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Taking a Travel Day -- To Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
October 14, 2009  | By David Bianculli
mister-rogers.jpgToday I'm heading out over the Ben Franklin Bridge and deep into the western part of Pennsylvania, heading for Latrobe, PA, for the annual meeting of the Fred Rogers Center Advisory Council. This year, for the first time, I'm a member of the council...

What I'll be able to provide, other than comic relief and emotional support, I have no idea. But I'm honored to be a part of anything associated with the late Fred Rogers, whose influence on children's television -- and on millions and millions of current and former children -- is incalculable.

I'll report from the other end of the conference about the wonderful ideas being bandied about there, to use TV and new media to encourage and educate children, rather than exploit and distract them. But if I don't get on the road soon, I'll be late arriving to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and I wouldn't want that.

Can you say "rude," boys and girls?




Linda said:

Dave -- I was at the NATPE convention many years ago (one of many NATPE conventions!) and was lucky enough to hear Mr. Rogers speak at the Keynote session. I'm not sure just how many people were in attendance at that particular session but, as it was a breakfast session, I think it's safe to say there were many thousands! The room was filled with everyone from top industry executives all the way down to me...someone trying to get kids programming for a television group that no one was really all that interested in dealing with at that time. But that's another story! Anyway... Mr. Rogers did something I understand he was fond of doing. He asked for everyone to think about someone who, if I remember correctly, was influential in their lives. Someone who made the earliest impression on them. What exactly he said wasn't as important as what followed. The entire room became so incredibly silent (a huge banquet room in a convention center!). Not a word was uttered, not a chair moved, not one utensil hit a plate. And then I began to hear sniffling and a few very quiet sobs now and then.

The affect Mr. Rogers had on this group of folks who were usually so busy trying to do their jobs, make money and find "the next big thing" -- to say nothing of the egos in that room! -- was awe-inspiring. Not to mention the fact that when Mr. Rogers said we had to stop and think, we did it!

His influence on and example to everyone -- not just kids -- is something to be admired. And in this very uncivil television environment, we could use a little of Mr. Rogers!

I wish you and the council great success!

[That's a riot -- He pulled the same trick on a roomful of crabby TV critics when we gave him the TCA's Career Achievement Award, and it hit us just as hard! Snickers (he's really gonna stand still for a full minute and look at his watch?) turned to sobs within a few seconds. Amazing man -- and I feel honored to be here, among all these amazing people who are trying to carry on his mission to use media to serve children. -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 14, 2009 10:37 AM

Curtis said:

Hey, can you bring me back some Rolling Rock?

[Really funny. When I was a kid, my Uncle Tom, who lived in Pittsburgh, used to drink those little pony bottles by the case. In fact, when he was on a tall ladder picking cherries from his cherry tree, my job as a little tyke was to bring a Rolling Rock up to him at the top of the ladder. Before I could get to the bottom, I'd hear the thunk of the empty bottle on the ground, and my uncle wanting to know where his beer was. Twenty-four times. Still makes me laugh thinking about it.-- David B.]

Comment posted on October 14, 2009 4:01 PM

Carina said:

Through the wonders of the DVR, I record every Mister Rogers episode to grace the screen (which it doesn't do enough lately; most shows air at 4 or 5 am.)

While yes, we have great kids television these days, there's nothing like the calm, kind, reassuring presence of Fred Rogers. My children love to watch him, especially those marvelous behind the scenes field trips, like how construction paper is made. He'll always be TV Worth Watching. Can't wait to read your report.

[Great to hear this. Sometimes, I swear, you guys really warm my heart. Thanks for reading the site, writing your comment, and having such superlative taste. -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 14, 2009 7:41 PM
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