“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
I suppose it’s human nature to resist change. We find habits and routines comforting, even if our custom is to never plan anything. I am one of those people who need to plan spontaneity. So I really don’t like it when schedules change, even if others consider them no big deal.
That said, I’ve become increasingly upset with NPR over the last year.
It started last summer when they cancelled Talk of the Nation. Although I only caught the last half of the show due to my work schedule, it was a comforting way to wind down the day before my daily run. In fact, I would credit Talk of the Nation with the creation of this very blog since many of the ideas Neal Conan discussed became the things I thought about while running. It was Talk of the Nation’s coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombings that inspired my very first post. I don’t pretend to know all the reasons for cancelling the program, but NPR’s official stance was that there were too many call-in shows already in production. However, I personally suspect that budget concerns played a major role as well. While many of the topics debated were divisive (as they were designed to be) I found the majority of the program to be well balanced. With the notable exception, of course, of the time I called in response to their appeal for educated, conservative Christians and was told that my views didn’t fit with their program. I still wonder if I intimidated them. On top of the atrocity of cancelling my then-favorite news show, the executives at NPR had the gall to replace it with Here and Now, a fine production in its own way, but definitely lacking in the comfort and intellectual stimulus I found in Talk of the Nation.
At least they kept Science Friday (for now).
I’d just about recovered from losing Talk of the Nation when I heard that Carl Kassel was retiring from Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!. I realize that this isn’t NPR’s fault per se; after all, the man has been involved in radio for over sixty years. But, much like your first Doctor (David Tennant), you never forget your first show presenter. Although other men have filled the roles, I can’t imagine Wheel of Fortune without Pat Sajak, Jeopardy! without Alex Trebek, or Mystery Science Theater 3000 without Michael J. Nelson (sorry, Joel, but Michael was better. Also, CROOOOOW!) Even though Mr. Kassel’s departure hasn’t ended Wait Wait, I feel as if it isn’t the same. Who’s Carl This Time? is no more.
If Peter Sagal ever leaves WWDTM, I think I’ll have an existential crisis. If Garrison Keillor ever retires from Prairie Home Companion, I know I will.
If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that in my search to fill the void I’ve discovered new podcasts on iTunes. Stuff You Should Know is great, but almost killed me with their April Fool’s Day episode when they announced one of the hosts (Josh? Chuck? I think it was Chuck) had left unexpectedly and wouldn’t be returning. Through them, I also found Stuff You Missed In History Class (most of which I didn’t miss, thanks to several wonderful history teachers and professors). I also discovered another NPR game show, Ask Me Another, which has helped me tremendously when it comes to Buffalo Wild Wings Team Trivia night.
Despite these positive replacements, I still don’t like change, unless it means Paula Poundstone wins on Wait Wait.
This post is being published as part of Writing 101. Challenge 4: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.