NPR logo The Story Behind 'A Year to Live, A Year to Die'

The Story Behind 'A Year to Live, A Year to Die'

The audio diary of Stewart Selman's last year of life almost didn't make it to the air. For three years, producer Mary Beth Kirchner had been tracking the family as they dealt with Selman's brain tumor and death. Then just two months ago, his wife, Rebecca Peterson told Kirchner that she didn't want the story broadcast.

"I think Rebecca wasn't sure what the response would be from the countless people listening to what she had to say. Personally, I find the level of honesty nothing but endearing but she was fearful that people would think she was a bad wife, a heartless person with some of the comments she had made. I said this is your life, this is not a radio story. If you think we shouldn't put this on the air I appreciate and respect that."

Kirchner encouraged Rebecca to show the script of the radio piece to friends and they helped convince her that her story could help other families who were suffering through the same thing. Read more of my interview with producer Mary Beth Kirchner.

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