Audience Tells of Inaugural Plans, Debate Fatherhood

Earlier in the week, wealthy businessman Earl Stafford talked to Host Michel Martin about how he's paying for some people to the presidential inauguration festivities. Hear a listener share how his family plans to commemorate the festivities. Plus, a father takes issue with the program's weekly parenting segment, prompting Tell Me More producers to take a second look.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me as always. Hey, Lee. What's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, folks have a lot on their minds this week, so we've got a lot to cover. But let's start with the conversation you had earlier this week with Earl Stafford. He's a wealthy D.C.-area businessman who talked to us about how he's helping some less fortunate Americans make it to Washington next month for Barack Obama's inauguration. Well, we asked our listeners to tell us about their own inauguration plans. Here's Mario from Baltimore.

MARIO (Caller): We definitely are excited. We have one member from each generation who will be coming from Portland, Oregon. I'll have my friends and other family members in the area invited to hear words and commentary from my grandmother about her experience in the Jim Crow south, and also commenting on her experience as it relates to Barack Obama's inauguration.

MARTIN: Thanks, Mario. Moving on. Lee, this weekend our weekly mom segment - we had a conversation about parenting that included the male perspective. Authors Brett Berk and Steve Doocy joined regular contributors Jolene Ivey and Dia Michaels to share tips from their new parenting books. Now, we were all proud of ourselves for, you know, mixing up the gender roles. This segment is usually all female, although we have had male guests before. Then we heard from Dave, who challenged us to see things from his point of view.

DAVE (Caller): I was so excited to hear that there would be an interview and discussion about the issues related to being a dad, but I was deeply offended and troubled that your moms were to be a part of the discussion, as if the men's perspectives were not strong enough to stand on their own and needed the validation of a woman in order to be considered true. Why not allow men to share their perspectives and be heard on their own with their own voice? Please give us the same respect afforded moms.

MARTIN: Thank you, Dave. And Lee, since I got that note from Dave, he and I have actually been emailing back and forth, and the conversation has sparked some ideas for the segment, and Dave also sent us a very nice posting with some other thoughts about fatherhood and his role as a man, and I would encourage you to read it. You can find it on our blog.

HILL: And finally, Michel, in your commentary this week, we all know you outed yourself as a fan of Facebook, the popular social networking Web site. Here's you sharing your newfound appreciation.

MARTIN: Can I just tell you, I am not in any way an early adapter. So imagine my surprise when I found, or rather was found by, some of my favorite people from my childhood. Kids I went to elementary and junior high school with and with whom I had long since lost touch found me on Facebook and sent me messages. I do know that I left the city, too, and didn't really look back, but I also know that I would not know what happened to any of these people if it weren't for this crazy Facebook thing.

HILL: And it's just funny to me how Facebook just might be your guilty pleasure, Michel, but never mind that.

MARTIN: Don't tell everybody my business.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HILL: Never mind that. Andrew says he's not drinking the Kool-Aid and Michel, if you want Facebook, he says you can have it.

ANDREW (Caller): I recently started using Facebook, and so far I hate it. Yes, I've been able to reconnect with some people, but in a really superficial way. I'm back in touch with someone from high school, but all I really learned about them is that they're thinking of having pizza for dinner, or they're watching CSI. Why do I want to know this stuff? Also, what's the deal with people sending me pumpkins and snowballs and turkeys, and poking me?

MARTIN: OK, thanks, Andrew - I guess. And thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Remember, with Tell Me More, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again is 202-842-3522. Remember to leave your name and, of course, you can also go to the Tell Me More page at npr.org and blog it out. And while you're online, you can also check us out on Facebook. But you know what? You don't have to send me any snowballs or turkeys, either.

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