Episode #372: Remembering Neal Conan

The withdrawal from Afghanistan is not going as well as some hoped.  But did anyone ever think that extracting U.S. troops from a 20-year war was going to be easy?  And let the blame game begin.

This week’s show is mostly a personal essay about my relationship with Neal Conan, the longtime NPR broadcaster who died of cancer earlier this month.  In addition to being a good friend, he is probably more responsible for the success of the Political Junkie program than anyone else, as he included a Political Junkie segment on Talk of the Nation every week for seven years.

Music in this week’s episode

A Mistake by Fiona Apple

I Wanna Grow Up to Be a Politician by The Byrds

11 thoughts on “Episode #372: Remembering Neal Conan”

  1. Ken, I remember lots of shows where you and Neal made me cry. The puns, the off-the-cuff yuma, the obvious love and camaraderie between the two of you, and the intelligence made for the best program on public radio.

    This episode put a knot in my throat, and welled me up.

    We’re all sorry for your (our) loss of a good friend, and an unparalleled journalist.

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  2. Lovely remembrance Ken. I listened to you and Neal many years, would look forward to those segments, really loved you both, have appreciated great talk radio since my childhood. The mix of wisdom, wit and humor was such a pleasure, you are a pleasure for continuing the tradition. Sincere thanks for your excellent work. Share your sadness at Neal passing.

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  3. Neal Conan was a master interviewer. Maybe it was his love of baseball that made it seem more like he was calling balls and strikes rather than pushing an agenda. But when somebody fouled, he had no problem calling them out in a matter of fact manner and often with a generous and gentlemanly respect (other times, with burning wit).

    Having you two working in tandem made for the best political coverage in America. And it was fun. Nowadays we have a lot of political satire (probably too much and too serious). TOTN was the only show that managed to broach serious topics with just urgency, but not with outrage. You brought awareness without condescension. You had a respect for the intelligence of your listeners. I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you.

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  4. I’m so glad I’m a subscriber and received the email to let me know about this particular episode as I would not have missed it for anything. It did my heart good to hear his voice again, to hear the TOTN theme music, to reminisce a bit. It took my breath away the day I heard Neil had passed. I look back on the countless episodes I enjoyed over the years and how much I appreciated his intelligence and approach. I remember one time, nearing the end of the shows run, he was taking callers and someone got through with a way-off-base conspiracy something or another and Neil shut them down so perfectly, it made me immediately think “I wish I could do that!” almost in the way a kid would say that of someone he saw fly through the air. Thanks for this episode, Ken. It means a great deal to me. Take good care of yourself. I’ll keep listening, as always, every chance I get.

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  5. That was a wonderful, personal, and eloquent tribute to a person we al will miss greatly. I am so glad you played the excerpts from the old Wednesday shows – they were the highlight of my week in those days. The banter and erudition you both displayed was remarkable.
    And of course, one is not gone so long as others still talk about him – so keep mentioning him from time to time.
    Thanks again for all the great shows.

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  6. What a lovely, tribute. I’m still unnerved by NPR’s cancellation of the popular “Talk of the Nation.” I missed Neal Conan, you for a time, and the comments of those you called in. Since then, I have become a progressive news junkie. The need to find non-corporate funded news not influenced by Big Money was perhaps the only personally positive outcome of the sudden loss of this NPR gems. Thanks for having Neal Conan on your show. I always enjoyed hearing his voice. So sorry for your loss–our loss.

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