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Bidding adieu to a N.C. institution and a friend

A North Carolina institution kicks off its 23rd and, sadly, final season Nov. 7 when The Saunders Report’s own Saunders sits down with D.G. Martin, the estimable host of N.C. Bookwatch.

The PBS show will air at 10:30 a.m. on WUNC-TV and at 3:30 p.m. on UNC-TV.

Martin, in addition to hosting Bookwatch since 1999, is an author, syndicated columnist, educator and politician who can speak knowingly on just about everything.

Saunders, in an interview with himself while drinking a peanut butter, blueberry and spinach smoothie, said he was honored to be the first guest to begin the show’s final season.

“It’s bittersweet, that’s for sure,” he said, before clarifying that he was not talking about the smoothie. “It’s a joy to sit and chat with D.G., but that joy is tempered by the fact that this will be the show's final season.

“Want to know how you know you’re grown?” Saunders asked. “When, instead of checking the TV schedule to see who’s on Soul Train*, you turn to PBS to see which author D.G. is interviewing that weekend. I’ve been privileged to be a guest at dinner parties where D.G. was present, and we’ve always had stimulating, enlightening conversations.

“I suspect that he and I are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but our conversations have always been respectful and genial. To me, he personifies the adage ‘You can disagree without being disagreeable.’”

Other North Carolina authors who’ll share the stage with Martin during Bookwatch's final season are Clyde Edgerton, Wiley Cash, Annette Clapsaddle and Bland Simpson.

Saunders, wiping away a tear and a smidgeon of blueberry smoothie, said "I am humbled to be interviewed by the man who can interview poet extraordinaire Jaki Shelton Green and authors such as Allan Gurganus and John Grisham and write a book about the best places to get barbecue in North Carolina."

PBS North Carolina CEO Lindsay Bierman said “For more than two decades, D.G.’s program has advanced our mission to educate, inform, entertain and inspire our audiences. He captivated his viewers with an abiding love of reading and storytelling while introducing us to some of the nation’s most powerful voices and prolific writers. D.G.’s legacy and contribution to our network will have archival significance and enduring impact.”

Right on.

*Saunders added that, despite being grown, he still watches Soul Train.