Anita and Mickey, or . . .

Concord's literary Siskel and Roeper

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Good things come in pairs. Bert and Ernie. Peanut butter and jelly. Ashton and Demi. Anita Hickey and Mickey Russo.

If you don’t already know Anita and Mickey, you’ll have the chance to get to know them on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. when the fifth season of “Book Swap Café” begins on Concord TV Channel 22.

The “Book Swap Café” is a 30-minute show in which co-hosts Mickey and Anita review a book and then interview a New England author. Anita, who is also the show’s producer, said one of the reasons she started the show was to promote literacy by informing the community about all the great books out there.

“I like doing creative things and thought this [producing the show] would be a rewarding way to give back to the wonderful community that I grew up in,” Anita said.

“When I graduated from high school, I wanted to go into broadcasting, but like a lot of a women my age we had to go to work due to lack of money for education,” she added. “I was always fascinated by the fact that you can look into a TV camera and it can send that picture into homes across America and now the world.”

Anita is now 70, which just goes to show that it’s never too late to check off a big item like “produce my own show” from life’s to-do list.

However, just an interest in broadcasting wasn’t enough to get the show rolling – she needed to come up with an idea, too. Anita, a frequent visitor of the Corner View Restaurant, became friendly with one of the restaurant’s waitresses, Mickey, through their shared passion of books. When Anita visited the restaurant, the two told each other about the books they were reading and eventually swapped books. One day, something clicked with Anita, and the “Book Swap Café” was born. Naturally, Anita asked fellow bookworm, Mickey, to be her co-host.

Since the ladies are Concord residents, they are able to shoot their show at Concord TV’s studio located inside of Concord High School. The show’s crew is made up of all volunteers (Anita and Mickey included) who take time out of their schedules the first Sunday of each month to tape two shows – one airs the first half of the month, the other airs the second half.
The team is made up of director Stan Sokol, character generator Lucilla Sokol (all the data on the show is entered by Lucilla), sub-host Nora LeDuc (Nora co-hosts with Anita when Mickey can’t make it and has also starred as a guest author) and the camera crew – Bob Brodeur and Mike Laurent. Mike replaced Jennifer Sanborn, who was with the show for three years. Even though she’s gone, Anita still wanted to make sure Jennifer got credit for her work (because that’s the type of person Anita is.) Anita’s late husband, Jack, also filmed for two years before he passed away.

If the heart-warming tale behind “Book Swap Café” hasn’t convinced you to watch, perhaps some of the upcoming guest authors will. On the Oct. 30 episode, Glenn K. Currie, author of “In the Cat’s Eye” will chat it up with Anita and Mickey. Also this season, you’ll see mystery writer Cindy Davis followed by best-selling authors Archer Mayor and Carla Neggers.

Each show airs on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 7 a.m., Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and one other time during the week and is aired for two weeks. If you happen to be on the road, you may still be able to catch it outside of Concord. Other New Hampshire communities that air the show are Bedford, Manchester, Keene, Raymond, Goffstown and Newmarket. Thanks to PegMedia.org, a media transfer site for public, educational and government community television stations, people in parts of California, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas and Maine can watch Anita and Mickey, too. Pretty cool, huh?

For more information about how you can become as famous as the “Book Swap Café” ladies, call Concord TV at 226-8872 or visit yourconcordtv.org.

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