The world of birding, it is safe to say, is growing. Occasionally we read about a noted person having established a passion for birdwatching and/or related conservation. Normally we do not take a humorist literally, but David Letterman, in announcing his retirement, seemed to give birds and in particular a newfound interest in bird identification a special credit in realizing he wanted to do something else with his time now:
…Letterman told the audience that people have always asked him how long he would continue to host. His answer is usually, “When this show stops being fun — I will retire 10 years later.”
Continuing his tale, Letterman said that he wanted to share an anecdote: Last fall, he went fishing with his 10-year-old son, Harry, and during the outing, they saw a giant, crazy-looking bird. So when Letterman got into work that following Monday, he spent the entire day making calls to bird societies, e-mailing the photo to his outdoorsy friends, and launching a full-scale investigation to find out what type of bird they saw. (Bald eagle? Golden eagle?) When he got home, his wife, Regina asked how his day was, and he started telling her all about the bird. Then Regina said, “That’s great — who was on the show?”
Much laughter from the audience as Letterman recalled his answer: “I said, ‘I don’t remember.’”
The moral of the story: That’s when he started seriously thinking about how long he wanted to keep doing the show. “If you spend most of your day trying to ID birds,” Letterman explained, “Should you really be running a network television program?”
That’s when Letterman got to point, saying he had just called up CBS chairman Leslie Moonves before Thursday’s show and said, “Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, the network has been great, but I’m retiring.”
The audience, completely silent before breaking into nervous laughter, didn’t seem to know how to react as it became clear that Letterman wasn’t joking. “So we don’t have the timing of this precisely down, I think it will be at least a year or so,” he explained. “But sometime in the not too distant future – 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up and taking a hike.”…
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