Hatteberg's People - Jim Lehrer

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October 10, 2010

On Hatteberg's People, this series usually isn't about people who are famous or internationally known. This is an exception. A man from Wichita, who has been on the world stage for years, yet left his heart in the air capitol. Jim Lehrer, Anchor and Executive Editor of the PBS News Hour is a man who talks with presidents and kings like we talk to the neighbor next door. He's in Wichita often, but you'd never know it. He comes in quietly, no fanfare, simply to be quiet and to write.

"I think and I write, and I go have a drink, and I stay up all night if I need to write and I don't shave, and I don't wear a coat and tie. I'm a little boy. I can do anything that I want."

"Good evening from Washington, I'm Jim Lehrer."

That 'little boy' from Wichita has done well. As the well-known public face of the PBS News Hour and author of 20 novels, three plays and two memoirs. He plays on the world stage of news, nightly bringing us the facts, without hype. But it is Wichita where he comes to be quiet.

"I'm convinced, I told my wife this, and she understands because she is a writer too. But I have ideas in Wichita that I swear that I wouldn't have if I were somewhere else, if I was sitting on some mountain top or on some beach somewhere, it just makes it.....it's a special thing for me. Every time I have an opportunity to come to Wichita I take it. And when I come here I see a Wichita of today. But I also see a Wichita of the 1940's. Those are the real memories of the 1940's and I am literally a little boy again."

He was in Wichita over the weekend to help KPTS celebrate their 40th anniversary; those who meet him find an ordinary guy who has an extraordinary life.

"I'm Jim Lehrer of the News Hour on PBS and I welcome you to the first of the 2008 Presidential Debates."

In the last six presidential elections, he's done an unprecedented eleven presidential debates.

(Larry) "What is going through your mind as the clock is ticking the seconds down and you are about to go 'live' to the nation on a presidential debate? How much pressure is there on you?"

(Jim Lehrer) "It's enormous! It is beyond description. It is like holding live dynamite in your hand. You have to say to yourself, if you are inclined this way, this is not about ME! If they are talking about me when this debate is over, even if they are saying good things about me.....'Hey Jim great job! - Great Questions.' Then I've screwed up. Nobody should be talking about the moderator when the debate is over, they should be talking about what the candidates said."

"Thanks to our senators both, I'm Jim Lehrer and thank you and good night."

No matter how powerful the people around him, Jim Lehrer is still just a hometown boy whose father ran a small Wichita Bus Company, and whose Wichita experience touched him forever.

"I lived in Wichita for 12 of my 76 years and look at the effect it has had on me. I'm not suggesting that anything about me is special. It's just that it has been very real."

Click to watch an exclusive interview with Jim Lehrer

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