The Post Title I’ve Always Dreamed of Writing: I Was Interviewed by NPR!



Friday morning my Greg-Mortenson-Controversy post went live on GeekMom. As per usual, I tweeted and Facebooked this news to my potential readership–which, in my mind, consists of eight friends from college, one amazingly hip and precocious sixteen-year-old, and a bunch of people who would actually prefer to hear how Kari Byron is doing.

My marketing responsibilities behind me for the day, I then moved on to checking my email.  I scan my inbox and immediately open an email from a familiar-sounding Larry Abramson–an email that references a developing National Public Radio story about Greg Mortenson and ends with the beautiful, beautiful words “Can you let me know how to reach you by phone?” printed above a tiny, tasteful NPR logo.

(Is there such thing as an NPR geek? Clearly, the answer to that question is YES.)

Understand: during the first ten years of my marriage, while my husband was in the Navy, I lived in five states and on two coasts. This was all well before email, social media, or affordable long-distance phone plans. NPR became the well-read friend with elegant diction that came with me to every new assignment, regaling me with beautifully-crafted, topical stories, always making me feel less alone. That email from Mr. Abramson rocketed me straight into “bucket-list” territory…

So how did my actual conversation with Mr. Abramson go? Well, you can hear the completed “Weekend Edition” segment here. I come in a little before the three-minute mark and am quoted with just one sentence. (The sentence that really nailed the story, according to many of my closest friends.) Alternatively, you can scroll down the transcript and read my response–it appears right after the words “Mr. Andrea Schwalm.”

What you cannot hear in my (nuanced) response, fortunately, are the two cats who ran into the bedroom to argue on my lap, mid-interview. Nor can you hear my oldest son, a room away, complaining loudly about being forced to give up technology for Good Friday while his mother, THE HYPOCRITE, talks on the phone, an open laptop resting on her legs…


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5 thoughts on “The Post Title I’ve Always Dreamed of Writing: I Was Interviewed by NPR!

  1. So sorry about the “Mr.” typo! Our transcripts are produced on a rush basis, but we do try to catch these errors whenever possible. I have now corrected it in our archives and uploaded the change to

    Dorothy Hickson
    NPR Transcript Coordinator

  2. Hello, Ms. Hickson! Thank you for the change! I’m thrilled that my name appears on an NPR transcript at all, but correct gender does feel like a bonus 🙂

    Laura: Definitely need to update the bucket list 🙂

  3. Andrea:

    It now being May 17, and with the dust and facts settling, your request for calm and deep breaths may be happening.

    Recent events:

    Outside magazine editor Alex Heard told me in an email that Outside has severed it’s relationship with Jon Krakauer over his angry response to Heard interviewing both Mortenson and his climbing partner Scott Darnsey. He left a voice mail for Mr. Heard calling him a “stooge” followed by two emails that were not printable, but according to Mr. Heard “Jon Krakauer is no longer affilliated with Outside and we are not on speaking terms.”

    Additionally, journalist McKenzie Funk (Mother Jones and Harper’s writer) commented on the CBS blog on the story that he had a source who claims to know Mansur Khan Mahsud (the “academic” referred to in other articles) uncle, Naimat Gull Mahsud, who was a fugative from a life sentence for kidnapping when he met Mortenson. According to his source, he was going to exhort money from GM (via kidnapping or other ruse) and the Mahsud family became concerned for the ramifications, and when the Pakistani authorities found out he was there, they told the family they better let him go (Mansur Mahsud makes it sound like he had to push Mortenson down the mountain to get him to go home).

    Mansur Mahsud does not deny his uncle or his family took Mortenson’s passport and money, and Mortenson continues to defend his position that he was detained and was not free to go.

    To add insult to injury, Jon Krakauer called Mansur Mahsud the day before “TCD” went online encouraging Mansur to sue Mortenson for defamation because he said his family were Taliban (which is a bit like calling someone from Texas a Republican, it may or may not be true).

    The truth is, even in Mansur Mahsud’s own words “criminal gangs and k idnapers who prey on the unwary” were active in the area when Mortenson was there. So he had every reason to believe his life was in danger.

    CAI has, as you noted, responded to the allegations and their figures state that 71% of donations (averaged) go directly to the programs that build schools.

    I am an ESL teacher in Asia for one of the largest private English language training centers in China, and we have schools/offices in most all of the provinces in China, and even with all our financial resources, we still currently have 5 empty schools.

    Why? Because we can not find qualified teachers who are willing to teach in remote locations for much smaller salaries than they can earn in the large urban areas like Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

    It used to be that a man was presumed innocent until proven guilty in this country. Are we so gob-smacked by the instantaneousness of the electronic world that we believe everything anyone writes?

    I don’t.

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