A positive Jewish voice in R.I. talk radio
The Jewish Voice and Herald
February 6, 2009
by Richard Asinoff
EAST PROVIDENCE – In the kvetching landscape of talk radio in Rhode Island, Patricia Raskin’s two hours of “Positive Living” on WPRO on Sunday afternoons, from noon to 2 p.m., is a growing force on the local airwaves.
It is attracting a wide audience that seems to want to listen and learn more about how to accentuate the positive in their lives.
Raskin, 61, who lives in Newport, is often accompanied to the studio along the Wampanoag Trail by her 92-year-old father, Melvin, a retired dentist; he is now a resident of Tamarisk Assisted Living in Warwick. Indeed, her strong, evolving relationship with her father – and his support for her “pathfinding” ways – has been a major influence on her life.
In her first book, Pathfinding: Seven Principles for Positive Living, her father wrote the foreword, in which he said: “It is truly fulfilling to have a child – your adult child – come to you with some of the things you taught her and realize they took. The foundation of a child’s respect for parents and society is the greatest strength a culture can have.”
“My Judaism is very important to me,” Raskin said. “It’s very much about tradition and family values. It’s about the value of tikkun olam, repairing the world.”
Raskin, whose media career began with a pioneering cable TV show in Massachusetts some three decades ago, is now both on air and on line with three Internet-based call-in shows. Her diminutive size – about 5 feet tall – belies both a powerhouse radio voice and her enormous bundle of energy. “Even as a child, I could never sit still,” she said.
Upcoming topics on her show will include interviews with the granddaughter and son of Tuvia Bielski, the real-life Jewish partisan played by Daniel Craig in the movie, “Defiance,” who helped to save more than 1,200 Jews during World War II and whose descendants now number in the tens of thousands.
The show is scheduled to air at noon on Feb. 22, and will also include an interview with Joe Fab, producer and co-director of the movie, “Paper Clips,” the inspiring film about middle school students in southeastern Tennessee who created a moment for Holocaust victims by collecting paper clips to represent individuals who had been killed by the Nazis.
The transition from teacher and guidance counselor to innovative cable TV and radio talk show host was the realization that she was tired of trying to put Band-Aids on problems faced by the schoolchildren that were much more related to the need for a better parenting environment.
From Massachusetts to North Carolina and now here in Rhode Island, Raskin has put her ideas on how to live life to the fullest to work on air and online, “changing obstacles into opportunities and challenges into solutions.” Her shows can be heard streaming at www.talkzone.com, www.voiceamerica.com, and www.630wpro.com.
Her goal is to help people to live healthier and more positive lives. She prides herself on her interviewing skills, engaging with her listeners. As she told one reporter: “Everyone can use a coach, I think. Tiger Woods is fantastic. But even he needs coaching.”
Her guests are a panoply of positive thinkers: Jane Seymour, Dan Millman, Sue Monk Kidd, Thomas Moore, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Memhet Oz, Michael Gelb, John Gray, Theodore Bikel, David Bach and Ann Louise Gittleman.
Raskin has clearly hit a very resonant chord with listeners; her ratings have quadrupled and WPRO has increased her show to two hours.
Father and Daughter
Raskin very much wanted her father to be a part of her interview with The Voice & Herald, because of the important role he had played in shaping her beliefs. Her father, a dentist, had retired to Florida and become the spiritual leader of a congregation on Marco Island.
Having gone to school in Alabama (radio announcer Mel Allen was his roommate in college), he served during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Force.
Now, at Tamarisk, he relishes the opportunity to be involved with Judaism.
It also enables the family to be closer together – Raskin’s brother, Russell, is an attorney in Providence.
The relationship between the father and daughter at times seems very much an evolving work-in-progress, where strong but loving personalities interact. They often have agreed to disagree.
In the interview, Patricia jumps right in, asking – and sometimes answering – questions to fill in any “dead air” as her father ponders his answer.
Raskin praises her father’s ability to be supportive and to listen; he, in turn responds with a grin: “Oh, yes, I listen, and then I tell her she’s wrong.”
Melvin admits he often shied away from giving her too much praise when she was growing up, or bragging about her, because he didn’t want to invoke an “evil eye,” drawing too much attention, and tempting fate.
“I want to see her ‘hit it,’” he admitted. “I’d like her to get the recognition for her work more than just locally.”
Patricia responds: “One of my goals is for my father to live to see the kind of success that I have now in my work. He has always been so supportive of me.”
For more information about Patricia Raskin, go to www.patriciaraskin.com, or contact here at firstname.lastname@example.org.