For years I've wanted to thank you for a little on-air morale boost back in 2006.
Then an aspiring writer, I'd passed the scene of the aftermath of a fatal accident in my neighborhood. It was the first day of Thanksgiving week and three young men had died early the day before when their truck hit a tree on the median. Apparently sensing the overwhelming sadness within the community during this morning rush hour, the city landscapers who'd arrived to finish uprooting the fallen tree and dispose of it went about the job with great reverence and respect for onlookers, beginning with a head-bowed, hands-folded, eyes-closed minute of silence before starting. So touched, I pulled over and observed their actions for 45 minutes, including how they interacted so respectfully with numerous teens who'd come to lay wreaths, tie balloons and kneel in prayer.
When the scene had cleared I drove home and wrote up an article, secretly wanting to send it to the newspaper but not at all confident that the editor/s wouldn't toss it in the trash for its amateurish style. So I e-mailed it to you, my local "idol," instead.
You could have ignored it completely, but you read it to yourself. Having decided it was a bit too depressing for a Monday, you could have left it at that and never mentioned it. Instead, you took the time, on-air, to say that you liked the story, explain why you couldn't read it aloud, and to thank me "very much for sending it in." Silly as it may sound, hearing that from you--a talk show host whom I'd long respected and admired for your great work--gave me the confidence I needed to dare send it to a news editor.
You know this story: About a week later one of the editors called to say she loved the article and would publish it. Then she asked if I'd consider writing for her.
Nearly five years later I can say that it's been five of the best years of my life, doing a job I love and working for this fabulous editor who's been a phenomenal mentor and now friend. Every time I count my blessings as a professional writer you're on the list.
The fact that your opinion and encouragement mattered to me at all is another "Thank you":
You're one of the most talented talk show hosts I've ever heard. The talent goes beyond the more obvious (yet uncommon) ability to inform and entertain for four hours a day. What I so respect and admire is how you share the knowledge, experiences and observations you've acquired in your lifetime, about numerous topics, and you remain extremely fair-minded and inclusive and respectful of your audience.
You've taught me more about American history during cumulative hours in a decade than I'd ever cared to learn in 35 years prior. "Cared" is the key. You have a gift for enlightening your audience by presenting information in an interesting, enthusiastic and relevant way, often tying in personal stories or examples of the impacts your own love of history have had on you. In fact, you introduced me to libertarianism, with which I've learned I most identify, inspiring me again--this time to consider writing about the dynamics and pitfalls of modern American culture. (If I ever write that book you'll be the first to know.)
Your fair-mindedness doesn't seem to preclude your expressions of your personal opinions, which I appreciate hearing before you "open up the conversation" to listeners. And even when I've called in with statements that may have seemed off-the-wall even to you, you were cool, giving me the chance to curb my zeal and re-frame for future calls. In addition, you're candid about life, enabling younger listeners to realize that there are many paths that can lead to personal success and that we all make mistakes; the smart thing to do is learn from them and try your best each day.
I realize that everything you're willing and able to do for us today is a result of a lifetime of your own thought, reflection, observation and adherence to certain principles and ethics. Had you not chosen to shape yourself in this way at critical points in your life, your audience would not be benefiting today.
Thanks for all you share: the humor, the knowledge, the guests, the insights, the overall respect and excellence with which you communicate. You inspire and invoke the critical thinker in me. Well done, sir.
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