Mr. Tempone’s Story Goes National, NPR-Style


Brianna Yang

On May 2, 2014, Latin’s very own Frank Tempone was featured in NPR’s StoryCorps with a moving story about leaving his family for a few years to recover from depression. He and his son, Jack, recorded a forty-seven minute conversation, three minutes of which were featured on NPR, about the difficulties their family had to face during that time.

“How [the narrative] got on NPR is a long story,” recounts Mr. Tempone. After attending a podcasting workshop at the Old Town School of Folk Music last year, he had signed up for a chance to record a story for StoryCorps at WBEZ in Chicago and decided to bring his son to discuss the adjustments made over the last few years. Mr. Tempone comments, “[Jack] and I sat really close during the interview. We smiled and laughed and shed a lot of tears. We hugged afterward. It was a beautiful experience for us.” That version was aired by WBEZ locally in December 2013, and in April 2014, NPR contacted Mr. Tempone with a request to air the story nationally. Mr. Tempone explained, “A different producer worked with it, edited a different segment of the story, and after interviewing with them a few times, they aired it on May 2.” However, because only three minutes of the forty-seven minute conversation aired, he remarks, “There was no possible way they could do the interview justice. Jack and I experienced a wide range of emotion, and that wasn’t captured on the segment.”

Although he was instructed not to read the comments on the story by NPR, Mr. Tempone decided that he wanted to know the response that other people had towards his story. “So I read the comments, and I had a terrible couple of days,” he notes. “There was a lot of hatred and ridicule in those words, and it hurt me for a while. I walked around in a daze, as if I’d been knocked silly. Part of my reaction, though, comes from the guilt I felt — the payback I felt like was coming to me because of what I chose to do five years ago. A reaction to any story, whether it comes from a paperback book or plays over the airwaves, says as much about the reader and listener as it does about the person telling the story — in fact I think more so.”

Mr. Tempone received positive feedback from his coworkers, friends and family. He remembers his father calling him after hearing the story, and he adds, “I could tell he was broken up by not only the story, but the entire context of everything he knew I went through in my life. He said he was proud of me.”

Mr. Tempone does not believe that this interview has changed his relationships with his family. “I’ve always loved them, and I know they’ve always loved me. I’m also strong in my commitment to make sure my sons feel like their father loves them and won’t leave again. I’m committed to making them feel safe about me again,” he comments. Mr. Tempone expressed his appreciation for the strength of his wife, who took care of their sons while Mr. Tempone was gone. He states, “She is the strongest person I’ve ever known, and if it weren’t for her, I would have certainly lost everything.”

The link to the story can be found here: