As part of its annual “The Lives They Lived” issue, a collection of obituaries for people who passed away during the previous year, the New York Times Magazine drew on an interview with author and illustrator Maurice Sendak that aired on NPR’s Fresh Air in September 2011. In a video on the Times’s website, illustrations by Christoph Niemann accompany a touching clip from the interview, in which Sendak talked with Terry Gross about his athiesm, death, and getting older. “There’s something I’m finding out as I’m aging: I am in love with the world,” Sendak said. He also told Gross that of all the interviewers he knew, only she brought out such reflections in him. Sendak died May 8, 2012.
There’s one more voice that’s off the air of Mississippi Public Broadcasting following the state network’s cancellation of Fresh Air. Carl Gibson, whose first job out of journalism school was covering the state capitol for MPB, was fired on Friday for leaking an internal memo about the state network’s decision to drop the NPR-distributed show. Gibson was just returning from an assignment covering the Gulf Coast oil spill, he said, when controversy over MPB’s cancellation erupted over the blogosphere on July 15. Friends at the Jackson Free Press, the state’s only alternative newspaper, approached Gibson as a source, and he wanted to help them get the story straight, he told Current. The Free Press’s July 16 story points to the discrepancy between MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis’s official statement describing the “careful consideration and review” given to the decision to drop Fresh Air and the email that Gibson leaked, which was written by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell shortly after the axe came down.
Why did Mississippi Public Broadcasting drop Fresh Air from its radio schedule? The blog “A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South” set off a blogosphere chain reaction yesterday by speculating that the “recurring inappropriate content” cited by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell must be the show’s willingness to treat homosexuals as normal people, not the “evil incarnate bent on destroying the American dream, baseball and apple pie, too.” MPB Executive Director Dr. Judith Lewis didn’t get into the details in a statement issued late yesterday, after Gawker and the Huffington Post had picked up on the story. “Too often Fresh Air’s interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues,” she said.