15 August 2011

From Thug to Power Broker

You know you’re getting older when you have the NPR news theme song memorized.

I, like my siblings, have returned to our roots of National Public Radio. I imagine this migration from “normal” radio broadcasting is like making your mom’s meatloaf recipe for dinner. In my mom’s case it would be Portuguese Stew, but the idea’s the same – comfort food. NPR is comfort radio. It brings back great childhood memories of riding in Mr. Jingles (our blue Toyota pick-up) with my dad to early morning jazz band practice or seminary. Or sitting idle on a Saturday morning waiting for Car Talk with Click and Clack to be over before going to the Coast Guard galley for breakfast.

When I knew that my commute to work from Lebanon to Corvallis was going to take about 25 minutes, I decided I wanted to use my time wisely. I didn’t want to listen to music and commercials, or rotate my six CD changer for the umpteenth thousand time. I considered books on tape, but Scott and I tried that once on our trip to Colorado and that failed miserably!

That’s when I rediscovered NPR, specifically OPB, Oregon Public Broadcasting. I leave it on almost permanently in my car now. I leave Lebanon in the early morning and listen to the local and national news updates, a fascinating segment maybe about Mensa or Oregon’s food desert, and comedic chimes from Steve Inskeep. I roll into work about the time I hear “Its 8:01… The news is next.” Not only does their programming schedule make me feel energized and enlightened, but I often find myself waiting in the car for the last 40 seconds of airtime to finish out a story.

One night I was enthralled by the most interesting story that I had interrupted in the middle (the title of this post). In the series, State of the Re:Union, a former drug addict was being interview for his grass roots development efforts in Miami. After going to prison three times for drug trafficking, he decided to take his “business skills“in a direction that would keep him out. He started working in a small grocery store owned by his mother/sister and in less than a year took the store to new levels of production. His neighbors started asking for advice and he began informal best practice forums on Sundays for community merchants. Leroy Jones is now the creator and Executive Director of NANA, a non-profit organization to improve economic development of Miami. You can download the full story, here.

Isn’t that inspiring?

To say the least, I’m pretty pleased with how I spend my commuting hours… even if it does mean I’m getting older.