How would "Mister Rogers" describe himself? Fred Rogers, familiar to millions of viewers of his long-running public TV program, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, knew the question was coming Friday at a National Press Club lunch.
"It's a tough question, and I've thought a lot about it," he replied with a grin. "I think maybe it might be Albert Schweitzer and Arsenio Hall."
In his speech, Rogers urged people to be better listeners, to "try to understand what they've heard and then respond with all the creativity and care that their life has allowed them to develop."
In reply to questions from the audience of journalists and their small children, Rogers said he is concerned that much of what children see on television is "very scary."
He said parents should always sit with their children to interpret "the horrendous stuff" they see on the news.
In his 35 years in children's television, Rogers said the "outsides of children's lives have changed a lot" but he said they are the same inside.
Like adults, he said, children need to be assured that they are lovable, capable of loving others and respected for who they are.