Listener Counts On Barbershop 'Yup Yup'

Guest host Celeste Headlee and editor Ammad Omar crack open the listener mailbox. This week they check out the ongoing discussion about Tell Me More's Twitter education forum at #NPRedchat. They also hear from a listener whose weekend was ruined after a Barbershop slip.

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is with us. What do you have for us, today, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: All right. We're going to start off with some education news. We covered that Chicago teachers strike quite a bit on the show and there's news now that the Chicago Public Schools CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, is stepping down from that job, so we'll keep you posted on that story as it develops.

Speaking of education, we had our first Twitter Education Forum down in Miami this week. Michel was down at member station WLRN and we teamed up with the education reporters with the StateImpact Florida Project.

Anyway, we spoke with education innovators, like Salman Kahn and the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who is another former Chicago Schools CEO, might I add. So, even before the whole thing started, we'd been using this hash tag #NPREdChat on Twitter since back in September, actually, and that's let us talk to educators and students and anyone else with a stake in the education game from all across the country, and that conversation is still going strong off the radio at hash tag #NPREdChat.

HEADLEE: That's right. You can jump on Twitter at any time and talk to people like Michelle Rhee or some of our reporters and producers about the best ways to improve our schools, or maybe you think our schools don't need reforming at all.

So what else have you got, Ammad?

OMAR: All right. We had a conversation this week about parenting with Alina Adams. She's Jewish. She's from Eastern Europe and her husband is African-American. And she says that, sometimes, it's better for their kids to hide their identity, whether it's waiting for a cab and she doesn't want people to know they're black or, if they're in an airport and she thinks it's better for them to hide their Jewish background.

Now, that got a lot of reaction from listeners. We got a letter from Leon George(ph). He's Armenian and he grew up in Richmond, Virginia.

LEON GEORGE: I usually do not comment on what your guests say. However, this time, I must. I'm Armenian, over 60 years old and I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and I never hid what or who I am. Did that cause fights? Yes. Of course, it did, but no one ever came back for a second helping. Stand tall, stand proud, stand loud. Stop cringing in the shadows.

OMAR: Leon wants people to know, though, that he's not advocating violence in response to words. He's just saying that people should defend themselves.

HEADLEE: Right. Thank you. Got anything else?

OMAR: All right. Last bit, Celeste. Our BarberShop is now in podcast form. You can download that on iTunes and we got a couple of interesting calls and emails this week about our first Podcasted episode.

One big fan of the BarberShop is Cynthia Bannes(ph). She's from upstate New York. She's an octogenarian. That means she's in her 80s.

HEADLEE: Right.

OMAR: But she loves hearing the guys in the shop.

CYNTHIA BANNES: I know they have profound differences on some issues, but they have the grace and the humor to appreciate that in that they don't all talk at the same time and they have a little humor and - but they still have the passion to give their viewpoint, coherently, without having some of them step outside to settle the issue.

OMAR: All right. We're not allowed to talk about what goes on outside, so I'm going to leave that there. But, Celeste, you had your first trip to the BarberShop...

HEADLEE: That's right.

OMAR: ...a couple of weeks ago and you got some pretty good reviews. But Keith Langsdale(ph) from Amherst, Massachusetts wrote in and he had one bit of advice. Here he is.

KEITH LANGSDALE: Yeah. I'm an old white guy who listens, each week, to the BarberShop with great enthusiasm. I just love the show. Please tell Celeste that the end of the show is Jimi saying, yup, yup. She cut him off, and my day - my week is just not the same without that. Some things in this world are sacred. Jimi is.

OMAR: Ain't that the truth. We'll give you another shot, though, Celeste. Jimi's standing by, so you get another crack at it.

HEADLEE: Thanks, Ammad. And, of course, remember, at TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can visit us online at npr.org/TellMeMore. Please, remember to leave us your name. We're on Twitter, as well. Just look for #TellMeMoreNPR. Thanks, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you.

HEADLEE: Yup, yup.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HEADLEE: Up next, fast talk, cutting looks, sharp words. Not the debate. It's the classic David Mamet play, "Glengarry Glen Ross."

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY "GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (As Character) A always, B be, C closing. Always be closing. Always be closing.

HEADLEE: As the play turns 30, our BarberShop guys take the stage to talk about what "Glengarry Glen Ross" means today and they'll weigh in on some other news of the week. That's ahead on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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