sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 30, 2006

mr. rogers for adults
posted by soe 11:22 pm

I listen to a number of podcasts that I think could be of interest to you. This is the first of a periodic series highlighting them.

When I started my first real job after college, I was still living at home — about a 20 minute drive from work. Every morning, at 7:30, I would flip the tv over from the weather to PBS. A familiar jazz piano song would fill my ears and I would get ready to spend half an hour with an old friend, Fred Rogers. Yes, at 22, I started watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood again.

Starting a new job is stressful. All my colleagues were my parents’ age (or older) and I was the boss of kids just a few years younger than myself. I was trying to learn all sorts of new programs and figure out expectations in order to meet them. I answered the phones — and I never knew any of the answers. I helped put together a publication that came out biweekly (it was the sort of publication where the delivery pickup man was always ready before we were). And, it turns out, I had an undiagnosed case of mono. So I was struggling to keep my head above water.

But for 30 minutes a day, an old friend sat me down and explained how things worked using Picture Picture and the mini movies Mr. McFeeley brought to the house. He sang songs designed to make his watchers (preschoolers, I understand) feel safe and respected and understood. He sent me into the Land of Make-Believe to let my imagination wander. And then he packed up his stuff, changed back into his work clothes, and looked into the camera. “You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” And I needed to hear that.

Mr. Rogers is gone now, but his spirit lives on in a podcaster named Sage Tyrtle. She is the host of a daily podcast called Quirky Nomads, which she records (by my understanding) in a closet in her apartment in Toronto.

Sage, like many Americans, is unhappy with the direction the U.S. is headed in. Like many of us, she and her husband swore that if things kept going that way, they’d move to Canada. Unlike most of us, though, she and Todd followed through. They moved with their son, Paul, and cats across the border.

But this isn’t where their story ends. Sage travels around the city of Toronto, super-sneaky, tiny notebook in hand, recording snippets of conversations she hears. She dramatizes them, as well as the imagined backgrounds to photographs and letters she’s found. She invites her listeners to leave her comments, to create stories, to answer questions, to record “clicks,” to take part in the show, to shape the show into something that is our own collectively. She helps us to realize that we are not alone in the greater cosmos, that there are others out there who want to find the best in the world.

This week’s shows offered a cat radio play, a story about a young girl and her bandana, and a look back at Sage and Todd’s wedding.

I like to listen to Quirky Nomads while I’m on the Metro to work. It’s good to start your day with perspective — even if you lose it for periods of time during the day — and Sage’s show offers me that. She asks me to be a better person and I am grateful to her for the reminder that I can be. Like Mr. Rogers, Sage encourages me to take a deep breath and to look around to find the greater humanity around me, to find my neighbors, and to appreciate them just for being themselves.

You can download Quirky Nomads from Sage’s website or via iTunes’ podcast directory.

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