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The End of Weekend America

John Moe

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Weekend America
(Clockwise: Saito, Cooper, Oehler/Hepperman, May)
The making of the final theme to Weekend America
(ochenk)


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.

Comments

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    By data recovery

    From WA, 06/19/2010

    Hi,
    I always listen to your show WEEKEND AMERICA. It really nice and full of information and motivation.
    I am really sad to know that this was last show of WEEKEND AMERICA.

    By Patty Cordes

    From Tempe, AZ, 02/09/2010

    Can I get more archives downloaded on my ipod than just the 12 offered on itunes?

    By Catherine Miller

    From San Diego, CA, 07/17/2009

    I miss WA so much! I loved the round-up asking what a group of random people were doing for the weekend, and a little bit of weather everywhere, and tidbits of odd festivities taking place all over the country. To lose the show is heartbreaking enough, but in this terrible economic climate to have the show replaced with one discussing international travel seems really out of touch. Now more than ever I want to hear about fellow Americans: their struggles, their simple joys, and their stories.

    By Tony Manocchio

    From Cleveland, OH, 03/14/2009

    I thought the radio was not working properly the past couple weekends. So googling Weekend America I found the unfortunate cause. American weekends will continue and so should the show! In my opinion one of the best programs ever created. Would be great if there is an avenue to reconsider. Thanks.

    By Elena Taylor-Garcia

    From Providence, RI, 02/22/2009

    I just found out. All the best to the staff at Weekend America. Please know that you made my housecleaning jobs on Saturdays bearable. I used to listen on radio headphones while working in people's homes in RI. Lots of love and prayers for all of you. I will miss you all and your show a whole lot.

    By Todd Geiman

    From Hagerstown, MD, 02/22/2009

    Weekends are no longer the same! Weekend America is what I loved about my NPR. It was a part of my routine. I really miss it! Remember "Songs for Aging Children"? I'm going to miss Weekend America just as much.

    By Tony Blasi

    From Auburn, ME, 02/11/2009

    I would listen to your show on the road after covering a high school or college game on Saturday afternoons for the newspaper I work at in Maine. Your stories were uplifting and informative. It really is a shame NPR decided to discontinue such a marvelous show. All good things shouldn't come to an end!

    By Scott Fauland

    From Tucson, AZ, 02/11/2009

    You were our weekend soundtrack, Weekend America. Good luck. We'll be listening for your voices on the airwaves and hoping you'll continue to bring us news from this land of ours with intelligence and compassion.

    By Kat Gibbons

    From West Salem, OH, 02/11/2009

    I add my voice to those who are dismayed and saddened by the loss of this wonderful show. I hope you let us all know if and when you all begin another similar show. My Saturday's will never be the same! Fie on whomever canceled this incredible piece of Americana!!

    By Bart Johnson

    From Minneapolis, MN, 02/08/2009

    This is a travesty! I can think of a lot of other shows that should have been cut before WEEKEND AMERICA. It would be nice to have an explanation as to why it was canceled. W.A. was one of the best shows on the air.

    By Jeff Isaacson

    From CA, 02/08/2009

    I have downloaded the podcast every time I don't get a chance to listen to Weekend America live. The show will be missed greatly. Too bad Obama's stimulus package can't include a section for public radio!

    By Julia Breidenthal

    From Cardiff, CA, 02/07/2009

    Please, Please, Powers that be, reconsider and bring back our Weekend America . I feel at a complete loss - it's like when the BBC cancelled Home Truths, but they had a good excuse. Can we at least have an explanation?

    By Naruphon Naknaka

    From Bangkok, Thailand, 02/07/2009

    I really enjoyed your podcast, I downloaded and listened to them while I was on the way home. I learned a lot of things from your program and it was an alternate way to practice listening too. I was shocked and sad when I heard that no more WA. Thank you so much for you, John Moe and all staffs who had bring the geart show! I'll be missing all of you.

    By theresa fayfer pavlik

    From las vegas, NV, 02/06/2009

    I'm going to feel a little lost without you guys this weekend...thanks for keeping me in touch with the vast diversity that is America...the real America...good luck and I'll be listening for you!

    By Don Eisenstein

    From Cleveland, OH, 02/06/2009

    I'm sorry you will no longer be on. I will miss the "no news, etc" feature on Saturday. I always laughed out loud at your comments. Good luck to you all.

    By Emily Butler

    From Layton, UT, 02/06/2009

    I don't really have anything new to say, but I'll add my condolences anyway: so sorry to hear you're being canceled! I'd be happy to join with everyone else to protest somehow if it would help. Best wishes to all the staff; I've loved the stories you've brought to us every week, and I think it helped boost my faith in America, too. I think the commenter who said "Don't be a stranger," said it best! God bless.

    By Darrell Hoemann

    From Champaign, IL, 02/05/2009

    I only discovered the Weekend America podcast last fall. It quickly became a regular feature of my weekend. I'll miss this eclectic mix that left me feeling connected to my country. It will be missed. Why?

    By Richena Purnell

    From VA, 02/04/2009

    I enjoyed the Weekend America podcast every week. Thank you so much for such an interesting and insightful program! Please post what programs the reporters move to.

    By Justin Gerard

    From Boston, 02/03/2009

    I can't believe no one thought of this:
    MAKE IT A PODCAST, screw APM, screw radio, THE INTERNET IS A WONDERFUL PLACE.

    By MPR "Member"

    From Minneapolis, MN, 02/03/2009

    For those who don't know, APM is the parent company of MPR. This is the last straw, being member supported means listening to your members. I will no longer be contributing to Minnesota Public Radio.

    By Karen Kolba

    From Pismo Beach, CA, 02/03/2009

    I, too, would like to know WHY WHY WHY WA is no more? I listened over XM radio the past few years; if we NPR listeners need to vote (even) MORE with our wallets - give us the chance! Bring WA back!

    By p f lyons

    From royal oak, MI, 02/02/2009

    You guys are GREAT!! I hate to see it go. But... nothing lasts forever.

    By Raven Weinberg

    From Cambridge, MA, 02/02/2009

    GAAAH!!
    I am so upset that you are gone. Yeah, we're in a financial crisis, but enough is enough. You were one of my favorites on Public Radio, and I don't know how I will do without you. Is it true that nobody has made a statement about this cancellation?
    Well, I'm sure you have heard enough of people's tears, and need to settle yourselves into the future. I would love to know what you will be doing going forward. Don't be a stranger.

    By Ben Sibiski

    From Baltimore, MD, 02/02/2009

    Normally, I'm working the Weekends. I've enjoyed listenig to Weekend America during my Lunch Hour. I experienced my weekend off, even for only as hour. It will be sorely missed!

    By Deb Triece

    From Kannapolis, NC, 02/02/2009

    I join everyone in sharing my sadness at the news of WA being discontinued. John has such a comforting voice and I needed his comments after some of the touching stories that were presented. I am still worrying about John and his family moving to Minnesota and now this gig is ending. Whatever will happen?Thanks for many wonderful stories and may the future hold many new and exciting advertures for the staff and particularly John and Des. You will be sorely missed.

    By Susan Akers

    From Pendleton, IN, 02/02/2009

    We don't know why it was cancelled...it's like losing a friend. This was one of my favorite things about my weekend. I am saddened and hope John, Michael & others will have other outlets for their talent and creativity. We will miss you.

    By Julia Ward

    From Ann Arbor, MI, 02/02/2009

    My Saturday afternoons will no longer be the same. First, the station that carried Weekend America in my area (WUOM) cut it down to one hour, then American Public Media cancelled it outright. It just isn't fair.

    By greta glenellen

    From youngstown, OH, 02/01/2009

    Wish there was something that could change this sad situation!!!! Willing to hear some suggestions. I support my npr station (WYSU 88.5)!!!!

    By louanne lasdon

    From OH, 02/01/2009

    I didn't know WA was being cancelled.... and am PROTESTING!...It has been a wonderful week-end respite and I will sorely miss the programming that was so well presented...

    By Susan Sanford

    From Chicago, IL, 02/01/2009

    No weekend without Weekend America is not a weekend. This was the best program, ranking right up there with This American Life. Why oh why? John Moe, like Ira Glass became a "radio buddy" and made the Saturday chores and numerous errands fly by. At first, I wanted to blame WBEZ here in Chicago, but is appears it was not their decision. So whose decision was this. Good luck, John Moe - I loved the tale of your road trip to Minnesota with Fuzzy! Now what?

    By Henry Lee

    From Cleveland, OH, 02/01/2009

    I am so fortunate to have had the chance to listen to your eclectic mix of insightful, humourous and inspiring commentary on American life. Your show is the highlight of my week. As we consider the road before us in these uncertain times, I will miss the hopefulness, steadfastness and comfort your team has brought listeners like me over the years. Good luck!

    By Cariño Casas

    From Maple Grove, MN, 02/01/2009

    I hadn't listened in a while, because I haven't been driving much lately. I was very sad to find I was tuning into the last episode. I always felt the mixture of serious contemplation with lighter fair was just right.

    Thank you for a great show. Godspeed.

    By January O'Neil

    From Beverly, MA, 02/01/2009

    This is definitely Bad News. I've enjoying downloading the podcast and listening on my two-hour commute every week.

    I most appreciated the poetry segments you produced, as well as my favorite segment: Good News/Bad News/No News.

    Here's hoping the show returns one day. Best of luck!

    By Torsten Griese

    From Germany, 02/01/2009

    I can’t believe it! No more WA during my weekend runs. Who is responsible? Why did they do this? Don’t they know, what gem it is? WA is the best radio show I have ever heard, a wonderful mixture of information, entertainment and, not least, humour. I listened to it for the last years on my MP3. And as a German, it gave me a new perspective about the US and especially about their citizens. You have such an amazing cultural diversity that could be a reservoir for thousands of stories. Stories that we need to understand other people even if they are on the other side of the world. Thanks to the numerous, who do not avoid to share their deepest feelings and emotions with us, the anonymous audience. You often touched my heart deeply, I admit it as 47 year old man far away from immoderate sentimentalism. To John, Des, Bill and all the staff: THANK YOU SO MUCH! You made a great job. I hope we will meet again.

    By Kathy Benavides

    From Monroe, WA, 01/31/2009

    Thank you all for your talent and effort in bringing such a magical/memorable program to us all. What a pleasure/honor it has been to listen in on such diverse, uplifting, insightful, emotional and even comical goings-on throughout our nation. The WA producers, writers and personalities surely engaged us and successfully achieved an amazing balance throughtout the years...BRAVO and BEST OF LUCK!! You will sorely be missed!!!

    By Dorothy Loutry

    From Lynnwood, WA, 01/31/2009

    Isn't anybody else upset about this loss? I would like to register my opinion about the precipitate removal of this wonderful program. Has anybody EVER explained why it was removed? I enjoyed it so much and will miss it, and I want a way to PROTEST! Please tell me how best to do this.

    By Michael Klingensmith

    From Nevada City, CA, 01/31/2009

    Listening to WA each week was like hanging out with some smart, cool, funny buddy for a couple of hours. This stinks indeed.

    By Madeleine Eaton

    From Duarte, CA, 01/31/2009

    Smaller girl scout cookies, no mail on Tuesdays: no news. No more Weekend America: BAD News!!!

    By Lorna Ross

    From San Diego, CA, 01/31/2009

    I can only add to all the other comments, and echo what everyone of them has said: WHY??????? why not get rid of mindless, idiotic, time-wasting, brainless, pointless, stupid, dumb, irrelevant, uninteresting tv programs. oh nooo, why do that when you can get rid, instead, of Weekend America? so much for the relentless decline of american culture. So please tell me what else i can do, i have financially supported this program, what else can i do?

    By Keta Hodgson

    From West Hollywood, CA, 01/31/2009

    I had no idea how much you mean to me until just now when I heard you have been cancelled. I'm crying as I type this. All of you at WA can move on knowing that you created an outstanding program that brought hours of pleasure to many, many people. I wish you all the best of luck.

    By sonja jo krenz-bush

    From ellensburg, WA, 01/31/2009

    The cancellation of Weekend America is such a huge loss. It was the most interactive of public radio programs. Even if I wasn't calling in or uploading pictures to flickr, I felt I was part of a community - the community of our nation.

    No other program exposes you to our many different citizens and makes you feel a connection to them like Weekend America.

    By John Andrew Kaputa

    From Bremerton, WA, 01/31/2009

    So long John it's been good to know all you guys and gals. I was sad when Bill pulled out, but you were there to hold the program together; and now the Powers-that-be have pulled the plug and you all are gone. What am I going to do with my early Saturday afternoons? Anyway I wish you all the best and hope to again hear your voices over the air/online soon.

    By Bob Howell

    From Southern Pines, NC, 01/31/2009

    I can't contribute much new to what has already been said, but I'll add my regrets that this show is leaving the air. It has certainly been a focal point of our weekends for the past few years, and -- while John tried to reassure us a that there will be other shows -- it will be difficult to achieve a similar combination of news, analysis, human interest, entertainment, intelligence, wit, and good will. Without naming names, I'm not very excited about what our local NPR affiliate is proposing to broadcast in the former WA time slot, but we'll try to be brave. Best wishes to you all –-

    By Beth J

    From Royal Oak, MI, 01/31/2009

    Why weren't we asked to assist in keeping this great program on NPR? Hearing about everyday people and their experiences has brought tears and many smiles on my errand Saturday's after stressful weeks at work and school. The perspective you offered brought me closer to humanity and to life itself. Thank you John for connecting with all of us and many exciting journey's to you. My hope is that we will hear from you once again.

    By Abe Wu

    From Tucson, AZ, 01/31/2009

    This is a sad day for radio. Thank you to John Moe and all those who put this show on the air over the years. Like "This American Life", Weekend America has is a unique voice I could listen to while running around on the weekends. I especially liked the "Weekend Soundtrack" segments. You'll be sorely missed! Hope to hear you again soon.

    By Jurgen von Kiel

    From Mustang, OK, 01/31/2009

    We don't "get it" why was this show canceled? Did a major sponsor pull the plug? WA had some awesome stories & wasn't rife with NPR's typical left wing moon bat spin. Great job WA staff ! Best Wishes

    By Dallas T

    From Citus Heights, CA, 01/31/2009

    This sucks! I love this show and listen to it every Saturday morning while i am doing chores and driving around doing stuff Saturday morning.
    I love the stories and I will truly miss it.
    How will they fill this spot?
    I hope your voices come back on another NPR show.

    By M K

    From St. Louis, MO, 01/31/2009

    I've been podcasting WA since before you were aired on my local NPR station.

    Thank you for being a part of my weekend for so long. I can't think of one story I've ever turned off; they've all been interesting.

    Besides the stories I've loved all the hosts, the points of view, the weather - events reports, and so much more.

    I hope the show will come back someday. Thank you and to the underwriters for the great show.

    By Renee Twersky

    From Hillsborough, NC, 01/31/2009

    I just heard the news -- I am so sad to see this show end. You've all done a tremendous job and will be missed.

    By Cara LaLumia

    From Kalamazoo, MI, 01/31/2009

    What? Why?!? This show has helped define my weekend for years. What a loss, I will really miss hearing all the different voices and perspectives (and weather).

    By Alan Feigenbaum

    From Chapel Hill, NC, 01/31/2009

    This cancellation points out a major flaw in the public-radio financing model. We get pitched like crazy to contribute to individual public-radio stations, but not to NPR, America Public Media, etc. -- so that we can support shows that get carried by stations, as well as the stations themselves. I'm sure we could go to the NPR, APM, etc. web sites and make contributions there, but that sort of individual effort without a national drive won't make a difference. Instead of NPR telling us that it was facing these cuts and asking if we want to do something to prevent them, it just made them. I personally can do without Day to Day, but WA always has a few pearls in addition to some schlocky stuff, so it was well worth saving. Maybe XM/Sirius will have the wisdom to tap into this and possibly resurrect it. After all, as John says in his closing note, this is about all aspects of America, and with all the people still traveling in their cars every weekend (e.g., to all these crazy events you discover), there's a ready audience that doesn't necessarily want to hear a sporting event or some canned comedy performance. Finally, John, you mentioned a book you were writing (I'm a writer, BTW), and I tried to find it by searching "John Moe" -- but no luck. Please post the info.

    By marie glenn

    From westwood, MA, 01/31/2009

    This is such a loss. Where else can we get stories from the vantage point that you offer. Instead of coming into an issue front and center like most do, you come in from the side offering a distinct, sometimes touching, often humorous perspective on topics that touch us all. Where else can we hear stories about the last two guys picked for the NFL draft, for instance? Your stories reveal so much of our common humanity. I love NPR, but I question their judgment in canceling this program.

    By Julie L

    From Raleigh, NC, 01/31/2009

    I'm so so so sad. This show has been my "me time" on the weekends while working around the house. I've sewn baby clothes, painted my fence, painted doors, done recycling, you name it all while listening to your amazing show. You made me laugh, cry the whole bit. I've sent links of your show to friends urging them to listen, and now ... your gone. Gone, but not forgotten. I hope you all have secured new jobs and that your families are well. And... hope you come back one day.

    By Theresa Albo

    From Seattle, WA, 01/31/2009

    It's a sad day. Hurry back John!

    By Lynda Jane

    From Vancouver, BC, 01/31/2009

    As an avid listener from Vancouver, B.C., I am shocked and saddened to hear that I will no longer hear John and the voices of Weekend America each Saturday afternoon. I have travelled 48 states and thought that your program truly captured the culture and essence of America. Saturday afternoons just won't be the same. John and the voices and writers of Weekend America - thanks for the ride and hope to hear voices again very soon.

    By Sarah Melde

    From St Charles, MN, 01/31/2009

    I've been running with Weekend America on my iPod for over 2 years. I was running today wondering what will replace Weekend America. I am not sure anything can.
    Thank you so much for all the great stories and experiences of America.
    Good luck to all of you. Come back again-soon.

    By jerry stremovihtg

    From daytona beach, FL, 01/31/2009

    Why? I Guess It Was On Another Show. Too Bad, It Will Be Missed Severely. Love You Guys.

    By Aaron Rowe

    From Orlando, FL, 01/31/2009

    Weekend America, I discovered you on a Saturday in 2006, when I embarked on a mission to clean out our garage. I was immediately hooked. The next few Saturdays, I made sure my garage work coincided with your show -- it made the time go so quickly, and allowed my mind to wander with you as I cleaned. And, of course, I loved hearing "WMFE Orlando" each week -- it made the program feel that much more personal. I spent all of 2007 and half of 2008 in grad school with classes on Saturdays, and as I looked forward to the end of the program and getting my Saturdays back, the thing I looked forward to the most was listening to Weekend America as I did things around the house, or drove around running errands. You've become such an important part of how I loved to spend my "me time", as is true with so many others. Thank you so very much for all the wonderful journeys and stories you've provided. May the wind be at your back as you all move on to whatever is next for you. You will be missed.

    By Warren Smith

    01/31/2009

    I, too, wonder WHY the show has been cancelled. If you've said so, I missed it. Could you make the explanation plain on the web-site?

    By Kara Oehler

    From Somerville, MA, 01/31/2009

    And Harley Hansen, you were a part of that glorious ride! http://tinyurl.com/harleymemory

    Thanks so much for telling your story!

    By Mark Schaeffer

    01/31/2009

    Did I miss something? Apart from What Did We Learn, the next question needing to be asked is, "WHY has the show come to an end. " Whatever the answer, I have enjoyed the program immensely. There is a sonority and cadence to your voice. It is measured and nearly effortless. I try to pay attention to my own voice in the classroom and think about how it is received by my students. Your voice is enjoyable to listen to. I sure hope we will hear it in the future.

    By Jim Russell

    From Chapel Hill, NC, 01/31/2009

    Goodbye, John and talented, dedicated Weekend America staff. I believed in the program, but more than that -- I still DO believe in YOU. You will rise to play for us again -- to inspire, provoke and entertain us. So, this farewell is only for now. I know I will hear you again. Jim

    By Debby Kwong

    From Shorewood, WI, 01/30/2009

    I was dismayed when I read that this show is ending. After a busy week I looked forward to waking up early on Saturday mornings and lying in bed, not bolting for the shower, and listening to your show. I loved each and every show always learning something. You will be sorely missed but look forward to your next endeavor. Good Luck!

    By Harley Hansen

    From Sacramento, CA, 01/30/2009

    It has been a terrific ride. Is this a great country, or what?

    By Burgess Byrd

    From cincinnati, OH, 01/30/2009

    I am deeply saddened when I heard this was the last week for Weekend America. It was the one show I looked forward to listening if not live on my podcast. Listening to everyday people sharing their stories,highlighting parts of the country that I had heard of but never knew such richness of cultures existed in such places,new music... I could go on and on how much it touched my life. You will be missed by an avid fan in Ohio. Good luck on future endeavors!

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