'Tea with Marie' cable TV program earns plaudits for inspiring stories
residents Judy Begin (left), director, and Marie Younkin-Waldman, host
of the cable TV program "Tea with Marie," hold their PEG awards after
the ceremony earlier this month at Hasbro in Pawtucket. The show won
two awards for "Best Live Performance Program" and "Best Series" and
was nominated for eight others.
- For seven years, the cable TV program "Tea with Marie" has tilted at
windmills, aiming to prove that the news isn't all bad, there are
people who care and many of them live right here in Rhode Island.
we started I remember I was watching the news and half-an-hour turned
into an hour then an hour-and-a-half and it was all reports of abuses
and violence and crime and I thought about how to counterbalance all
that ugliness," said Marie Younkin-Waldman, the show's host. "I knew
that there was so much more happening than I saw on the news. There's a
lot of good out there, happening right here in Rhode Island. So the
underlying theme of every show became beauty, gentility and
More than 200 episodes later, "Tea with Marie" is
a public access juggernaut, avidly watched by a loyal coterie of fans
and routinely honored. Earlier this month, the show won two PEG
(Public, Education, Government) awards at a special ceremony at Hasbro
in Pawtucket and was nominated for eight others.
Marie" won a special recognition award for "Best Live Performance
Program" featuring The Prout High School Singers and "Best Series," the
most prestigious award given, for a segment that focused on the "Five
Most Inspirational Women" on the program in 2007. The women, Anne
Branch, Susi Franco, Antoinette Frederick, Pat Hastings and Betty
Kornitzer, will be brought together and honored in a new episode to be
aired on Dec. 28 at 3 p.m. on Cox cable channel 13. (Log on to www.teawithmarie.com to find out more about the program, including biographies of the women.)
of the "Tea with Marie" crew, whom Younkin-Waldman describes as
"indispensable," live in southern Rhode Island. They include longtime
collaborator, director and friend Judy Begin of Narragansett as well as
director Lesley Wooler of Narragansett, assistant producer Joan
Vessella of Jamestown, Marie Iacuele of Narragansett on camera, Judy
and Dave Frederick of Wakefield on camera and in the control room, Jane
Loffredio of East Greenwich and Pol Hermes of South Kingstown, both on
"The program has changed so much since we started it,"
said Younkin-Waldman, a Narragansett resident. "Technically we're much
better. I'm looser than I was. There's more of me being me on the set.
And I think we're doing more inspirational shows, with more substance
and depth. A lot of the shows we've done lately have become my
favorites and I think that's because we're talking about things I
really believe in and that touch people in a very heartfelt way."
programs have focused on Grow Smart Rhode Island, the role of Red Cross
in addressing the problem of homelessness, the emerging industry and
economy of aquaculture and dealing with breast cancer. Other
PEG-nominated episodes included "Best Children's" featuring All
Children's Theatre's "Madeline's Christmas;" "Best Health" on cochlear
implants with Eva Bero; "Educational" for a show about global warming
with Dr. Carl Storm; "Music/Arts" featuring Susi Franco; "Best
Spirituality" for a talk with Alan Seale, author and minister; "Best
Political/Community" addressing the small villages concept with Grow
Smart RI's Scott Wolf; "Best Cooperative Effort with Non Profit" for a
show about the R.I. State Police Museum; and "Best Talk/Variety"
featuring The Met School in Providence.
While "Tea with Marie"
often shoots on location, most of the studio shows are produced in
Lincoln, with a few made in Providence. It airs statewide on Cox cable
channel 13. Younkin-Waldman, who has suffered from lifelong hearing
loss, previously hosted a program on WSBE Channel 36 called "Able/Too,"
sponsored by the Governor's Commission on Disabilities.
born with a cord wrapped around my neck," she said. "I refused to wear
a hearing aid for a long time so I became a great lip-reader."
gave in when her youngest daughter was born, wearing a hearing aid then
returning to college to earn a degree at the University of Rhode
Island, a decision that she said "changed her life." Another
life-altering experience occurred when she had cochlear implant surgery
last May and was activated in June.
"Over the years my hearing
got worse," she said. "There was progressive nerve loss until I was in
the profound range for hearing loss. I couldn't use the phone for the
last few years. Now I feel like a different person. I look back and I
don't even know how I did the show in those early years. I'm fighting
not to take it for granted."
Younkin-Waldman said she'll
continue doing the show as long as she finds subjects close to her
heart that keep her interested and excited. And while it has evolved
over the years, the show will always be grounded in the philosophy of
"beauty, gentility and tranquility," and, of course, the ritual of tea.
was something that went back to my grandmother," Younkin-Waldman said.
"She had tea every afternoon precisely at 4 o'clock. And people would
stop by, drop whatever they were doing, sit down and join her for a few
minutes of pleasant conversation. It just seemed like the right way to
"Tea with Marie" airs on R.I. Statewide Cable TV Channel 13 every Friday at 3 p.m. For more information, log on to www.teawithmarie.com.
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