Letters: NPR's New CEO And Becoming A Poet

NPR's Neal Conan reads from Talk of the Nation listener comments on previous show topics, including advice for NPR's new CEO, Gary Knell, and the moments when a writer realizes he or she has become a poet.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. Last week, NPR's new president and CEO, Gary Knell, joined us on his first day on the job. Many of you wrote to tell him what you do if you were running NPR.

Vanessa in Cleveland offered this suggestion: I think Gary Knell's focus should be on fostering a love for public radio in our younger generation. I did not start listening to public radio until my 30s. I think it would be great to get high school students to listen to NPR. It might be a good idea to have a show devoted entirely to high school life and the issues that surround it.

And Paul Stern(ph) emailed from Philadelphia to tell us: I'm a 26-year-old conservative, and I grew up listening to NPR. But I've always got the impression that NPR dislikes me as a conservative. Please ask the new CEO to spend time listening to conservative feedback on the news and commentary shows. Some of us really love NPR and would like to be included in the culture of the network.

Nikky Finney also joined us last week, fresh off her win at the National Book Awards to talk about what the honor means to her, an also what it means to be a poet.

Richard Hill from Tijuana, Mexico, emailed: Poetry was a means of doodling during business writing. As a project manager, these short verses were part of my development since childhood. But I think I became a poet when I wrote a comforting verse to my dinner date after she'd received some distressing news. She thanked me, gave me a soft kiss, placed the missive a zippered pocket inside of her purse, and whispered suggestively, let's get dessert.

When we talked with Judy Blume, a number of librarians wrote to complain when we noted that her books had been banned in a number of school libraries over the years.

This is from Susan Kaphammer(ph) in Washington State. It should be clarified that school libraries do not ban books, but sometimes requests for reconsideration of materials have resulted in books being removed from library collections. Professional teacher librarians are charged with selecting materials and with upholding freedom-to-read principles. Parents may certainly guide the reading choices of their own children, but the right to limit access for all students should be limited ideally.

And often, complaints about materials either from within the school or from the outside community engage a comprehensive review process that considers the value of a work in its entirety and its appropriateness for the intended audience. Unfortunately, in some cases, school staff or administration sidestep such a process and allow minority pressure to effectively ban materials. By the way, banning a book is a proven way to increase student interest in it.

And a correction. During our conversation about the new TLC reality show, "All-American Muslim," our guest said that several companies had pulled their commercials from the show under pressure from outside groups. He mentioned Home Depot, Sweet'N Low and Wal-Mart. A spokesman from Home Depot told us: It's not true that they bought time on the network not for any specific show. Although one of our commercials did appear during an episode, we were not a sponsor, and we did not have any advertising schedule to run on future episodes. The other companies did not respond to our requests for comment.

If you have a correction, comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address: talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us there, @totn. Or you can follow me, @nealconan, all one word.

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