Patty Peltekos is the new host of Monday’s A Public Affair, 12–1pm, replacing Yuri Rashkin, who is now teaching full-time at UW-Whitewater in Communications.
Finally, we have the chance to find out why Patty is such a news junkie.
WORT: What was the first news story you remember paying attention to?
Patty: I was five years old, playing on the living room floor, when my mom started crying about something on the radio. She was listening to the newscast about President Kennedy’s assassination. I had no idea why she was so upset, but that memory is stuck in my head.
What event helped shape your idea of the role of news?
I’m not sure there was any one event. We always had newspapers in the house and my mom was attached to her radios. KUOM, the AM station from the University of Minnesota, was on a lot in our house when I was a kid. Until I was eight, we lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield; my parents paid very close attention to Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner. My dad grew up in Istanbul and was a WWII vet, and he paid close attention to the news about Vietnam, and anything related to Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. He loved reading history, especially anything about WWII, but he also occasionally brought home Greek-language newspapers. My oldest sister worked on her high school newspaper and then went to study journalism at the University of Minnesota, and that was definitely an influence on me.
Did your idea of the role of news change with the ascendancy of the internet and the use of social media?
I’m devoted to print journalism. In a past life, I worked in book and magazine publishing, and jobs at Minneapolis’ Star and Tribune helped pay my way through college.
There have been periods in my life where I ignored the news, especially my junior of college when I was in Scotland, although that was the year of the Iran hostage crisis and yes, we were all glued to the TV for that. Then I spent five months living on an island off the west coast of Scotland, and pretty much the only consistent daily news we had was from the BBC Radio Scotland.
I’ve never paid much attention to TV news, but print and radio are so important to me that it’s hard to imagine life without them, though it’s getting easier to imagine life without print news, painful as it is to say. Given what is happening to print, I have to rely on the web, though sometimes I read articles and say, “Where was the editor? Did a human PROOFREAD this piece?” As for social media, well, sometimes you just have to slow down and take time to absorb what’s around you. Sort of like Slow Food. That’s not the nature of the news cycle, but stepping back is important.
Why is WORT such an important part of your daily life?
All of the incredible music programming—jazz, early music, world/folk music—and the news. Where else could I listen to A Public Affair, Amy Goodman, and all of the voices that I can hear on WORT? Those sounds are to me what makes WORT such an amazing station—the voices are genuine, and they are the voices of WORT.
What do you do when you’re not at the station?
Mark, my husband, and I live on 13 acres in southwestern Dane County with three hens, two goats, and two cats. Our lives intersect with those of at least one fox family, one deer and her two fawns, one family of six turkeys, and a surplus of rabbits and raccoons. WORT fits in around the time I devote to baking bread, making yogurt, freezing fruit, killing Japanese beetles and other garden pests, going for bike rides, and disappearing into the web. A few years ago, a lever harp entered my life. Practicing the harp is a great antidote to my web reading. I own more sewing machines than I can use and more bikes than I can ride at the same time. My latest winter activity is raking snow off our solar-panels.