Press & Stuff

Evan and Fritz

October 2009

New girlfriend 2008











Fritz Wetherbee has a goal of publishing 1,000 stories, and so far he’s at about 600. He’ll read from his new book, “In Good Company,” Saturday at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough at 11 a.m.

Photo by fritzwetherbee.com

BOOK SIGNING

Fritz on his way to 1,000 stories

New Hampshire institution Fritz Wetherbee is well on his way to reaching a storytelling milestone

By Dave Eisenstadter

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Fritz Wetherbee, a man whose name has become synonymous with New Hampshire storytelling, will come to the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough on Saturday to discuss his latest book, “Fritz Wetherbee: In Good Company.”

Among Wetherbee’s many talents are windsurfing, stone masonry, cinematography, teaching, disc-jockey work and bus driving, but the work he is best known for in New Hampshire is his work with New Hampshire Chronicle as a storyteller and historian on WMUR TV-9, which he has done since 2000.

Several of the stories from “Chronicle,” originally told in Wetherbee’s distinctive voice in view of his distinctive bow ties, are collected in “In Good Company,” which is the fifth such collection.

“I hope to get 1,000 stories published, stories about nothing but New Hampshire,” Wetherbee says.

When Wetherbee told his publisher, George Geers of Plaidswede Publishing, about this goal, Geers responded, “Yes, of course.” With this book, the number is more than 600.

The stories fill up no more than one or two pages apiece. They are divided into four sections, called The Stories, The Towns, The People and, finally, a section about Wetherbee’s own family called The Wetherbees.

Running the gamut of New Hampshire’s history, the stories date from pre-Revolutionary times.

For Wetherbee, there are only four ways to tell a story, and he sticks to them.
1) Pose a problem, solve it, then provide a dénouement.
2) An odyssey, in which a character starts somewhere, goes off and has an adventure, then returns to the starting point.
3) A process, which takes the reader from raw components to a finished product — lumber to furniture, or fruit and flour to pie.
4) “The Paul Harvey way,” in which the listener is kept in the dark until the last line, when it is revealed who or what the story is really about — “...and then that boy grew up to be Ronald Reagan.”

Wetherbee is no stranger to the Monadnock region; he got his start in journalism at the Monadnock Ledger in 1962. He had been living in New York, trying to make it as a “beatnik” poet, but moved back to New Hampshire, where he was born, to start a family.

Hired to sell ads, Wetherbee was sent to the scene of a drowning when Ledger publisher Dick Noyes could not find anyone else.

“I wrote a color piece and got a ton of mail from the community,” Wetherbee says. “He [Noyes] looked at it and said, ‘You don’t want to sell ads; you want to be a reporter.’”
Wetherbee, who admits he could not even spell, went on to take courses in journalism at Keene State College, where he learned under Bob Lyle, one of the best journalists he ever met.

“In effect, I learned the trade before they caught up with me,” Wetherbee says.
Now, at 73, Wetherbee still tries to stay on top of journalistic endeavors. He works with computers and has his own Web site at www.fritzwetherbee.com. He tells five stories per week on New Hampshire Chronicle, even when he thinks he has told every story there is to tell.

“I keep my eyes open all the time,” Wetherbee says. “I buy old magazines and town histories and I go to libraries.”

Returning to Peterborough is a trip down memory lane for Wetherbee, who was a member of the town band in 1951.

“It’s funny how much of it has changed and how much of it remains the same,” he says.
The winner of several awards, including multiple “New England Emmys,” Wetherbee has achieved fame for his voice-over work on Ken Burns film “The Making of Baseball,” “The Works of Robert Frost” and a voice-over at the former site of the Old Man in the Mountain — Franconia Notch Visitor’s Center.

Wetherbee will be at Toadstool Bookshop at 11 a.m. Saturday.

 

November 9, 2009