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I was very excited to have been asked by Thom Hartmann, Air America Radio talk show host, to help on his trip to Pittsburgh January 5 2007, when he came to town to broadcast his show and sign copies of his new book. I started listening to Thom's show over a year ago, and chatted with him a few times in his live chat room during his afternoon show, heard every day locally at WPTT 1360am from noon - 3pm. When I heard he was coming to Pittsburgh, I put him in touch with my husband, a journalist at our local paper. (My husband, an editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote this review about his latest book: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07004/750971-44.stm ) I also sent off an email to Thom and his wife, the night before his trip, offering to help out in any way I could. I was pretty surprised, and honored, to get a phone call the next day from Thom, asking if I'd be interested in helping him navigate Pittsburgh? "Sure," I said, and after we hung up, immediately phoned my sitter...

The day began by picking Thom up at his hotel around 10:30am, and heading to WPTT, about 20 minutes from the hotel. It was such a thrill meeting him! But I have to admit I was kind of nervous - but joked with him when I got there, that the best way to forget about being nervous about meeting someone, is to get lost (which I did winding off that parkway exit for about 5 minutes)! But very quickly, I was at ease, and we were off...in the steady rain to the station...

It was so much fun getting to watch Thom broadcast his show. Even just watching the technical wizardry needed of the local engineers, to pull off a broadcast between Air America in New York, then send it out to around 85 stations across the country was fascinating! (Everybody at WPTT was unbelievably kind and accomodating!)

After the show, we decided to search out a Thai restaurant, so I suggested one in Shadyside. What an amazing treat it was to have one-on-one time with Thom Hartmann, someone who has written 18 books, and met both the Pope and Dalai Lama! At the end of our meal, I asked him, (while apologizing for this question sounding like an interview), "Thom, what is your ultimate goal - what do you aspire to do next?" He thought for a split second then answered, "I want to bring peace to the world." That simple. How profound, and beautiful, I thought. For a man of so many words.

After our meal we drove back to my photography studio, where where we were able chat some more, share some photos of our families, and talk more about spirituality, politics, etc. A half hour later, my husband arrived and the three of us left for the bookstore. En route to Borders, Thom got a phone call from his wife in Portland OR, letting him know he needed to do a last minute interview with a radio station in Minneapolis, where he'd be appearing the next day to sign books! The interview finished just as we pulled up at Borders, at 6:59pm! Perfect timing.

I was hoping for a sizeable crowd, after the trek Thom made across the country to get here, but I couldn't believe it when I walked into Borders. This is a BIG store, and it was FULL of people. I knew I had the wrong lens on my camera, to accurately capture the size of the crowd! It was hard to get a good vantage point as well, as every chair, corner and nook was filled. I estimated between 300-400 people - standing room only. The folks at Borders told me people started arriving at 5:30 to reserve chairs for his 7pm presentation!

Thom gave a wonderful one hour talk. He managed to put hundreds of years of history, and our current political situation in context, and made it easily understandable. He also has the unique ability to blend humor with 'serious' topics. I don't think there was one person who walked into that store, who wasn't drawn to Thom's presentation. I said to my husband, "Thom brilliantly lays out the BIG dots, then leaves it up to us to connect them." After his inspiring talk, the line of appreciative fans began to form for the book signing. Borders was amazed, as they sold every copy of his book, and had to start selling the ones on the display wall behind him! Thom sat for 40 minutes and signed every book, shook every hand, and even posed for some photos afterwards! (If anyone would like a copy of one, please email me at mary.mervis@verizon.net, and I'll be happy to email you the file.)

On the way to the car, my little girl Ivy called. She wanted to know if we would stop by the house before taking Thom back to his hotel, so she could meet him. Ivy is only 7, but I think she intuitively understands the importance of Thom's work, by the way her mommy talks about his books and radio show! (In fact, during that half hour when Thom was at my studio, Ivy called and asked, "Mom, is Thom Hartmann REALLY sitting next to you in your studio???" Was pretty cute!)

Anyhow, Thom graciously offered to stop by, and pose for a few photos with the kids. My husband took over the camera, and caught Thom captivating my kids with this silly trick of pretending to break their noses! "Stupid human tricks with Thom Hartmann," I joked! My kids, of course, loved it! (I continued to be amazed with how many ways he can connect with people! Oh, Ivy is perfecting the nose trick, btw Thom!)

We finally said our goodbyes, and I stayed behind with the kiddies, while my husband took Thom back to his hotel, so he could get up at 4am to fly to his next destination. What a schedule!

At all times throughout the day, whether it was working with the technicians to get the technical bugs worked out, while they had seconds before a national broadcast, or juggling this last minute interview, Thom was always very calm, relaxed, and more than happy to share some humorous dialogue. I am very grateful for the unbelievable amount of energy Thom puts into his work. All for the benefit of this country, our humanity, and our world.

Thom - thanks so much for all you do. The world is a much, much better place because of you.


For more information about Thom, please visit his website: http://www.thomhartmann.com

"We must clearly articulate a vision of what America could be in a world in balance, a world at peace. This is the ultimate family value, the highest patriotism, and the most desperately needed story to guide the next generation of Americans. Now is the time for us to stand together, for this is the critical and decisive hour. We in the 'Radical Middle' are calling for nothing less than a restoration of democracy - a government of, by and for the people..."

Thom Hartmann,
"We the People - A Call to Take Back America"

(Please DOUBLE CLICK on each photo, to view it larger, then click the 'next' button in the upper right hand corner to move through the photos.)
Thom broadcasting from WPTT in Pittsburgh
Thom broadcasting from WPTT in Pittsburgh
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Lynn Cullen, another great 'liberal' talk show host from WPTT, with Thom
Lynn Cullen, another great 'liberal' talk show host from WPTT, with Thom
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Thom participates in his live chat room WHILE doing his show!
Thom participates in his live chat room WHILE doing his show!
Arriving at Borders, Thom apparently runs into an old friend - and hands him his phone to say hello to his wife Louise!
Arriving at Borders, Thom apparently runs into an old friend - and hands him his phone to say hello to his wife Louise!
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Lots of applause!
Lots of applause!
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After counting ceiling tile - maybe 50-60' - but it was LONG!
After counting ceiling tile - maybe 50-60' - but it was LONG!
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Lilo from the chat room!
Lilo from the chat room!
Two really nice people who drove all the way from Ohio to see Thom
Two really nice people who drove all the way from Ohio to see Thom
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My friend Mike from my Democratic Group
My friend Mike from my Democratic Group
Thom and David Pavlic, General Manager from WPTT
Thom and David Pavlic, General Manager from WPTT
Thom, Rea (from Borders) and David
Thom, Rea (from Borders) and David
Three women who couldn't get their cell phone cameras to work!
Three women who couldn't get their cell phone cameras to work!
Thom goofing around with my kids!
Thom goofing around with my kids!
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Teaching them the 'nose' trick!
Teaching them the 'nose' trick!
Ivy, Thom, me, Sawyer (on lap) and Hunter - missing are Chelsea (with friends) and hubby (behind the camera!)
Ivy, Thom, me, Sawyer (on lap) and Hunter - missing are Chelsea (with friends) and hubby (behind the camera!)