Milt Rosenberg died in Chicago late on Tuesday night at the age of 92. When truly great people depart this earth, I am inclined to be selfish and mourn not just the glories of the past but the glories that will never be: I will never hear a brand new Frank Sinatra album, never see a new Jerome Robbins dance... With Milt's passing, the selfishness is compounded: whenever my next tome is published, I will never again know the satisfaction of having Milton J Rosenberg conduct a substantive, informed two-hour discussion on the book and its themes unlike anything else anywhere on the airwaves.
For almost four decades Milt's show at WGN was a favorite stop on the tour for the grandest of authors - Norman Mailer, Mary Higgins Clark, Carl Sagan, Salman Rushdie, Betty Friedan - as it became for more intermittent wordsmiths - Mrs Thatcher, Kirk Douglas, Henry Kissinger... Many of those guests became his friends, so that, for example, on the day after the London Tube bombings, he called up the mystery novelist (and author of The Children of Men) P D James and sought out her views, which were characteristically insightful. As Milt told his guest, "I live in continued borrowed radiance from the pleasure of your company" (a very Miltonian formulation), but you can hear that Lady James feels the same about him, as did many of those he interviewed.
Program - Extension - WGN - Wavelength - Extension
The program was called "Extension 720" - 720 is WGN's wavelength and "Extension" was used in the sense of continuing education (in the same way that my local 4-H is formally affiliated with UNH's agricultural extension program). It certainly was that, and, while there may be the odd Chicagoan who refers to it by that title, I never heard anyone in my trade call it anything other...
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