Ron Lieber

My friend, Ron Lieber, leads the league in reasoned, thoughtful conversations about hard things. This week, the New York Times Columnist and Best Seller shares who inspires him, why curiosity is so important and how he ran two marathons in 30 days.

Brian Ives

For more than 30 years, Brian Ives has kept the music scoops coming on SiriusXM, VH1 and MTV. Brian currently runs digital content operations for Beasley Radio’s 40+ stations, and hosts a podcast called, “How You Play Your Hand” about musicians and resilience. This week, Brian and I discuss doing what you love, building rapport with artists and colleagues, and being present.

Martine McDonald

Martine McDonald

As Education Director at the New York International Children’s Film Festival, and Founder of Practice Wonder, Martine McDonald is “dedicated to co-creating and developing diverse children’s media with mindfulness and representation of LGBTQ+ and families of color on screen.” In this episode, Martine, an early “Mister Rogers & Me” booster, goes deep into her journey as an advocate for diversity and inclusion, and a human being on Earth.

An “Essential” Conversation, Part II

An “Essential” Conversation, Part II

In the second part of our two-part conversation, music journalist, Brian Ives, and I discuss my new collection of “greatest hits,” “Essential Benjamin Wagner (2001-2021),” including stories behind set staples “Summer’s Gone,” “Crash Site,” and “Dear Elizabeth,” as well as their potential legacy.

An “Essential” Conversation, Part I

An “Essential” Conversation, Part I

When it came to helping me put context on two decades of music for my new release, “Essential Benjamin Wagner (2001-2021),” my friend, Brian Ives, was the only choice. Brian is a rock journalism lifer with three decades at MTV, VH1, Loudwire, Sirius XM and He currently runs digital content operations for Beasley Radio’s 40+ stations, and hosts the podcast, “How You Play Your Hand.”

Karen Baum Gordon

Karen Baum Gordon

In her new book, “The Last Letter,” author Karen Baum Gordon explores the events that shaped the lives of her father and his parents — two Holocaust victims that he tried in vain to save in the early years of World War II. In this painstakingly researched, heartbreaking and inspiring page-turner, Karen reminds us that we often need to move towards our pain in order to understand it, and then let go of it in order to move on.

Dear Elizabeth

How one Hell’s Kitchen public school custodian helped me understand the weight of sadness, and turn it into one of my most beloved songs.

Everything Is Unsettled

Everything Is Unsettled

This week, a nor’easter blows through the Brandywine Valley, downing limbs, shattering crockery, and prompting a reckoning.

Three Little Birds

Three Little Birds

Trench Town rock via Waterloo, Iowa. Or, Why I Covered Bob Marley.

Shaking The Nonsense Out

Shaking The Nonsense Out

In the sermon of Abbigail and my wedding ceremony (fourteen years ago today), our officiant, Fred Rogers’ ally, Bo Lozoff, tempered our idealized, golden-hour, white-chiffon fantasies with reasoned, practical, even difficult wisdom.


This week, a story about everyday heroism, Wissahickon Schist and The Wisdom of Fred.

We’re All Gonna Die

We’re All Gonna Die

What do you do when your real life exceeds your wildest imagination? Don’t keep it to yourself.

Into Your Arms

Through tsunamis, draught, insurgencies, pandemics, heartbreak, worry and regret, one deep, simple and essential truth provides sanctuary.

Into The South

From Nashville to Memphis and Muscle Shoals, join “Friends & Neighbors” host Benjamin Wagner as he travels deep into the south to walk the floor at The Ryman Auditorium, meet Elvis’ ghost, and record with The World Famous Swampers.

Joe Smith

Whether playing The Best Buy Guy, Cheez-It Scientist, or Generally Clueless Husband, actor Joe Smith always breaths humanity and humility into his characters.

Roger Clark

For two decades, reporter Roger Clark has been Spectrum News NY1‘s everyman, rendering curiosity, empathy and humility for the world’s most-watched local news channel. Today, he shares tales from his Queens upbringing to his trial-by-fire as a newly-minted reporter in the weeks after September 11th.

Megan Watkins

Farm Sanctuary CEO, Megan Watkins, shares her journey from Newton, Massachusetts, to Barnard College, Big Banking and beyond, including the moment she knew what she had to do to align herself with her values and lead a movement

Tim Madigan

The highly-decorated columnist and author of I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers and The Burning: The Tulsa Massacre, shares deep, hard-earned insights on how the stories we tell can transform us, and one another.

Áine Kerr

What’s life like on the edge of your comfort zone? Kinzen Co-Founder and COO, Áine Kerr, shares her journey from quiet County Monaghan to the front lines of the battle against misinformation.

Bill Flanagan

As an MTV executive, Bill Flanagan helped passionate music fans get closer their favorite artists. As an author of six books, he helps readers get closer to their humanity. As a mentor, Bill has helped me understand myself, and my work. This week, Bill shares a few tales from some wild rides with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Ray Davies to Jimmy Buffet and Robert Plant.

Anna Sale

For nearly a decade on her NPR show, “Death, Sex & Money,” and in her new book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” Anna Sale reminds us that, as Mister Rogers said, “What is mentionable is manageable.”

Kara Goldin

The dots may connect when we look back at our lives, but how can we make sense of the moment when we’re in it? And keep growing despite bad days, bad luck, negativity and naysayers? Hint CEO, Kara Goldin, shares insight from her book, “Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts & Doubters.”

Negin Farsad

If laughter is the best medicine, how do we use it to cure the cancer of racism without flatlining? My guest and friend, Social Justice Comedian, “How To Make A White Person Laugh;” Writer, Director and Star of “3d Street Blackout,” “Fake The Nation” Host, Mother and The Only Person I Know To Sustain A Mime-Related Injury, Negin Farsad, offers a prognosis.

Season Two Trailer

Season Two Trailer

In Season Two, Farm Sanctuary CEO, Megan Watkins, encourages us to be helpers; Hint CEO, Kara Goldin, reminds us that even our most confounding challenges make sense in the end; and social justice comedian, Negin Farsad, shares how she uses comedy to shatter stereotypes. We’ll also go deep with “Death, Sex & Money” Host, Anna Sale; New York Times Columnist, Ron Lieber; TV Executive and Author, Bill Flanagan, and more.

Rob Markman

How does hip hop artist and media executive, Rob Markman, exceed expectation, over-perform and over-deliver in the middle of a global pandemic? With steady-handed, pragmatic optimism, grace and humility — plus a few, well-placed and timed words of encouragement. Listen up.

Giving Thanks

As we pause to count our blessings and our tears, let us remember and reach out to the frail forms fainting at the door —  to those who may need our kindness, our generosity, or our help the most. They may be right down the street. They may be right next door. Or they may be right beside you.

Because, Mister Rogers reminds us, “All of us, at some time or another need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s what connects us as neighbors.”

Amy Hollingsworth

Amy Hollingsworth

“The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers” author, Amy Hollingsworth, discusses her friendship with America’s Favorite Neighbor, the upside of counting paper clips and imperative to cultivatE an eye for the glimmer.

Craig Mullaney

Rhodes Scholar, Army Veteran and Best Selling Author, Craig Mullaney, shares his lessons on loss, courage and resilience hard earned from West Point to Oxford, Warwick to Afghanistan — and well beyond.

Jason Walsmith

Singer, songwriter, photographer, storyteller and Nadas front man, Jason Walsmith, takes us on a half-life journey from Des Moines to Beijing and back with a guitar, a camera, and one simple word that’s gotten him through all the flat tires, flat notes, and flat beers along the way.

Whitney Matheson

Whitney Matheson

Blogging Legend, Newsletter Pioneer & Comic Book Author, Whitney Matheson, shares her story from small-town USA to the pages of USA Today.

What set Whit apart then as now, is her guileless, unbridled enthusiasm for creativity in all its forms: art, books, movies, television. Her love of things is palpable, her fandom infectious. Whitney’s optimism and ambition is inspiring.

So it was only natural that we would kick off this, our premiere season of “Friends & Neighbors” with Whitney; she’s been encouraging me to do something like this for months.

Season One Trailer

Season One Trailer

From the filmmaker brothers who brought you “Mister Rogers & Me,” “Friends & Neighbors” explores how our friends and neighbors around the world are cultivating depth and simplicity in their own complex lives.

Each 45-minute episode seeks substantive insights about our guest’s life experience, and specific, personal and actionable approaches to living a deep and simple life: building community, managing possessions and seeking reflection.

In our first season, we’ll meet Pop Culture Writer, Whitney Matheson, Veteran & Author, Craig Mullaney; Entrepreneur, Aine Kerr; Singer/Songwriter, Jason Walsmith; Rapper & Executive, Rob Markman; and more.

Starting Wednesday, October 14, watch on YouTube and Facebook, or listen on Apple or anywhere you find podcasts.

“About “Friends & Neighbors”

“Friends & Neighbors” explores how our friends and neighbors across the world are cultivating depth and simplicity in their own complex lives. 

Each episode seeks substantive insights about our guest’s life experience, and specific, personal and actionable approaches to living a deep and simple life: building community, managing possession and seeking reflection. 

Thus far, we’ve met Pop Culture Writer, Whitney Mattheson; Army Veteran & Author, Craig Mullaney; Entrepreneur, Aine Kerr; Singer/Songwriter, Jason Walsmith; Rapper, Rob Markman; Hint CEO Kara Goldin; Kinzen COO Áine Kerr; Social Justice Comedian Negin Farsad; and more.

“Friends & Neighbors” is available Wednesdays on Apple and Spotify podcasts, YouTube and Facebook. And subscribe to our newsletter.

Because your “Friends & Neighbors” are everywhere.

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