Interview with Diane Rehm – On My Mind

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Podster Magazine.

An NPR icon for nearly four decades, Diane Rehm is back with a new podcast, leading intelligent, insightful discussions of the issues of the day.

PODSTER: After 37 years of hosting The Diane Rehm Show on NPR, you aired your last show in December and with barely a break launched the weekly Diane Rehm: On My Mind podcast in January. You’ve had an extraordinarily acclaimed career already— what do you want to achieve with the podcast and how will the podcast differ from the radio show? 

DIANE REHM: First, because I wanted greater freedom from the constraints of a daily two-hour program. Second, because I wanted to try something new. So many people are using podcasts as a primary form of listening these days, so I decided it was time to find out all about the approach and why it is so appealing to so many. I confess I am a total amateur but hope to bring my interviewing skills to the table. I shall also be freer to insert my own opinions more clearly into the podcast. 

PODSTER: I’m a voracious consumer of news and have never seen the balanced, respectful, thoughtful discussions of various topics anywhere other than on The Diane Rehm Show or now on the Diane Rehm: On My Mind podcast. In your podcast on The Women’s March on Washington, for instance, you brought in a variety of voices that caused me to open up my thinking about some of the issues discussed (I marched in Austin). How do you achieve this kind of discourse? 

DIANE: I’m so glad you felt that way as you listened. Let’s face it: There are so many views and so many subtleties of thought out there. If we open our ears and listen a bit more closely rather than trying to get our own voices out there I think we’d have a better chance of truly understanding views other than our own. You ask how? Bring together multiple voices, encourage them to engage with one another, interject when you believe you can add something, and then listen. 

PODSTER: You mentioned in your second episode that you would be devoting an upcoming episode to right-to-die issues, which I know are close to your heart and mind after your husband’s death in 2014. What message do you want to spread about the right to die, and what changes in both laws and attitudes are you hoping to see? 

DIANE: Here is my message, and you will hear it at the end of this week’s podcast when we do take up the right to die with dignity: If you believe that God should be the only decision-maker as to when you die, I support you 1000%. If you feel you want to have every possible treatment that modern medicine can offer to extend your life, I support you 1000%. And if you believe you should have the right to end your life with dignity, with the aid of a physician, I support you 1000%. In other words, I believe in choice, both at the beginning as well as at the end of life. And each of us as individuals should be allowed that freedom of choice. I do not condemn anyone who wants a different choice from my own. But I want my own choice. 

PODSTER: What other topics are you interested in covering in the podcast? 

DIANE: Anything and everything. That’s the beauty of a podcast. We’ll cover politics, science, art, and medicine, and we have the freedom to change course at the last moment and the freedom to make each podcast as long or short as the subject itself warrants. 

PODSTER: Now that you’re doing one show a week (instead of eight or so), what do you have time to do that you didn’t previously? 

DIANE: Actually, it was ten hours a week on the air. So what do I have time to do now? First, I can sleep until 7:00 a.m. instead of rising at 5:00 a.m. weekdays, as I did for more than 37 years. That’s a big deal for me, because if I went out in the evening and didn’t get to bed until 11:00 p.m. or so, I really was tired. Second, not only am I at work on the podcast but am also working with the development office at WAMU helping with fundraising. I’m also traveling more freely to visit good friends and to speak on my book, On My Own, which has just been published in paperback. So, all in all, the simple answer is freedom, for which I am very grateful. 

PODSTER: If you have a handful of podcasts that you listen to regularly and would like to recommend, please do so. 

DIANE: This part will make you laugh. Until I began this project, I had never in my life listened to a podcast! It’s all new! My listening is basically on radio, not on my iPhone (except when I’m out of town and streaming WAMU on my iPhone). So sadly, I cannot recommend any at this point. Maybe a year from now I’ll be able to answer that question.

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Podster Magazine.

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