Jim Lehrer’s First Blog From the Rails

BY Jim Lehrer  April 20, 2010 at 2:52 PM EST

Jim Lehrer and Diane Rehm at her show

I come to you from Amtrak #2166 on the way from Washington to New York. Our Acela train is just approaching Baltimore. Being on a train is a most fitting way, it seems to me, to begin the book/public TV station tour that will keep me out and away from The NewsHour for the next three weeks.

My first stop this morning was at the studios of Washington, D.C., public radio station WAMU for an hour’s chat on The Diane Rehm Show, an important NPR member of our public broadcasting family. Diane is fresh from having just won a Peabody Award for her 25-years of quality broadcasting. She and I have done “launch” interviews for at least 10 of my books. The photo above shows the two of us in her studio after today’s version.

The interview this morning was mostly about “Super,” my new novel about some imagined events aboard the Santa Fe railway’s Super Chief, the famed Chicago-to-Los Angeles “Train of the Stars” streamliner. Several of the callers shared fond memories of that lost time of luxury and adventure on the rails of America.

I also got a call about whether I vote in presidential elections. My answer was incomplete. The bottom line is that I began not voting years ago when I first started covering politics as a newspaperman in Texas. I had not wanted to allow my own voting decision making to get in the way of my reporting. I don’t think that every political journalist should do the same. It’s an individual, private matter.

Another person raised my retiring from The NewsHour. The reorganization of The NewsHour was aimed mostly at having it better reflect the team nature of our program. Another purpose was to adjust to the changing media landscape by expanding our presence on-line and thus everywhere beyond our broadcast where serious journalism fits and belongs. There is no question that I will eventually retire, of course, but not now. I’m still having too much fun — and satisfaction.

My wife Kate and I are going to New York for a “Super” party tonight. It has a big NewsHour angle. The co-hosts are Robert and Donna MacNeil and Mary Lou and Joe Quinlan. Robin, of course, was the founding brains and editor of our program. Joe worked for years as a NewsHour reporter and producer.

More to come — I hereby promise and threaten — as I move on over the next several days to Fort Worth, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Albuquerque and other points west and otherwise.

*You can keep up with Jim Lehrer while he travels the country to visit PBS stations and discuss his new novel, “Super,” here on the Rundown and on this map*.