Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Radarsite in the Newburyport Daily News

Local blogger Roger Gardner sits at his computer at his home on Charles Street in Newburyport. His blog, Radarsite, has received national attention, including recognition from President Bush. Ben Laing/Staff photo [click to enlarge]

Local historian's political blog is on the international radar
By Katie Curley Staff writer

NEWBURYPORT — Roger Gardner often feels like he is living a secret life.

From his apartment at the James Steam Mill, what once started as a small blog dedicated to politics and shedding light on the cultural aspects tied to the War on Terror, has caught the attention of government officials from around the world. Readers include President George W. Bush, top media outlets and casual readers.

"This has been consuming my life for over a year now," said Gardner, the father of three grown sons and seven grandchildren. "It's not really about politics but about culture."

Though battling what doctors tell him is likely a terminal cancer, the 71-year-old Gardner is light-hearted as he talks of his blog, "Radarsite," and Americans' understanding of the war and Muslim religion. And while he says his critics call him "bitter" and "cynical," it is untrue, he says — he is just an American speaking out for America.

"September 11 had an effect on me that was huge," Gardner said. "Within a few weeks of listening to the reports and opinions and hearing about Islam, the Koran and the Middle East, I realized I was willfully ignorant. I decided to study the Muslim religion, read the Koran and the great deal of supportive literature and not just believe, like everyone else, what was being told about Islam."

In the weeks and months that followed, Gardner, a veteran of the Cold War, was moved by the anti-American sentiments that spread throughout the United States. The belief in conspiracy theories and that the terrorist attacks were the fault of the country moved him to comment on various articles and come up with ideas for his own writings.

"The entries mainly come in anger and in response to other people's comments on stories, especially negative to the U.S.," Gardner said. "The Western culture is threatened, and people don't know it because the mainstream media doesn't talk about it."

The road to creator and publisher of Radarsite was unexpected at best, said Gardner, as he chronicled his early years living a "bohemian" lifestyle in Greenwich Village, N.Y. "I was a knee-jerk liberal," Gardner said. "I couldn't get any more anti-establishment, but that was the pond I swam in."

The Philadelphia-area native dropped out of high school before graduation and opted to go to art school rather than college. Instead, he read. And read.

After doing odd jobs most of his life, some of which included taxi driver and real estate agent and being married and divorced twice, Gardner came to Newburyport. He was the manager of Ten Center Street in Newburyport until his retirement in 2001.

"For 35 years I studied history really obsessively," Gardner said. "I tested myself, made a program, charts and graphs and read over 600 books on the Roman Empire and corresponded with well-known historians."

Radarsite will turn one year old this week and mark a change from 10 readers to more than 10,000 readers a day.

In addition, blog entries Gardner has penned have ended up in major publications and on other blogs throughout the world, catching the attention of universities in the Middle East as well as the Pakistan Spectator.

"It's really encouraging. The blog isn't about me but about America," Gardner said. "I've studied the country long enough to know we are the finest in the world and more generous and thoughtful than any else. There are countries which don't treat their allies like we treat our enemies."

His passion for the country he served he said was the exact reason he contacted the State Department recently after receiving an offer to be the North American correspondent for the Pakistani Spectator newspaper.

"I contacted the State Department and told them I didn't want to get in over my head or say something conflicting with American policy," Gardner said, noting his lack of credentials and that he is just exercising his First Amendment rights. "Turns out they had been following the site almost every week for a year and were watching my back. It made me proud that they are watching and are on the ball."

But Gardner now has a new battle to fight, as he was diagnosed with leukemia last month and was originally given two weeks to live. His prognosis was recently extended to three to nine months, but Gardner's energy has suffered, and he is finding he is unable to post as he had been. His diagnosis caught the attention of President Bush, who wrote a letter encouraging him during this difficult time.

"The letter signed by President Bush and Laura Bush said their thoughts and prayers were with me and that my strength and determination demonstrate the American spirit," Gardner said. "I just feel fortunate I have been able to experience all this, for somebody living on Social Security with no car but a red scooter, I feel very fortunate. At 71, I'm having the time of my life. I'm glad I lived long enough for this."

Gardner has also heard anecdotes about his articles hanging on office walls of the Pentagon, colleges and universities, and the House of Representatives.
"The average American has a voice and a place in the world," Gardner said. "Democrats and Republicans come and go, but America is what I love."


  1. God bless you Roger...

    Its good to see and know that many around the World reach a cross roads of a wide range of information when they reach your site.

    It is what it says it is 'Radarsite'.

    Happy Christmas brother and friend to you and your family, and may 2009 be a fulfilling one for you all and may you reach well into 2010 and beyond 'God willing'.

    Death has no hold over those chosen by Christ.

    Lionheart of England

  2. p.s its good to put a face to the voice :)

  3. Finally a face to put on to the words.

    "Radarsite" is my gold-star standard (and a very high one to match). I am proud to be a contributor here and proud to call you my friend.

    Have a great day tomorrow.

  4. Great to see you Roger! (also a face to the telephone voice, lol).
    Delighted to read you have such a great following, and well deserved too.
    God Bless ya Roger. P

  5. Well done Roger...may God bless

  6. Good on ya Roger. Glad to hear this news.

    Wishing you well in your battles, especially your current one. May your Christmas be a happy and blessed.

  7. Roger,

    I started blogging in March of this year. It wasn’t long before Maggie Thornton approached me through the comments section of my blog. Maggie became a blogging friend and because of her I learned about Radarsite.

    I, like so many, rely on your blog for your “gut-check” impressions on the events unfolding in a world that seems to have lost its way. Your clarion call to patriotism and, above all, a return to sanity and decency have served as a beacon for my writings.

    When I learned of your latest battle, I felt at once despair and sorrow. The reprieve you got shortly thereafter was spiritually uplifting for everyone including myself.

    Roger, the recognition you received from President Bush and, most recently from the Newbury Port News, is well-deserved. I could not be more proud. I am honored to count you as a friend and my prayers for your strength and a victory in your battle against leukemia are unceasing.

    God has blessed you with many talents, many friends and many opportunities. You are a bright light in so many lives.

    Remember that love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.

    May your Christmas be merry and bright.

    P. S. I thoroughly enjoyed our phone call this evening. Take care my friend.

  8. God bless and care for you dear Roger! You have done much for us all and I trust you a very happy Christmas!
    I am honored to have had a small bit of communication with you and to have been able to read your posts.

  9. Lionheart & No Sheeple said it best; I stand on their shoulders. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a healthy new year to you, my friend.

    Radar Site is a beacon of truth for the world.

  10. Congrats Roger,

    Sit back and have a Merry Christmas.


  11. Excellent write up, Roger. And, well deserved.

    Congratulations, buddie. As we said in the Army, Well Done.

  12. Congratulations on your success! You have broken through the information world controlled by the "main-stream media!"

    I join all who wish and pray for you to continue on your path.

  13. Roger,

    No blogger I know deserves the accolades of this article and the kudos nationally more than you. You have a passion for this country unparalleled in what I read each day on the blogosphere. I want to wish you all of the best in 2009 - somehow I think you won't lack for material next year.

    Thanks for making us all more aware, for making us realize our blessings and for making us know the battle has been waged.

  14. Roger, I pictured you short and stout - funny how we do that.

    You have a great blog; it is hard to believe it is only a year old. You are just one man making a difference in this world - you've touched the hearts of many. God Bless

  15. Rodger, Shalom! Frankly, I was shocked ... SHOCKED ... when reading that article. To read that you've only been blogging for a year! I would have thought that you've been writing considerably longer than that!


  16. Roger, you get in the newspaper and my modem is down!!!!

    What a wonderful tribute to you my friend. Congratulations on all these many accomplishments. (I had no idea that your blog was only now a year old. How did I miss that????)

    You are a sincere and achingly honest voice, Roger...railing against a darkness that seems to know no bounds.

    You have sounded the shofar. The world is listening. Now we will also wait, while you fight this other battle and regain your strength. I'm praying God's blessings for you.