Go to Diane Rehm's Block Forum Lecture expecting a speech and you'll leave disappointed. "I'm not a speech maker," the host of Public Radio's Diane Rehm Show (10 a.m. weekdays, WFYI 90.1) says in a telephone interview. "Never have been. What I tend to do is simply say a few words about the state of public radio, my own background and try to engage the audience as much as possible.
"And I'll tell you why - I cannot stand lectures. And I hate speeches. If you've got me sitting in a church pew after about nine minutes of a sermon, I tend to turn off. I guess I feel myself to be part of the audience when I'm standing there at the podium."
Her plan is to answer a lot of questions at the talk, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, 6501 N. Meridian St.; tickets are $20 unless you've already got tickets for the entire BFL series. Call 317-926-7566 for more information.
NUVO: When I listen to you, I'm always impressed by your patience, whether it's for callers who take a long time to get to the point or the participants in the Friday roundtable discussion. How patient are you, really?
Rehm: I'm not a terribly patient person. But I'm patient on the air because I think the tone of the program should be a welcoming tone, a tone that allows people to express their thoughts, a tone that recognizes that not everyone in the world is totally well-informed or totally articulate. This is a huge country and a huge world, and people speak at different paces. I certainly speak in a very slow manner, and I think people are patient with me. Therefore, I think I reflect that thought back to them.
NUVO: Richard Norton Smith, head of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, was quoted in The New York Times today [Oct. 28] as saying, "There aren't as many wise men around Washington as there were 20 years ago." Do you think he has a point?
Rehm: I think he has a point. The administration has decided that the best way to govern is to depend on a very small group of people. And that's it. And no dissenters are welcome. Whereas you heard during the LBJ era, during Truman's era, even during Roosevelt's era people who would present conflicting points of view to the White House and have each voice heard before a decision was made. I don't think that's the case any longer. I've been doing this show since 1979, so I've watched a good many people come and go. But it's as though the decisions were made before they took office and those are the decisions they've adhered to.
Ernie Pyle's War (9 p.m. Thursday, WFYI Channel 20) wasn't available for preview, but odds are good that it's worth watching. For one, there's the subject - the Dana, Ind., native who wrote extraordinary stories from the battlefields of World War II. According to the press materials, the 30-minute documentary features rare footage, photos and interviews. For another, it's produced by Todd Gould, whose credits include For Gold and Glory, the multi-Emmy-winning documentary about the black auto-racing circuit. His work is always worthwhile.