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Call-In Radio Show Hosted By Mr. Rogers

PUBLICATION: The News and Courier (Charleston, SC)
AUTHOR: Unknown
DATE: September 22, 1979

Call-In Radio Show Hosted By Mr. Rogers

Familiar to young audiences for over a decade, Fred Rogers, originator and host of public television's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," is now producing and hosting a unique, interactive radio call-in program for the entire family. "A child's imagination can be wonderfully rich," says Rogers. "We would like to use their own creative ideas to teach them how to solve problems in terms they can understand."

On Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m., a new program called "Neighborhood Weekend," with Mister Rogers, will air over the South Carolina Educational Radio Network. "Neighborhood Weekend" will feature as guests NPR anchor woman Susan Stamberg and internationally-famous pianist Van Cliburn. The two half-hour programs will feature many of Mister Rogers' real and make-believe characters from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," including Lady Elaine Fairchild, King Friday, Lady Aberlin and Harriet Cow, plus a new Hippopotamus family.

"The programs have been designed to provide an opportunity for live interaction -- by telephone -- between our audience and the 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' characters," says producer Keith Talbot. Each program will begin with a short neighborhood drama with a particular theme, which will set the stage for the call-in portion, during which children and their parents can call S.C. ERN at 758-2570 (those outside Columbia may call collect), have their name and number taken, and be called back to talk directly with Mister Rogers, his guests and all his "neighbors."

"We want to encourage children to fantasize," says Rogers, "and we hope their contributions will help us create a mostly improvisational program."

According to Mister Rogers, each episode has its own particular message to the family. The feelings between Elfrieda Hippopotamus and her baby brother, Hartman Hill Homer Hippopotamus, provide one of the themes of the first program. Susan Stamberg is the first featured guest; and on Sunday, special guest Van Cliburn will invite listeners to participate in a piano fantasy.

Mister Rogers is enthusiastic about the new use of radio. "We hope "Neighborhood Weekend" will show how the wonderful medium of radio can play an active role in family life," projects Rogers, "by enhancing the relationship between children and their parents."


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