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'Talk Of The Nation' Memories: Interview That Made Us Blush

NPR's Carline Watson, who started working at <em>Talk of the Nation</em> in 2005.
Jacques Coughlin
NPR's Carline Watson, who started working at Talk of the Nation in 2005.

All this week, we are remembering our favorite moments from the 21-year-run of Talk of the Nation. With so many driveway moment-inducing interviews, hours of live breaking news, segments with familiar voices, and insights from audience members, it's hard to know where to start. So we asked a few Talk of the Nation staff and alumni to share a story or two.

Carline Watson was the supervising senior producer on Talk of the Nation from April 2005 to November 2012. Although she is now spending her time as acting executive producer on NPR's Tell Me More, she looks fondly on her time at Talk of the Nation.

She shares with us two of her favorite Talk of the Nationinterviews and an excerpt from those conversations that still make her smile... and maybe blush a little too.

"One favorite moment from my time working on Talk of the Nation was with [Host] Neal Conan in February 2007," says Watson. "He was talking to Allen Rucker who had suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down by transverse myelitis."

This is her favorite part of their conversation:

NEAL CONAN: Mm-hmm, sex?

ALLEN RUCKER: Yeah, what about it?

CONAN: Having any?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUCKER: No. No, well, in my condition - I mean there a lot of disabled people whose - what do we call them - who function perfectly sexually, or function well. In my case, you know, I had to put that equipment on the shelf. But that doesn't mean that, you know, that I've lost any ardor for my wife or that we don't have our ways of being intimate, you know. I won't go into any more detail than that.

"Another favorite moment was from August 2009," says Watson. "Linda Wertheimer guest-hosted and actor Sir Ben Kingsley was the guest."

The only talk nexus for intellectually curious voices and national conversations worth having together, TOTN was also the unofficial mentor of local talk shows across the nation. Other shows may air in TOTN's timeslot; none will replace it.

Here is Wertheimer introducing Kingsley:

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Ben Kingsley plays Fergus, who is a - that's a nom de guerre, I guess - in the Irish Troubles. And Fergus convinces a young Irish hustler to infiltrate the IRA and report back. But it's far more dangerous, and horrifying, and conflicted than the young man understands until he was in the middle of it.

In a moment, we'll speak with Sir Ben Kingsley about his latest role in his career. And if you want to talk with Ben Kingsley about what he does and how he does it, we want to hear from you.

And can I just say that it is a given that many of us are fans. We're asking that you call not to praise Sir Ben, but to query him - more about his career, his film choices perhaps. He knows already that you love him.

Is there a Talk of the Nation that had an effect on you? Share your favorite moment from the program in the comments.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Hellewell
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