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Ken Rudin: The FishbowlDC Interview

kr_sigpix04_web.jpgSay hello to NPR’s Ken Rudin. He likes writing in all capital letters.

How many suits do you own? FIVE OR SIX. MY PROBLEM IS THAT I NEVER KNOW WHICH ONE TO WEAR WHEN I’M ON NPR’S “TALK OF THE NATION.”

What word do you routinely misspell? THERE ARE TWO “S”‘S IN MISSPELL???

Did you see Brokeback Mountain? I HAVE NOT, BUT IRONICALLY, LAST WEEK I RENTED “REAR WINDOW.”

Did you see The Da Vinci Code? NO

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? NO NAME, BUT IT REMINDS ME OF A TRUE STORY. IT’S 1989, AND IT’S MY FIRST WEEK OF COVERING THE HOUSE AS AN OFF-AIR REPORTER FOR ABC NEWS. I’M ATTENDING A BRIEFING GIVEN BY THEN-MAJORITY LEADER TOM FOLEY. IT’S ALSO THE FIRST TIME I HAD A CELL PHONE, AND I PUT IT ON VIBRATE JUST PRIOR TO THE BRIEFING. SO I’M ASKING FOLEY A QUESTION, AND SUDDENLY THE PHONE VIBRATES. I GET STARTLED, NEARLY JUMP OUT OF MY SHOES, AND LET OUT AN AUDIBLE GASP. I STILL REMEMBER THE LOOK ON FOLEY’S FACE. I’M SURE THIS IS JUST A COINCIDENCE, BUT FOUR AND A HALF YEARS LATER, FOLEY IS DEFEATED FOR RE-ELECTION.

What time did you get up this morning? 6:10 A.M., WHICH IS USUALLY THE CASE ON WORK DAYS. ON WEEKENDS I SLEEP TO 9:30 OR 10.

Read the rest when you click below…(and see previous FishbowlDC interviews: Julie Mason, David Shuster, Joe Curl, Alex Pareene, Peter Beinart, Jonah Goldberg, Megyn Kendall, Ana Marie Cox, Jim Brady, Howard Mortman, Amy Argetsinger, Jose Antonio Vargas, Chuck Todd, Tom Gottlieb, Kelly Ann Collins, David von Drehle, David Lat, Mark Leibovich, Zain Verjee, David Plotz, Paul Kane, Karen Travers, Mark Halperin, Hugo Gurdon, Greg Kelly)


When did you last cry and why? I USUALLY DON’T CRY ABOUT THINGS THAT DIRECTLY AFFECT ME. BUT I’LL READ OR SEE SOMETHING ABOUT 9/11 AND I’LL ALMOST ALWAYS CRY. OR I’LL CRY IN A MOVIE THEATER — WHICH IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE EASY TO DO, NOW THAT TICKETS ARE APPROACHING TEN DOLLARS. TRUTH BE TOLD, I DO CRY IN MOVIES QUITE OFTEN.

Which of the seven deadly sins are you? DEFINITELY NOT WRATH OR ENVY. IF I COULD EXPAND THE LIST TO EIGHT DEADLY SINS, I WOULD SAY “MESSY DESK.”

Beach, city or country? WHEN I WAS A KID, IT WAS THE COUNTRY — SPECIFICALLY, UPSTATE NEW YORK. NOW I WOULD SAY THE BEACH. I LOVE THE SUMMERTIME MORE THAN EVER, AND I LOVE THE WATER. I THINK IT’S INSANE THAT I HAVE TO DRIVE SOME THREE HOURS TO GET TO THE OCEAN.

Would you say you’re cute? Pretty? Hot? Beautiful? I THINK SOMEBODY ONCE TOLD ME I WAS VERY CUTE. I BELIEVE IT WAS DURING THE LATTER PART OF THE EISENHOWER ADMINISTRATION.

What color is your bathroom? THREE BATHROOMS. ONE WHITE, ONE BLACK AND WHITE, AND ONE OLIVE GREEN AND WHITE.

How many emails do you receive a day, roughly? FIVE HUNDRED OR SO.

What’s your opinion of New York City? I GREW UP IN NEW YORK. I LOVED IT AS A KID, I LOVED IT AS AN ADULT WHEN I MOVED TO NEW JERSEY BUT WORKED IN NEW YORK, AND I LOVE IT WHEN I GO BACK TO SEE FAMILY OR FRIENDS. I HAVE THIS GREAT NOSTALGIA FOR THINGS PAST, WHICH INCLUDES NEW YORK. BUT WASHINGTON IS WHERE I BELONG.

What’s your favorite letter? “DEAR MR. RUDIN, YOU HAVE JUST WON TEN MILLION DOLLARS IN THE PUBLISHER’S CLEARING HOUSE SWEEPSTAKES.”

What single person played the biggest role / had the biggest influence on your journalism career? THAT’S A QUESTION I’VE NEVER BEEN ASKED BEFORE, AND IT MAKES ME THINK. THERE USED TO BE A COLUMNIST IN THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS NAMED TED LEWIS, WHO WROTE ABOUT CAMPAIGNS AND POLITICS AND STUFF LIKE THAT. I USED TO READ EVERY SINGLE WORD HE WROTE. WHEN I KNEW I WANTED TO BE A POLITICAL JOURNALIST, TED LEWIS IS THE ONE I WANTED TO EMULATE.

Have you ever downloaded a podcast? If so, which one? I ONLY STARTED LEARNING ABOUT PODCASTS RECENTLY WHEN (1) I STARTED DOING ONE FOR NPR, AND (2) MY EIGHT-TRACK PLAYER BROKE. BUT I’M LEARNING.

Who’s your all-time favorite American Idol candidate? WITHOUT A QUESTION, LOU DOBBS.

When’s the last time you volunteered? Where? YOU THINK WE GET PAID AT NPR? I WAS THE COACH FOR MY SON’S BASEBALL TEAM FOR SIX OR SEVEN YEARS, WHERE I RAN THE PRACTICES, TAUGHT FUNDAMENTALS, PREPARED FOR THE GAME, AND DID EVERYTHING I COULD FOR THE KIDS TO HAVE FUN, WIN OR LOSE.

Who is your favorite active journalist? I DON’T KNOW IF I HAVE ONE. BUT I HAVE GREAT RESPECT AND ADMIRATION FOR WHAT NPR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS DO, ESPECIALLY IN THEIR WAR COVERAGE.

What did you have for breakfast? CHEERIOS AND A GLASS OF SUNNY DELIGHT. I’VE LOVED SUNNY DELIGHT EVER SINCE HE LOST TO CASSIUS CLAY.

What’s your favorite item of clothing? I HAVE FAVORITE TIES, BUT NOT ONE FAVORITE.

What one toiletry item could you not live without? WITHOUT A QUESTION, LOU DOBBS.

If you could have one superpower, which one would it be? WHEN I WAS YOUNGER AND OBSESSED WITH GIRLS, I WANTED TO HAVE X-RAY VISION. I STILL THINK ABOUT THAT FROM TIME TO TIME.

Better role model: GIJoe? Barbie? DEFINITELY GI JOE. I’VE ALWAYS FELT THAT BARBIE HAS NEVER FULLY PAID FOR THE CRIMES HE COMMITTED ON BEHALF OF THE NAZIS DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

Each FishbowlDC Interview subject is asked to contribute a word to this ongoing thread. Thus far we have…”Leprechaun suits shimmer Sensenbrennerly. Never regurgitate, orginate! Ideally, chutzpah feathers one’s soul melodically. Rhythmically, supergalifragilistic sounds baroque indeed nefarious but Springsteen defenestrates only stumblebums vote.” Dirk Kempthorne

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