The Epic Interview with a Children's Television Legend

Fred Rogers was a puppeteer and ordained minister who became the host of the TV program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  He wrote 200 songs for the show, including the theme, "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood."

He was honored with numerous awards and accolades for his dedication to children via television including four daytime Emmys, a 1997 Lifetime Achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and, in 2002, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

In the very first show that aired on PBS, Fred Rogers began the program much as he would over the next 33 years by walking through the front door of his television house and trading in his raincoat and suit jacket for a zippered sweater. The sweaters soon became as much a part of the program as the puppets.  In all, Rogers had about two dozen of them, all made by his mother.  In 1984, the Smithsonian Institution chose to put one of the famous sweaters on exhibit. 

In 1999, Fred Rogers was interviewed for the Archive of American Television.  If you are in Children's Ministry, this is a great opportunity to learn from a man who was a master at engaging and teaching children.  There are so many nuggets of wisdom to pick up about ministering to children.

I have posted the parts of the interview that are relevant to Children's Ministry.  Because the interview is so long, you may want to bookmark this and enjoy it in segments over the course of a week.  Each segment is about half an hour long. 

"I saw this new thing called television, and I saw people throwing pies in each other’s faces, and I thought, this could be a wonderful tool for education!  Why is it being used this way?  So I said to my parents, You know, I don’t think I’ll go into seminary right away.   I think I’ll go into television."


“Deep and simple are far, far more important than shallow and complicated and fancy.”


Lots of topics here, but most gripping is his discussion of the special episode after RFK’s assassination.  To parents: “The best you can do is to include your children in your own ways of dealing with grief, because your children will know anyway, without you saying anything, how you’re feeling.”


Funding the show; TV’s responsibility to children; his visit to the Soviet Union.