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April 2009


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Erik Reece’s first book, LostMountain, was the backbone for Bob’s documentary about mountain top removal coal mining. Now Reece has written his second book, An American Gospel: On Family, History and the Kingdom of God. Reece, the son and grandson of fire-and-brimstone Baptist preachers, began searching for an alternative to the Puritan reading of the Gospels after he could no longer square Christianity’s “easy and ultimately unholy alliance with industrialism, consumerism, and corporatism.” Then, Bob speaks with sports columnist Dave Zirin about the NCAA basketball final four and the start of a new baseball season.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The day after his inauguration, President Obama signed an order to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In recent years, Guantanamo Bay has become a lighting rod for controversy, symbolizing either freedoms protected or freedoms robbed. The crew for the National Geographic Television film, Inside Guantanamo was allowed unprecedented access inside the camp, and Bob talks with director Bonni Cohen and coordinating producer Kathryn Wallace about Guantanamo’s day-to-day operations, as well as what closing this facility will mean to the U.S. and the detainees. Then, Bob visits with Steve Winick and Nancy Groce from the National Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. This time, they’ve brought songs from the archive about wealth, cash, and being broke.


Friday, April 3, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk live about the latest news from the capital and beyond. Then, in July 2005, Scott Hicks began filming a documentary about Philip Glass to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2007. Over the next 18 months, Hicks had unprecedented access to the composer, following him across three continents – from his annual ride on the Coney Island “Cyclone” to the world premiere of his new opera in Germany to a didgeridoo concert in Australia. On April 8th, GLASS: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts premieres nationally on the PBS show American Masters.Hicks is best known for writing and directing Shine, a film about the pianist David Helfgott starring Geoffrey Rush. He’s also the director of the upcoming Clive Owens movieThe Boys Are Back in Town.


Monday, April 6, 2009

The Education Trust is dedicated to closing the achievement gap that separates low-income and minority students from other students. Kati Haycock is the president of that non-profit organization and as part of our on-going series on education reform; she discusses how the stimulus money can be used to address the challenges facing all students. Then, Newsweek columnist Ellis Cose’s new public radio series, Against the Odds, focuses on stories of individuals who, despite enduring terrible events, have made positive contributions to the world. The first of the four hour-long programs is Hope on a Pile of Bones, and examines how the small country of Rwanda is pulling itself back together after the 1994 genocide.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Since 1992, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has celebrated the birth and ideals of its namesake by recognizing those who in the past year forgot Mr. Jefferson’s admonition that freedom of speech “cannot be limited without being lost.” Bob talks to the Director of the Center, Bob O’Neil, about The Jefferson Muzzles which will be announced today. Then, Duke Law professor Jedediah Purdy’s most recent book, A Tolerable Anarchy, examines the meaning of American freedom.Purdy asks questions about that guiding American principle of freedom – questions like: does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? And can a nation of individualists also be a community of citizens?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

As the Discovery channel’s hit show Mythbusters starts its seventh season, scientists and hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage talk with Bob about the hard work of using science to confirm or expose popular myths. Then, a look at the rest of the film world with our resident entertainment critic David Kipen.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Appalachia’s mountains are some of the oldest in the world and contain one of earth’s most diverse ecosystems. The region’s people, and the mountains themselves, are exploited by economic interests from outside the area. Bob talks with filmmaker Jamie Ross, who directed and co-wrote Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People. The four-part PBS documentary on the history of the region premieres today. Next, co-directors Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden talks about the new film Sugar. It’s about a Dominican baseball prospect trying to make his way to the big leagues.


Friday, April 10, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk live about the latest news from the capital and beyond. Then, Evan Wright was embedded with the Marines for the first forty days of the Iraq War and those reports for Rolling Stone were made into a dramatic HBO miniseries called Generation Kill. Wright’s knack for documenting human nature and power struggles didn’t start there. He’s written for Hustler and Vanity Fair and his latest book, Hella Nation, draws on detailed observations of the underbelly of American culture. Wright tells the stories of a Russian immigrant searching for America’s gangster dream, skinheads attending the Aryan Nations World Congress, and a rising star of the radical right as he makes a pro-war documentary, just to name a few.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Bob talks with Melanie Trottman who reports on workplace issues for The Wall Street Journal. She and Bob talk about EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier to unionize workplaces. Next, listing Leonardo da Vinci’s roles sounds like the textbook definition of a Renaissance man: painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, engineer, musician, writer, mathematician and inventor. Da Vinci left behind hundreds of notebooks filled with ideas and inventions, many of them never before tested. Discovery Channel’s Doing DaVinci builds some of da Vinci’s most ambitious designs, testing how they stand up in reality, and Bob talks with modern day Renaissance man and Doing DaVinci consultant Dr. Jonathan Pevsner, a da Vinci expert, author, and faculty member of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

There are two things about Newshour anchor Jim Lehrer that most people don’t know: he collects buses and he’s an accomplished novelist. His 19th novel, Oh, Johnny, is published this month. Bob and Lehrer talk news, buses and writing fiction. Then, Franz Wisner was on this program once before to talk his book Honeymoon With My Brother. After being left at the altar, Wisner went ahead with the honeymoon sans fiancé. The Wisner brother “honeymoon” lasted two years and took them to 53 countries. Now Wisner is back with a follow-up, How the World Makes Love.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The $160 million in bonuses paid to AIG employees inspired anger from the Oval Office to Main Street. But the $3.6 billion in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch workers oddly has not - nor has the $210 million paid to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac employees. Washington Post reporter Amit Paley discusses who’s getting what of the bailout funds - and why some lawmakers are perplexed by the complicated rules related to executive compensation during this financial crisis. Then, David Benioff never pictured himself as a screenwriter, but when his novel The 25th Hour was optioned for a film, he decided that no other scriptwriter could do the book justice. Since then, Benioff has been writing scripts for Hollywood blockbusters like Troy and the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Benioff has grown into a top writer for the big screen but he never abandoned his literary roots. His latest novel, City of Thieves, has just been released in paperback. The story follows two prisoners who are sent on an impossible quest in the most desperate of circumstances: the Siege of Leningrad, 1942.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

At the end of 2006, more than 1 million skilled immigrant professionals — engineers, scientists, doctors, researchers — and their families were waiting for permanent resident visas. Only 120,000 visas are given out every year. A new study shows that instead of continuing to wait, the immigrants are returning home. Bob talked with Vivek Wadhwa, the researcher behind the study. He explains what’s causing the reverse brain drain and why it matters to the US economy. Then, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was hated in his native New York, loved in Los Angeles and became the most notorious baseball owner in sports history. Michael D’Antonio’s new biography is called Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O’Malley, Baseball’s Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles.


Friday, April 17, 2009

David Broder is away, so Joe Madison joins Bob talk politics. Next, French film Paris 36 is, in part, about a small Parisian theater in 1936. But the story really centers on the lives of the men and women who kept their theater running as France headed towards war. Bob talks with director Christophe Barratier (The Chorus) and new-comer actress Nora Arnezeder. Finally, Bob talks sports with our sports guy, Dave Zirin.



Monday, April 20, 2009

In the 1st Century BC, Rome had survived two civil wars and successfully fended off a fair share of trouble makers: Gallic invaders, Etruscan bandits, Hannibal and his elephants. But in the summer of 73 BC, the world’s only superpower faced its gravest threat: a runaway slave named Spartacus. What began as a prison escape by a few dozen men armed with meat cleavers turned into a revolt of 60,000 slaves. Classics professor Barry Strauss says that while Spartacus has become the stuff of legend, the true story of the Thracian gladiator is much more impressive. He writes about it in The Spartacus War. Next, the musical A Chorus Line is still one of Broadway’s most popular and longest running shows, and the new documentary Every Little Step reveals the lives of its hard-working performers. Directors Adam Del Deo and James Stern filmed the dancers who went through the grueling process of auditioning for the musical’s 2006 revival. Every Little Step is now open in Los Angeles and New York.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, MartinGoldsmith, host of Sirius XM’s Symphony Hall, talks about the musicians and composers who were imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp Terezin. Then, Bob revisits his conversation with Nobel Peace Prize winner, author, activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

William Julius Wilson a prominent sociologist who has studied race for the last quarter-century. He has written several extremely influential books on the subject, including The Declining Significance of Race, The Truly Disadvantaged, and When Work Disappears. He is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” a National Medal of Science winner, and one of Time’s “25 Most Influential People in America.” His latest book is titled More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City. Then, after parting ways with many record labels over her career, Jill Sobule decided that next time, she’d make her own record, on her own label. To raise the necessary funds, she asked her fans for contributions. A donation of 50 dollars got you an advanced copy of the CD. The three fans who pledged five thousand dollars to the cause got a personal concert from Sobule. At the ten thousand dollar level, one fan got to sing on the album. Jill Sobule joins Bob to talk about “California Years” – her new fan-funded album.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Critic Joe Queenan calls himself a “fulltime son of a bit**.” No one in American culture is immune from his scathing observations — not Richard Dreyfuss, not Candice Bergen, not even Dan Quayle. Now he’s set his sights on the life of a poor young man, the son of an alcoholic high school dropout, who grew up in a Philadelphia housing project: himself. Queenan explains his life in a memoir, called Closing Time.


Friday, April 24, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk about the latest news from the capital and beyond. Then, just in time for Earth Day, co-directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield’s documentary Earth follows the migration paths of three animal families as they journey through very different and challenging environments. Shot in conjunction with the BBC’s Planet EarthAnthony DeCurtis about Love Filling Station, the new CD from Jesse Winchester. series, this full-length feature film offers a remarkable view of our planet’s natural world. Then, Bob talks with music reviewer


Monday, April 27, 2009

Pete Seeger wrote or co-wrote many of our most iconic folk songs. Bob talked with him last year to coincide with the airing of his American Masters episode on PBS. Now, there’s a new set of his music being released. Rainbow Race / Now / Young Vs. Old includes 41 tracks from three of his finest albums, 1968’s Now, 1969’s Young Vs. Old and 1971’s Rainbow Race along with a previously banned 1970 single, I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag, in its first ever official release. Pete Seeger turns 90 on May 3rd.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

History is bound to repeat itself, and the world’s financial history is no different. In False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World, Financial Times world trade editor Alan Beattie explains how history can teach us how to pull out of our current economic woes. Then, in the mid-1920s, thousands of Jewish immigrant garment workers moved out of Manhattan ghettos by pooling their resources to build four cooperative apartment complexes in the Bronx. Even though most were first generation and Communists, the strength of that community helped propel them socially and economically. Producer Michal Goldman discusses the families and the challenges they faced, which are featured in her documentary, At Home in Utopia which airs today on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Andrew Bacevich is a unique observer of American politics. He is a retired Army colonel, a self-described conservative Catholic, a history professor at Boston University and the father of a soldier who was killed while fighting in Iraq. Bob talks with Bacevich about the direction the country should be heading under a new administration. His book is called The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, has just been released in paperback. Then, we remember Emmy Award-winning actress Bea Arthur. Bob talked to Arthur in 2005 about Maude, The Golden Girls and her work on her one-woman show. She died April 25th at the age of 86.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mike Tyson was boxing’s biggest star in the 1980s. He was dominant in the ring, but the same inner-demons that propelled Tyson’s ferocity eventually led to his downfall. After serving time in prison and falling into bankruptcy, Mike Tyson contritely tells his own story in the new documentary, Tyson. Bob speak with director James Toback about Mike Tyson and his fascinating life journey. It’s now in limited release. Then, to celebrate Willie Nelson’s 76th birthday, we bring back Bob’s interview with biographer Joe Nick Patoski (pah-TAH-skee). He has spent nearly his entire career covering the Red Headed Stranger and getting some really good stories along the way. Patoski’s biography is called Willie Nelson: An Epic Life.