The End of Weekend AmericaJANUARY 31, 2009
- Weekend America
- (Clockwise: Saito, Cooper, Oehler/Hepperman, May)
- The making of the final theme to Weekend America
- Sounds from the John Beargrease Sled Dog
- Dog Tag Reunion
- Monty's Lifesuit: Science Fiction to Fact
- A Final Skate at the Roller Rink
- World's Greatest Athlete
- Gated Into Foreclosure
- Culture Clash
- Drive, Daddy, Drive
- Recovering from the Chehalis Flood
- But I'm Not a Cheerleader
- Overnight Walk Out of the Darkness
- Faux Bono
More From John Moe
It's the final Weekend America show, so we're reflecting on all the weekends we've spent with you in the past. Weekend America host John Moe has some thoughts on the end of Weekend America and how his long involvement in the program has changed his thinking about patriotism and America.
From American Public Media, it's Weekend America. I'm John Moe. Gosh, I've enjoyed saying that.
When you reach the end of an experience, it is right to ask, "What have I learned?" And after five years of shows, fair question.
What I've learned is patriotism.
And patriotism used to make me uneasy. I remember when Reagan took office on the heels of the Iran hostage crisis and national malaise. Suddenly, patriotism was in fashion. But it was all about symbols: bald eagles, flags rippling in the wind, terrible country music. I was 11 or 12 years old at the time and I didn't buy it. That wasn't pride, it was garish iconography. Whatever America was, it wasn't an eagle with a flag behind it and Lee Greenwood singing. Call me a commie if you want.
That's been more or less my default position ever since. And then I started working on this show. First as an occasional freelance reporter. Then I was asked to do the Weekend Weather segment, and I was reading up on all these incredibly diverse things Americans did every weekend. I would generally find 20 to 25 events that were unique, funny, odd, amazing, then Bill Radke and I would narrow that list down to six of our favorites.
All these things were happening in our country this weekend, I would think to myself. In our country, we have dolphin-mating-watching boat trips in Hawaii, competitions to throw fish across state borders in Georgia, the "stand still" parade in Minnesota where the floats don't move and the people walk around them to check them out more thoroughly.
Later, I joined the show as a staff reporter and then a while back I became the host. The more I was drawn into the show, the more America, the full wide brilliant scope of it, opened up to me.
Now, right here is when I would give you an example or two of the best of Weekend America. That's impossible. There are too many.
So how about this? Go to weekendamerica.org, pick a noun. Any noun. How about "dog"? First result, a story about a dog race along Lake Superior. It's named after the son of a Chippewa chief, John Beargrease. In the story, the dogs stumble across a moose. Then here's a story about someone who has made it their personal mission to track down former soldiers after buying some old dog tags in a flea market.
How about the world "leg"? There's a guy who was paralyzed who then built himself some robot legs. Over here there's a celebration of the final skate at a roller rink in Brooklyn: rainbow leg warmers. And reporter Charlie Schroeder trying to master all legs of the decathlon.
Every one of these stories makes me love America more. But it's not just the quirky, happy, funny, noble ones. There's a Las Vegas gated community riddled with foreclosures.
A guy near Houston who doesn't want a mosque built next door, so he holds pig races.
There's Des Cooper's dad, who lived with so much racial prejudice in his life, talking about what it meant to take his family across the American South in the 1960s.
If you listen to Weekend America, you have heard triumph and disappointment. You have heard joy and sorrow and humor and fear and beauty. You've heard people.
We sit here each week and listen to all these stories. And for a couple hours each week, sample some of what America was doing on the weekend, on those days when most people don't go to work and have time to choose what they do and that defines them.
We've listened to farmers dealing with flooded dairies in Washington State and people too old to do so going to cheerleader tryouts in Florida. People walking all night in New York to remember loved ones lost to suicide. A guy in Chicago letting people believe he's Bono for reasons he didn't quite understand himself. Montanans launching dummies off snow-covered hills because that seemed like awesome fun.
This is our country. These people, these struggles, these ideas, and these stories. There is so much more to America than you could ever find on your own, and that's why you've turned to us.
Next weekend, we won't be here. America will be. Americans will be. The weekend, certainly, I hope, will be. And having listened to this show, you've learned more about your home. America. Your life is richer because of it. That is our farewell gift to you.
Our website will live on indefinitely. We won't be making new Weekend America stories, but thousands of amazing stories are still there.
Those of us you hear on this show will have new shows on the radio. You will hear our voices again. Thank you.
I'm John Moe. Bye now.