October 10, 2010
It is not often you talk with people who are internationally known television journalists, and it is not often that person is from Wichita.
Such was the case with PBS’s Jim Lehrer, a Wichita native who has a soft spot in his heart for our community. He was in Wichita to help KPTS – TV, the local PBS affiliate celebrate their 40th Anniversary. Last Saturday at the Hyatt, was “An Evening with Jim Lehrer”, with proceeds going to KPTS.
Earlier, I talked with him for 45 minutes in a wide-ranging interview about his early life in Wichita, the state of television news, why he stays in Wichita so much, and how his military life has affected his role in journalism.
Jim Lehrer is one of the true ‘gentlemen’ of the broadcast industry. Soft-spoken and good-natured, you would never know that this is the man who has moderated 11 presidential debates, helped set the standard for quality in-depth journalism on PBS, and is a prolific writer of fiction and prose.
His biography is stunning. In 1976, he joined The ‘Robert MacNeil Report’ and it became the ‘MacNeil/Lehrer Report ‘winning more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence. In 1996 MacNeil left the broadcast and it became ‘The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer’. In 2009 it was changed to the ‘PBS NEWSHOUR to reflect the programs’ expanded roles as the hub of news and public affairs programming on PBS both online and on-air.
That biography continues with paragraph after paragraph of accomplishments for the man from Wichita.
His interview was fascinating, as the man I’ve watched from afar for so long, became a real human being on the same plain with the rest of us.
He is simply a ‘nice guy’ and it was my honor to spend some time with him.