Every once in awhile, magic happens

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The thing about working for the media is, you sometimes take all the “glitz” that goes with it for granted: tight security, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, or gaining access when other people can’t.

But when you change places, you tend to notice these things. Or at least I did, when I entered the parking lot at the Sirius XM offices in Washington, D.C. recently. Even more so, as a security guard accompanied me into the building and I signed in, waiting to be escorted to my interview with renowned broadcast journalist Bob Edwards.

I did get my photo, in April 2011! (Bob Edwards and Daleen Berry at Sirius XM Radio in Washington, D.C.)

I didn’t interview Bob, though—he interviewed me. What an experience! It began when I offered to send a copy of my book, Sister of Silence, to him. He graciously accepted and a month or so later, I found an email waiting for me: it was from one of his producers, a lovely young woman by the name of Ariana Pekary. She said they wanted to arrange an interview, and did I have a radio station nearby? That week was full, but they had time the following week.

Turns out, by mere coincidence, I had already planned a trip to D.C., to visit my son. He had been urging me to sign up for a speakeasy event for months, but I’d been dragging my feet. Finally I had done it, and we arranged for my visit. The timing couldn’t have been better.

So I picked up my rental car (My own 1997 auto had been acting up, so I didn’t want to chance a breakdown on a D.C. beltway.) and excitedly headed east. The speakeasy would be fun, I thought, but the main reason for my trip was my son: I hadn’t seen him for a year, and he had been on my mind for several months. Bob was a bonus.

That’s how I came to be inside the Sirius XM building one cool February morning, where I found myself sitting across from one of the most well-respected journalists ever. Mr. Edwards, for those of you who haven’t been on this planet very long, has not only been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, but he’s garnered the prestigious awards to match, and interviewed anyone who’s anybody. When he was with National Public Radio (NPR), as the “Morning Edition” host, more than 13 MILLION listeners loved listening to his voice, which is smooth and rich, like a fine cognac. I was one of them.

So it’s really not necessary to say I was nervous. As an interviewer, I know what’s involved in sitting in his chair. You prepare your questions, and then you ask them. Sometimes, other questions come up during the interview. I didn’t know his interviewing style, or if his questions would be confined to my book. (A good friend suggested I brush up on current events, just in case. I did, and I also shopped for a new shirt, borrowed my daughter’s best coat and went to the beauty salon.) Yes, I was nervous.

But Bob turned out to be a thoughtful and gracious interviewer, putting me at ease almost instantly. Ariana had given me a bottled water (which I needed, considering how dry one’s mouth becomes when you’re nervous) and I was slowly trying to twist the cap off so I could take a drink as Bob queried me. I reasoned that I could take a sip, swallow, and then be ready to answer his question.

“We’re not live; would you like to take the top off and take a drink?” Bob asked in an amused tone. (I’m sure that wasn’t a prepared question.) But it was the perfect ice-breaker, and I smiled, realizing we weren’t live. This was a recorded interview, to be broadcast later. Bob’s gentle kindness allowed me to tell my story freely, without worrying that the man asking the questions is at the top of his field. (At the top of my field, when you think about it.)

We talked and talked, and I think he went through four or five pages of questions. If I didn’t understand the question, or didn’t answer the question he asked, he rephrased it. He’s a fantastic interviewer, I must say. So it was nothing short of a privilege to be invited there. When we were finished, we chatted briefly about one of the themes from my book that I think is crucial. So does Bob, from what he said.

And that is, abused women simply must stand up for themselves and their children, and the children must come first, before the man. Too many women stay for far too long—and I can say this, because I was one of them—and the damage done to one’s children can then become irreversible. Because children cannot fend for themselves, a parent’s primary responsibility is to do it for them. That’s all there is to it.

I had brought along a camera so I could have my picture taken with Bob, but I was so enjoying the conversation I totally forgot. When we left the interview room, we joined Ariana and Dan, the sound engineer. (He’s charged with making me sound more intelligent and witty than I am—a big task, trust me!) And I hope Bob doesn’t mind, but I want to share the other reason I forgot about the photo op. It’s because the first question out of Bob’s mouth, as we all stood there, was this: “Has Oprah called you yet? Because this is right up her alley.”

(Oh yes, did I forget to mention the life-size picture of Oprah that adorns the wall just as you enter the Sirius building?)

If I hadn’t been on my toes, Bob, Dan and Ariana would have watched as I stood there with my mouth gaping, wide open. It’s one thing for people you know to tell you that, but it’s on a different level entirely when Bob Edwards says it. And if that wasn’t enough, he then asked if anyone was working on a film version or a screenplay. I wasn’t on my toes for that one, I must admit. I’m pretty sure I stammered.

Here’s the thing: as a journalist, meeting Bob Edwards, being interviewed by him, is an honor. But coming to realize he and Ariana (and perhaps even Dan) actually read my book, and had such glowing words of praise for it, left me ecstatic. Ariana escorted me downstairs and I know I floated out of the Sirius building, because I was on Cloud Nine for at least a week. Maybe more.

And it doesn’t get any better than that!

Editor’s Note: Daleen’s interview with Bob Edwards will air tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8, on Sirius XM Radio (XM 133 or Sirius 196) at 8 and 9 a.m., and 3 and 8 p.m. Eastern Time. If you are unable to listen on a satellite radio or online, you can always download the podcast.

UPDATE 12/15/15: Regrettably, Sirius XM Radio cancelled the Bob Edwards Show Sept. 26, 2014. But the good news is, you can still hear Bob’s beautiful voice and admire his broadcast journalism skills at Bob Edwards Radio.


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