Iranian-Americans Speak Out

Over the past couple of days, "AirTalk" listeners in our local Persian communities have made great contributions to the program. Hearing the accounts of those who've been in contact with family and friends in Iran significantly widens the coverage beyond news reports from Tehran. I was riveted as callers spoke of what they were hearing about protests in other Iranian cities and how some of their family members were comparing it in intensity to the Iranian revolution.

All of us are, of course, interested in Iran's future. But it's even more powerful to hear from our callers for whom this is very personal and familial. To our Iranian-American listeners -- thank you for calling in and commenting online about what you've heard from loved ones close to the demonstrations.

This is another testament to the remarkable mix of people and backgrounds here in Southern California. The world seems so much smaller here, as people with connections elsewhere have made their home in the Southland.


Laker Pride -- Shame of the Vandals

As a 40-year fan of the Lakers, I'm celebrating our city's NBA championship. As a lifelong Angeleno, I'm embarrased and ashamed of the violent and destructive behavior on some on our local streets last night. It was exhilarating to see the outstanding defense the Lakers played in their last game, defending the lane and covering each others' backs. What a quick comedown to scenes of "celebrants" rocking cars, destroying a bus, lighting fires, and injuring police officers. The two areas of greatest trouble were East L. A.'s iconic Whittier Boulevard and near Staples Center.

When I think of Whittier Boulevard I think of the great music and car culture that melded the Mexican and American experiences. I think of my wife Kristen's parents, meeting at Garfield High School, and swapping neighborhood stories with their childhood friends. I think of all the businesses up and down that street representing family investment in the Eastside. I think of an East L. A. that is as true to the spirit of Los Angeles as any neighborhood could possibly be.


The Thrill Of Fast-Breaking News

As a follower of important breaking news, there are few things more exciting to me than having stories unfold as we're on the air and being able to provide details on them immediately. This morning was a prime example, as we had the U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea, Congress' final passage of FDA regulation of tobacco, and the Iranian Presidential elections happening within the same hour. Our "AirTalk" producers did an amazing job of lining up first-rate guests just as the events were unfolding. Though you can't see what happens behind the scenes of our program, I know you would be very impressed by our producers' ability to put segments together so promptly. They are extraordinarily dedicated to our listeners and able to work under tremendous deadline pressure.

This is the final day of our fiscal year-end member drive. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to reach every challenge and goal for "AirTalk" this week. You have my deepest thanks and appreciation. You are part of the finest and most dedicated audience in radio. Though I'm biased, I can cite example after example of that devotion and care. I appreciate you more than I can fully express in words. Have a wonderful weekend.


Elections Still Inspire

I was struck this morning by how surprised our guests, and other Iran experts, have been by the passion over Iran's Presidential election. In this age of hyper-analysis of every international political trend, it's refreshing that observers can be caught off guard. In hindsight, we can see all the factors that have led to what's essentially a referendum on President Ahmadinejad. It's good to know that human behavior isn't completely predictable.

Thanks to the support of generous "AirTalk" listeners we had another stellar, though nail biting, morning of fundraising. I appreciate all our members, including those who've offered the large challenges that have encouraged so many listeners to give. Though this is an extremely tough economy, KPCC listeners are coming up big during this short fiscal year-end drive. Thanks!


The Queen of Soul Propels Power Block

I have a short list of people that I've been wanting to interview since starting "AirTalk" 24 years ago, but who have never been available. Aretha Franklin was on that list. Her live appearance with me this morning was the capper to an exciting Power Block half-day of fundraising. I knew there was a possibility that she would be calling in to talk with us, but it wasn't confirmed until we were well into this morning's program.

What was particularly nice about Ms. Franklin's visit was her clear enthusiasm for performing. Though she's been recording and giving concerts for decades, she sounded truly excited about her upcoming date at the Hollywood Bowl. I also appreciated her candor about how changing her diet has helped her vocal chords and led to her having a better singing range than in years past.