and approach, waiting for her to return to the air. 

In her book, Diane talks insightfully,  fondly and whole-heartedly about how other NPR talents affected her life and as they grew into their own careers and handled their own family matters. These are names we all know and revere, Roger Mudd, Susan Stamberg, Eleanor Clift and so many more. 

One last thought before I end, I was privileged to meet Diane twice while volunteering in Rochester, NY’s wonderful NPR station, WXXI-1370. I served as a reader for Reachout Radio for years, reading newspaper articles, obits, shopping coupons, stories and such to a vision-impaired audience, hearing our voices on a special radio unit given to each listener. Now that I have been RVing on the road for so many years, I cannot volunteer in this way and I miss it tremendously. 

The first time I met Diane, I had just finished my microphone time as she walked into the studio area. I knew she was in town as she often came to Rochester to speak and share but never expected “face time” with Diane. Wonder of wonders, she spent at least a good 20 minutes with me. We crammed a lot of talk into that time, never glancing at a clock but willing to stay and chat. I will never forget that day.  I met her again 2 or 3 years later. She said she remembered me, astounded,  I certainly gave her a big hug. 

Diane Rehm I send you many hugs again as I write this from deep in my heart that is so devoted to you and your rich contributions to my life.