Missouri, as we all know, is the Show Me State, and the great folks at member station KWMU in St. Louis have just spent the past three days showing me a most rewarding time.
A special thanks to St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby, Special Events Manager Phil Donato, Development Director Shelley Kerley, and Business Manager (and my own personal guardian angel) Sherry Hieken. They, and the rest of the staff, are simply the greatest: Smart, enthusiastic, and tolerant (at least when it came to me). And they all help bring public radio to a very, very loyal audience.
One of the highlights for me was speaking at two events organized by Barbara Eagleton, wife of the late Sen. (and, briefly, the 1972 Democratic vice presidential nominee) Tom Eagleton. Barbara is just tremendous. Warm, funny and an absolute delight to talk to — we of course chatted about that surreal time in 1972 when Eagleton lasted 11 days as George McGovern's running mate — she is also a great and generous friend to public radio.
The first event with Barbara was a luncheon speech that drew hundreds of political junkies. The second was a more intimate chat at her home to several dozen generous friends of KWMU. At the luncheon, I had a Missouri-related trivia question, and a toughie: Before Jim Talent (R), who was the last Missouri member of the House who was later elected to the Senate?
Lots of wrong answers — Stu Symington, Harry Truman, etc. — until one woman stood up and correctly said Thomas Hennings. That woman was former Sen. Jean Carnahan, whose daughter Robin, the Missouri secretary of state, is the Democratic nominee for the Senate this year. Jean had just heard me give a speech, part of which was an analysis why I think her daughter won't win her election this year. When I gave her a Political Junkie/TOTN t-shirt for coming up with the correct answer, she said, "Well, at least I won something."
One other fun note to mention. On Wednesday evening, KWMU had a "St. Louis Public Radio Young Friends" happy hour event at Schlafly's Tap Room. As it turns out, the owner, Tom Schlafly — a member of St. Louis Public Radio — is a relative of Phyllis Schlafly, the long-time conservative firebrand. This side of the Schlafly family, shall we say, has different politics. One wag at the pub said they were considering using the slogan, "Great Taste, Less Phyllis."
Thank you, KWMU, and thank you, St. Louis friends of public radio. You made my trip out to the Midwest quite memorable. And what you do for your community makes what we at NPR do possible.