A true American hero died of stomach cancer today at age 74. We know him best as Mister Rogers.

Fred Rogers embodied much of what is good in life. He was kind. He was comforting. And he created a neighborhood with room for everyone.

We had the privilege of interviewing Mister Rogers on the Motley Fool Radio Show in November of 2002, and two things about our time together stood out. First, the man we interviewed seemed to be the exact same Mister Rogers we grew up with. And second, those who talked with him immediately became part of his neighborhood.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood continues, in his legacy, as a place of safety, trust, friendship, guidance, and acceptance -- a place we all could use in uncertain times.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Intel's in Bed With Marriott

Centrino sounds like the name of a new Italian-inspired drink at Starbucks(Nasdaq: SBUX), but it's actually a major new product from Intel(Nasdaq: INTC) to be announced March 12.

For the first time, Intel will launch a bundle of products under one name, so it has a considerable stake in seeing Centrino succeed. The new product bundles a wireless local area network (WLAN) module, chipset, and processor for portable computers, which makes it possible to access high-speed wireless Internet over the new Wi-Fi wireless network service, formally called 802.11b technology.

Wi-Fi is proliferating before our eyes, although we can't see it. Starbucks has begun to offer Wi-Fi in some locations, and hotels are signing large Wi-Fi contracts. Hotel management reports that Wi-Fi is becoming a determining factor in where business customers stay.

Today, Marriott International(NYSE: MAR) announced a co-marketing agreement with Intel to promote new Wi-Fi services at 400 hotels in the United States, Europe, and Canada. Access in U.S. Marriott hotels will cost $2.95 for the first 15 minutes, and $0.25 each additional minute.

We expect Wi-Fi prices to steadily decline (many businesses already offer it without charge). Therefore, the related product producers, such as Intel, are likely to be superior investments over the connection and network suppliers. Intel hopes that Wi-Fi will lead to greater sales of portable computers -- and big sales of Centrino. Intel has Wi-Fi partnerships with AT&T(NYSE: T) and IBM(NYSE: IBM).

Quote of Note

"You know, saving and spending, holding back and letting go start very early in our lives. Stingy people have often been forced to give when they were very young, when they weren't ready. Generous people have often been really appreciated when they were very young. You know, I think it is so important to remember that every one has something to give." -- Mister Rogers

Overcoming Airsickness

There's not a whole lot of bravado in the airlines these days.

With a surplus of planes cleared off the runway, pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics have realized that job security and past paychecks are as likely to continue as an on-time afternoon landing at Newark or LaGuardia. And with higher fuel prices and the rumblings of war threatening to keep jetsetters closer to home, things can always get worse.

Concessions have been made to roll back salaries. They continue. Last night, United Airline's(NYSE: UAL) flight attendants union proposed a new contract that would save the troubled carrier $1 billion over the next six years. Earlier this month, AMR's(NYSE: AMR) American Airlines proposed $1.8 billion in cuts. The alternative? Bankruptcy, possibly.

A couple of years ago, airline employees were flying high. It was "coffee, tea, and prosperity," as salaries took off. As soon as United's pilots secured the industry's highest wages, Delta's(NYSE: DAL) ranks fired back with pay hikes that would cost the airline at least $2 billion more over the next four years. That was early in 2001, and we all know what happened a few months later.

Since 9/11, airlines have shaved their schedules by 20%, but it's not just a fear of flying. The weak economy has hit high-margin business travel hard. Regional players such as Southwest(NYSE: LUV) and JetBlue(Nasdaq: JBLU), which have been brought up on lean overhead compartments, have expanded to new airports, forcing the major carriers to match their low fares.

The problem is the major carriers weren't doing so hot, even as they yielded major concessions to employee unions. This has been like a vat of vinegar into an open wound. However, it's also been a cruel yet effective eye-opener.

If the industry's deficit-riddled financials find you reaching for the airsickness bag, you're not alone. However, low morale hasn't stopped the major carriers from planning or expanding leaner subsidiaries to take on the more successful Southwest and JetBlue models.

Unions may not like what this shift represents, in terms of salaries and staffing requirements, but it's clearly better than being parked off the tarmac.

Discussion Board of the Day: Cheap Air Fares

What do you think about flying the friendly skies? Will the industry's turbulence prompt lower or higher fares? Who has the best deals right now? All this and more -- in the Cheap Air Fares discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Not Your Average Joe

Joe Millionaire was worth millions to Fox Entertainment Group(NYSE: FOX). The "reality" show based on deceit, whose finale drew a Fox-record 40 million viewers, helped the network score a huge win in the just-completed February sweeps period.

Fox, 80.6% owned by News Corp(NYSE: NWS), took first place in the coveted 18-49 age group, marking the first time in three years that a network other than NBC(NYSE: GE) won that demographic.

Fox boasted blockbusters other than Joe Millionaire, as well: American Idol, for instance -- a show that's about nothing but singing tryouts, and the Michael Jackson "Interview They Wouldn't Show You," consisting of extra footage from an earlier ABC(NYSE: DIS) special.

CBS (NYSE: VIA) actually reeled in the most total viewers during sweeps, yet the headlines are treating Fox as the victor, underscoring the importance of the affluent 18-49 age demographic.

Because of this, don't expect the current craze of Survivor/Bachelorette-type reality shows to go away anytime soon. Don't even expect Joe Millionaire -- a seemingly one-shot concept -- to disappear. Fox says it will produce a sequel with "all the same values" as the original. "There will be men, there will be women, there will be romance, there will be money at stake," said network chairman Sandy Grushow.

What more could a couch potato ask for?

Shameless Plug: It Takes Two to Tango

So do a little dance before it's too late. This week is your last chance to get both Stocks 2003 and The Motley Fool Select in a bargain bundle. Don't miss our picks for 2003 and monthly analysis of undiscovered gems (and the occasional contrary view of well-known companies, too)!

Quick Takes

Paying attention? Shares of Noven Pharmaceuticals(Nasdaq: NOVN) vaulted over 25% on news that Shire Pharmaceuticals will license its drug release patch for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Shire will pay $25 million at closing, $50 million at FDA final approval, and subsequent milestones of up to $75 million -- big numbers for a company with $52 million in trailing 12-month revenue. Noven leads the patch (or transdermal) drug delivery market with four of the 11 FDA patch approvals in the last eight years.

Turn yourself in, and get a deal! Lucent(NYSE: LU) reported today that it inked an agreement in principle with the nation's securities regulators involving 1999 and 2000 revenue recognition. And, get this: no fine, no penalty, no restatement. Just the promise to go forth and not sin again. Lucent says it reported the problems upon discovery. Enjoy Jeff Fischer's latest comments on the ailing telecom.

Cable giant Comcast(Nasdaq: CMCSA) reported a narrower loss for Q4 and a 53% bump in revenue for its first quarter of combined operations with AT&T Broadband. The company said it expects 27% EBITDA growth in 2003.

Obvious department? Fed Chairman Greenspan called for better budget planning, noting the extreme financial pressures that baby boomers -- born from 1946 to 1964 -- will present to the federal purse as they begin to retire. Among his few suggestions was greater immigration, a way to boost the number of those working versus those drawing benefits.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com:

  • For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
  • Tom Jacobs shows how a company's familiarity breeds contempt -- for stockholders.
  • Get those debt collectors off your back. Here's how.
  • Sans Steve, the hip shoe retailer Steve Madden kicks up its heels thanks to super results.
  • The Drip Port's five years indicate good things come in pricey packages.
  • In Fool's School, the ins and outs of a cash flow statement.
  • Listen to your kids or risk missing a cry for help, in Hot Topics.

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim