By James J. Gillis. Newport Daily News staff.
June 28-29, 2008
My goal is to get people to turn obstacles into opportunities and turn problems into solutions,” she said.
Raskin broadcasts on WPRO and WEAN-FM (99.7) Sundays at noon and Mondays on the Internet at 11 a.m. (TalkZone) and at 2 p.m. (VoiceAmerica). Raskin recently interviewed writer Dan Buettner, author of “Blue Zones,” to discuss healthy aging.
In an hour-long chat, Raskin and Buettner discussed aging, particularly in residents of Okinawa, who commonly live long lives. Beuttner told Raskin that lifestyle is about 90 percent of the success, with genetics about 10 percent.
Raskin, with a telephone and laptop set up on her kitchen table in Newport, breezily chatted with Buettner, while taking cues from her producer by computer, telling her when to take a break or how many minutes remained in the show.
“He (Buettner) was a good guest,” Raskin said once the show ended. “I’d like to talk to him again. I usually don’t have a problem getting people to talk, not very often. Usually, they’re people who have written a book and are willing to talk.”
Raskin has been in the talk business for 25 years, first hosting a cable TV show in Massachusetts at a time when few women did. “I think I’ve always tried to be a trailblazer and a pioneer,” she said. “And things have grown so much.”
Raskin grew up in West Hartford, Conn., and worked in education as a Massachusetts guidance counselor, a sometimes-frustrating experience. “I found I was putting Band-Aids on children instead of getting to the root of their problems.”
She moved to Newport six months ago after living in North Carolina, where she hosted a talk show for 11 years. She moved to Rhode Island primarily because her brother Russell Raskin is a bankruptcy lawyer in Providence and her 91-year-old father, Dr. Melvin Raskin, lives in Warwick.
Divorced, Raskin has a grown daughter, Laura Shmishkiss, who lives in New York.
She had visited Newport in the past and decided it would be her new home. “It has so much to offer,” Raskin said. “You walk out the door and you have the movie theaters, galleries, all in walking distance. You don’t need to drive anywhere. And you can eat at a different restaurant every night. I just love it.”
Raskin is 61, and said she keeps fit by eating well and taking yoga classes. Her experience in talk radio has served her well in landing nationally known guests such as Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Mehmet Oz.
For her WPRO show, she’s tried to book more locally based guests, such as former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. several weeks ago and author Ann Hood on Sunday. “I feel truly gifted to be able to interview so many fascinating people,” Raskin said. “I’ve gained so much knowledge in interviewing people.”
Paul Giammarco, WPRO program director, said Raskin’s show is gaining in popularity. “Her guests are phenomenal and awe-inspiring, as is Patricia herself,” he wrote in an e-mail.
For Raskin, staying positive includes surrounding yourself with positive people, honoring ancestors, protecting relationships and believing in miracles big and small. In every experience, no matter how bad, she said there is something to learn even if people fail to see it at first.
“I’m not a goody-two shoes or a Pollyanna,” she said. “But I do think one of the keys to life is staying positive.”
With three talk shows, Raskin said she hopes her show will someday be syndicated. Health and everyday living are topics that are universal, she said, and she has a roster of potential guests.
As the author of two books, Raskin thinks there’s a third in her waiting to get out. She just needs to carve out the time. The overall goal, she said, is helping people to live healthier and more positive lives.
“Everyone can use a coach, I think. Tiger Woods is fantastic. But even he needs coaching,” she said.