In the summer of 1979, I was blessed to be one of a handful of broadcast journalism students to be selected for a highly coveted news internship at WJR Radio in my hometown of Detroit. The internship was considered a real coup in those days, because the news department not only paid their interns, which was and still is a rarity in the news business, but they also believed in actually giving interns experience (as opposed to some outlets, which had the tendency to see summer interns as good for little more than running errands and fetching coffee).
One of my responsibilities was to bring the guest for the station’s midday talk show into the waiting room or green room and prep them for their interviews. I’ll admit I was a bit starry-eyed given the opportunity to meet many celebrities and newsmakers. But I also learned a great deal. This particular program had a small studio audience, and I was permitted to be in the studio during the live broadcast.
Back in my college days, I was a nominal Christian. I still identified as a Catholic, but by the end of my freshman year, I had stopped going to weekly Mass. Despite my lukewarm approach to faith, I had enough understanding to realize that Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an important figure on the world stage. She was someone who was making major headlines by making a difference not only in serving the poorest of the poor in India but by bringing attention to many other serious issues.
That same year, 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. So imagine my surprise and delight to learn that I would be escorting Mother Teresa to the green room, visiting briefly with her and sitting in on her interview.
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