Thursday, January 22, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor?





He liked you just the way you are.

Some of you already know how I feel concerning the late childrens television host, Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mister Rogers. If not, please see this piece.

I believe that another story about Fred Rogers is instructive concerning how great an impact he might have on a child. From my dear blogging friend, John-Michael, came this, in response to my piece:

I was shaving one morning, in preparation for the commencement of the day's 'stuff', and heard Matt (my son who has cerebral palsy) talking with someone. Now, Jim, you should understand that I had run the gauntlet of specialists, therapists, teachers, and doctors in an attempt to discover a way to open Matt to expression of himself so that I could 'plug in' to him 'where he was' in mental ability and cognitive awareness. No luck!

So, on this occasion, I was intrigued as to what or who was evoking such deliberate and direct conversation from Matt (inasmuch as it was just him and me at home.) So, around the corner I peeked. And there Matt sat ... inches away from the TV ... listening to Mister Rogers' questions (in that slow, patient, deliberate, gentle way of his) ... and having been given the time to process each question ... and being looked directly at with eyes that bespoke respect and interest in just him out of all of the whole wide world ... Matt responded.

From that moment on, I was the only person in Matt's world with whom he was comfortable communicating on an intimate, vulnerable and sensitive level.

I have loved Fred Rogers since (and am adding his image to my blog's "Gallery of Significants.)


A few months back, my local PBS station stopped running episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I wrote to them, asking that they resume airing the show. They did not.

At that time, I thought that the decision was strictly local. Now, I have learned - perhaps a bit late - that PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service in America) had decided to take the show completely off of it's national syndication schedule. It is still offered to local stations, for airing in open local time slots, but these are often available during times when children will not be likely to see it. Many stations that DO still air the show have reduced the show's place on the schedule to once a week, usually very early on a Saturday or Sunday morning; perhaps 5 or 6 AM.

I learned all of this at a website, begun by a Pittsburgh native (hometown of WQED, where Fred first worked in public television), that gives me (and you?) an outlet for my (our?) dissatisfaction concerning PBS's decision to not offer the show on national syndication.

Save Mister Rogers Neighborhood!

If Mister Rogers was a positive force in your life, as he was in mine - or if he is a trusted television friend to your children - would you please visit that website? And would you please do me a personal favor, by doing one of the things suggested there? If you do, you'll have my karmic I.O.U., and I'll gladly return the favor someday for a cause you care about deeply.

Thank you, neighbor.


26 comments:

lime said...

i am on my way there as soon as i leave this comment! thanks for the alert.

lime said...

after checking my local station i am pleased to find the program still airs at a time when young children would be able to see it. i will still send my thoughts to the national organization at the address provided on the website.

Got 2 Trot Librarian said...

Thank you very much for your generous donation to Team Eye and Ear! :)

Michelle H. said...

You are a wonderful blog neighbor, Jim! And this is a great reminder to stick up for those shows that had a positive impact on our childhood.

One tiny tidbit of info: Fred Rodgers hometown is Latrobe, Pennsylvania - 40 miles east of Pittsburgh and near Saint Vincent College, which is the training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers (Yay! Win the Super Bowl!) My brother used to live in Latrobe.

Suldog said...

You're right, of course, Michelle. I've made a necessary correction, and thank you!

GreenJello said...

Oh! That is so sad! Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was the BEST childrens' show ever. Still is.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I used to watch when i was a kid...if he has that effect on one child that is enough to warrant, it being used in education wouldnt you think...how can l helP??

Hilary said...

Fred Rogers began his show right here in Toronto, with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. His good friend Ernie Coombs (Canadians know him as Mr. Dressup) got his start alongside him and Coombs' show continued airing for a number of years after his death. Both men were brilliant in their approach with children.

I don't know if my Canadian voice will help or not (the closest PBS station is in Buffalo, N.Y.) but I'll give it a shot.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Nice to see you going to bat for the late, great Mr. Rogers, Suldog. I always respected him for the quality of his TV show, and the kids of today should know about all the fine work he dedicated his life to.

Ladybuggz said...

Thanks for the heads up! I always preferred Mr. Rogers to Seasame Street -- less frenetic. On my way to protest this decision!

Carolina said...

Haven't had the pleasure of knowing Mr Rogers. Good luck on your mission!
Hubs wanted to be a Minister too when he was just a little boy. The thought of only heaving to work on sundays appealed to him.
And I recently added a gadget to my blog: the Quote of the Day. You know what today's Quote is? "Television is a medium because anything well done is rare." by Fred Allen.

Buck said...

Sent the following to PBS via e-mail at their web site:

I just found out PBS will no longer carry Mr. Rogers' nationally and am SERIOUSLY dismayed. MRN is a timeless and beautiful program for young children, and one that cannot be replaced in quality or tone. PLEASE reconsider this poor decision.

Like Lime, I'm gratified to see my local station carries MNR daily...

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

The genial, soft-spoken man made every day `special' and every kid welcome in this long-running series. Once described as `a singing psychiatrist for children,' Rogers used puppetry, songs and storytelling to teach youngsters about family values.

Friday, January 23, 8:00 AM
KENWDT2 - CHANNEL 3.2 [D]


Some good news, eh?

Suldog said...

Indeed, Buck, it is good news to hear from some of you that Mister Rogers is still being shown 5 days a week in your areas. That certainly makes me feel a bit better overall. Thanks!

And thanks to all of you for whatever help you give. I truly do appreciate it.

John-Michael said...

I am happily off to add my voice to the chorus of caring Others. Thank you for whispering this note of alert to us. Your wonderful Heart is echoing the very sort of involved love that Fred Rogers invested a lifetime in sharing. I love you, Jim, my SulDog Friend!

Sarah said...

I wasn't aware that Mr. Rogers was off the air in so many areas! I'll check out the link...

T said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for the kind words.

I will have to check if Mr. Rogers is still airing here, I am a huge fan.

Love your blog, and writing, hope you don't mind me following.

i beati said...

consider it self done boys and girls..sk

Peter N said...

Sul, I'm going there right now, too. That post touched my heart, and my soul.

Shrinky said...

I am tempted to lie, pretend I know of him, but sadly, I can't. Seems he has left quite an impact behind though. Sounds a legacy he would be proud of. Smile.

Andrea said...

Stopped by via It Matters To Me...so glad I did. You have a great blog! :) I enjoyed my time here today. I will be back to visit! :)

Meredith Teagarden said...

I going right over. Thanks for passing this along!

Sandra Ree said...

Thanks for the link Jim. Both my boys grew up watching Mr. Rogers, I enjoyed watching him too. He was a wonderful role model.

Nana Net said...

Oh my what a shame. Seems that television just does not care anymore about good quality programming anymore!
Mr. Rogers is still on here and at various times. Thank goodness! Cause it is just a handful of shows left that are truly great!
Believe me I will head to that website as soon as I am done here.
By the way thanks for the comments left on my blog. You truly are a wonderful man. Take care my friend and I look forward to reading more of your terrific posts. Enjoy your weekend!

Nana Net

Moannie said...

I have a very vague recollection of his soft voice. Good luck in this task.

Jenn said...

Yes I just did a complete search of WGBH and could not even find the show anywhere let alone 5AM. As I have 5 nephews in the perfect age range to identify with such a fantastic show it is sad to think they will never get the chance to see it on public television. Although I know it is not a permanent solution to the problem of reairing all the episodes on PBS I did manage to find that Netflix has access to 7 episodes from 1968-2005 in their library. It isn't everything but at least its a start ib public tv does not comply with these and other requests. Thanks for sharing this info.

Janet said...

Apathy Lounge posted about this a few months back and I wrote to PBS and got THE most convoluted non-response you've ever seen. Even my Senators (to whom I write frequently) are less obtuse. As near as I could tell, they managed to couch in it terms that would blame the local stations for not carrying it, but that the national organization was pure as the driven snow and not to be blamed for the atrocity. Phht.