BROOKE GLADSTONE: We're back with On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. I was a late convert to the church of Mr. Rogers. In fact, for a very long time, I was pretty much repulsed by the man -- by all the saccharine sincerity, the Pollyanna worldview, the numbing repetition, the purple cardigans matched with olive green trousers, the ugliest decor on the developed world. I couldn't stand the whole wimpy deal! And I couldn't stand it day after day after day damn beautiful day. Then I started watching my children watch him, and over the years began to understand. When you are 3 or 4 years old and you are a little steel ball in the pinball machine of life and you land against an innocuous-looking bumper and are instantaneously propelled --"DON'T TOUCH THAT!" -- full-speed and out-of-control to another apparently safe port, only to be jettisoned again -- "NO, YOU MAY NOT DO THAT!" -- with seemingly no place to alight, there's something to be said for bland security and patience and unequivocal kindness; for drapes that hideously defy grownup convention by being colorful for colorfulness' sake; for the rare expression in a world of harried and jaded adults of the presumption of innocence. In a world awash in parenting pathologies large and small, Mister Rogers was a totally dependable adult. And that's where his saintliness finally hit home for me, because who else is?! Yeah, he had some wardrobe issues, but he never once neglected my children in favor of a sporting event or tax preparation. He never reneged on a promise. When he said he was going to the sneaker factory, by God, he was going there. He never exploded like flash powder before their eyes. He never made mommy cry. It's not just that he was a counterbalance to the media's poisonous other influences. Mister Rogers was also the antidote to-- me! And for that I will never stop being grateful. [MUSIC UP & UNDER] MISTER ROGERS: [SINGING] KNOW THAT THERE'S SOMETHING DEEP INSIDE THAT HELPS US BECOME WHAT WE CAN FOR A GIRL CAN BE SOME DAY A LADY-- AND A BOY-- CAN BE SOME DAY-- A MAN!