WASHINGTON LIFE: YOUR WIKIPEDIA PAGE DESCRIBES YOU AS A “RETIRED AMERICAN PUBLIC RADIO TALK SHOW HOST?” DO YOU FEEL RETIRED?
DIANE REHM: I’ve never retired and have no intention to retire. In the past three years since I left the microphone [of WAMU’s “The Diane Rehm Show,”] I’ve written a new book, titled “When My Time Comes,” completed a film documentary of the same name, produced two podcasts per week for WAMU, and remarried, to John Hagedorn, a retired Lutheran minister who is a family therapist. I’d hardly call that “retired.”
WL: YOU ARE STILL RELATIVELY A NEWLYWED. HOW IS MARRIED LIFE?
DR: Wonderful. He travels back and forth between West Palm Beach and Washington. He jokes he “owns” Jet Blue. Our relationship is one of wonderful reunions!
WL: WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOING YOUR OWN WEEKLY PODCASTS?
DR: I remain a part of the ongoing daily operations of WAMU and its terrific group of journalists. WAMU has always been my professional home, and NPR remains a wonderful extension of that home. I continue to talk with interesting people who enlighten and educate me about what’s happening in this crazy world of ours.
WL: AS A NATIVE WASHINGTONIAN WHO HAS SEEN AND HEARD IT ALL PRESUMABLY, WHAT IS IT THAT STILL SURPRISES AND DELIGHTS YOU?
DR: I am totally surprised by the tone that has become part of the daily thrust from the White House. In all my years, I’ve never heard anything like it. What continues to delight me is the beauty of Washington, and the individual kindnesses that I see and hear expressed every single day.
WL: CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF GUEST TO INTERVIEW?
DR: One who is knowledgeable, and willing to share that knowledge. Two of my all-time favorites: President Jimmy Carter, who appeared on the “Diane Rehm Show” 11 (!) times, and Fred Rogers, my hero, who taught children—and adults— the meaning of kindness to and acceptance of others.
WL: WHY ARE YOUR NEWEST BOOK AND FILM IMPORTANT STORIES TO TELL?
DR: The issue of an individual’s right to choose medical aid in dying is such an important one. Nine states plus the District of Columbia have already voted to allow this. My hope is that the documentary [distributed byWETATV, spring 2021], and the book [published by Knopf, February 2020] will move other state legislatures to allow it as well. The film and the book contain interviews with individuals who are both for and against the issue, including members of the clergy, physicians, patients, family members and survivors of those who’ve used medical aid in dying.
WL: YOU’VE HAD AN EXTRAORDINARY CAREER. WHAT IS STILL ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
DR: I’ve never planned any part of my career. Having such a wonderful opportunity to host a national and international talk show for 37 years and then writing four books came as a total surprise to me. As I look back on my life, I know in my heart that the most important has been to raise two absolutely fabulous children and to watch them grow in their own careers and their lives as parents. 2020 and beyond? Who knows? Life is full of surprises!
WL: COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: “BEING AGE 80- SOMETHING IS…”
DR: Time to enjoy every single moment. My mother-in-law, who died at 92, once told me the 80’s were the best time of her life. I haven’t gone through them yet, but right now, I would agree.
MY TOP SPOTS
Decarlo’s (4822 Yuma St. NW) has great food and drinks. The tables are far enough apart so you can hear and they have wonderful service.
The National Gallery of Art, as well as the National Museum of African Art, and the Phillips Collection are places I take visitors. Endlessly beautiful art, terrifically educational and inspiring to all.
To feel inspired … I go to the Washington National Cathedral. There’s no place in the world like it. My favorite holiday events are the services there.
On the block outside my condo (along New Mexico Ave. NW) is the place I like to walk [my dog] Bella and then she runs in the community gardens. Bella loves it!