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April 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Financial gurus like Suze Orman and Jim Cramer have no shortage of advice — and products — for their followers.  In her new book Pound Foolish, journalist and former financial columnist Helaine Olen calls out some of the biggest names in the business to expose the myths, contradictions and outright lies pedaled by the personal finance industry.  Then, in honor of April Fool’s Day and to celebrate Alfred E. Neuman’s 12th birthday (again!), MADmagazine’s editor-in-chief John Ficarra talks with Bob about Newman’s place in pop culture, MADs efforts to corrupt the minds of young children, and his nearly 30 years with the magazine.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Today we remember Phil Ramone, the legendary music producer who worked with everyone from Stan Getz to Madonna.  He produced the celebrated Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles duets albums, won over a dozen Grammys, and had over 60 platinum records to his name.  Ramone was one of the most influential talents in modern popular music.  He died this weekend at age 79.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Former crime reporter Brad Parks took a buyout from the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger in 2008 to become a full time crime fiction author. His reporting informs his novels, and his latest, The Good Cop, deals with “the iron pipeline” - or I-95 - and how illegal guns end up on the streets of cities like Newark, where it’s incredibly difficult to legally obtain a gun.  Then, writer James Conoway’s new novel, Nose, takes readers deep into the cloistered wine world of California’s Napa Valley.  Conoway is the author of The Big Easy, the nonfiction bestseller Napa: The Story of an American Eden, and others.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

During her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton logged nearly a million miles hopscotching across the globe. For 300,000 of those miles, Kim Ghattas was along for the ride.  She’s a reporter for the BBC and has now written an inside account of Clinton’s time as Secretary of State titled The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, while exploring a remote cave in Eastern Europe in 1993, spelunker Christopher Nicola made an unusual discovery: a chamber that contained clear evidence that 20th-century people had once lived there.  For more than a decade Nicola searched for an explanation and finally found one — 30 members of two families had escaped to the cave at the beginning of World War II, just as Hitler’s army was invading Poland.  A new documentary titled No Place on Earth tells the story of the Stermer and the Wexler families who lived in the cave for 511 days. Bob speaks with filmmaker Janet Tobias and family member Sonya Dodyk who was just a little girl when she lived in the cave with her family.  In 2010, Dodyk and four other survivors returned to the site with their grandchildren.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Shin Dong-hyuk’s first memory was an execution.  Ten years later, Shin watched his mother be hanged and his brother shot, both executed for attempting to escape.  Now 29 years old, Shin’s life is documented in Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.  Author Blaine Harden is a reporter for PBS Frontline and a contributor to The Economist.  He joins Bob to discuss Shin, the only person known to be born, raised and escaped from a North Korean prison camp. Then, award-winning singer-songwriter Dido joins Bob to discuss her first album in five years Girl Who Got Away.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Everyone’s favorite astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson joins Bob to talk about all-things-science. His book, Space Chronicles is now out in paperback. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bob Thompson, a longtime feature writer for the Washington Post, has spent the past several years tracing the footsteps of Davy Crockett. The result is a book titled Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier. Thompson explores the myth of Crocket and reveals, among other things, that the coon-capped frontiersman wasn’t born on a mountain top at all.  Then, Jazz musician Jaimeo Brown joins Bob to discuss his debut album Transcendence.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dominican author Julia Alvarez has been called “ the voice of personal and political history as it is now.” She’s written 19 books, teaches at Middlebury College, and operates an organic coffee farm/literacy arts center in her beloved Dominican Republic. She talks to Bob about her work, and her latest book A Wedding in Haiti. Then; initially, infertility was the only grounds for divorce in Ancient Rome. But later laws provided three more reasons: cheating, excessive wine consumption, and making copies of the house keys.  Vicki Leon shares this and other true facts about lust, love, and longing in the ancient world from her book, The Joy of Sexus.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, thanks to the centuries of bad press as well as the current hit Showtime series The Borgias, the Borgia name is synonymous with duplicity and immorality— a family that would go to any lengths to retain their power.  But historian G.J. Meyer challenges what we know about this Italian papal family in his new book The Borgias: A Hidden History.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Bill Veeck was born into baseball. His sportswriter father became president of the Chicago Cubs, and Bill later worked for owner Phil Wrigley, rebuilding Wrigley Field to achieve the famed ambience that exists today.  In his late twenties, he bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers.  He later bought the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and the Chicago White Sox.  In 1947, Veeck signed Larry Doby, the American League’s first black player.  A year later, he signed the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who helped win the 1948 World Series—Cleveland’s last championship to this day. Bob talks to Paul Dickson about his book Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.  It’s now out in paperback.  Then, Bob talks with Joe Boyd about a new CD tribute to the music of Nick Drake. Drake was a British folk musician who died in 1974 after recording only three albums. Boyd was the producer of Drake’s first two records and also produced this new CD of covers titled Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Writer Meg Wolitzer’s new novel, The Interestings, follows the lives and relationships of six teenagers who met at a summer camp for the arts in 1974.  Wolitzer is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Ten-Year Nap, as well as a number of other novels.  Then, National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award winner Jess Walter’s novel, Beautiful Ruins, examines our contemporary obsession with celebrity.  This epic tale spans 50 years, beginning in Italy with a young American actress in the legendary Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton behemoth Cleopatra.  It’s now out in paperback.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

 Since Quincy Jones discovered him fifty years ago; Grammy-winning pianist Bob James had forged a diverse and successful career in music. Fans of 1970s television will remember the theme to Taxi, Angela, a Bob James composition. One group who clearly appreciated James’ music was the seminal rap trio Run DMC who sampled James’ cover of Paul Simon’s Take Me to the Mardi Gras, introducing James to a whole new generation of fans. In 1990, James began a group named Fourplay, with whom he has recorded a dozen albums. Their latest is titled “Esprit De Four” and the band will tour throughout the spring.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

 For a decade now, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has celebrated the ideals of its namesake by recognizing those who, in the past year, forgot or disregarded Mr. Jefferson’s admonition that freedom of speech ‘cannot be limited without being lost.’ Announced on or near April 13 — the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson (this year it will be on the 11th)— the Jefferson Muzzles are awarded to the most egregious subverters of the First Amendment. Bob talks to the Director of the Center, Josh Wheeler. Then, kids tend to get squirmy after too long in church, but when your mother is the preacher, the phrase “Be Good” carries a lot of weight. That’s the name of Gregory Porter’s latest release, a soulful r&b record heavily influenced by gospel & blues. Porter developed his love for music in his mother’s church, but he found his first real breakthrough in the theater. Now, Porter’s recording career is on the rise, as evidenced by the two Grammy nominations earned from his first two albums.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, in 1952, Marie Tharp discovered and mapped the mid-oceanic ridge.  Author Hali Felt argues that Tharp is one of the greatest forgotten scientists of the 20th century.  She has written a book about Tharp’s life and discovery titled Soundings:The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, April 22, 2013

New York Times reporter Michael Moss won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2010 investigation into the dangers of contaminated meat.  Now in a new book, Moss examines how food companies use food science and technology to hook consumers on the foods that are worst for us.  He writes about the food laboratories where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary drinks and the “mouthfeel” of fat.  The book is titled, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Frontline correspondent Martin Smith uses his own retirement fund as a case study to investigate why the traditional idea of retiring is a pipe dream for most Americans. “The Retirement Gamble” airs tonight at 10 p.m. on PBS.  Then, not too many decades ago, the act of running – for exercise or even pleasure – was unthinkable. Now, millions of people enter marathons and 5K events every year, and dedicated runners can be found on trails and footpaths in rain and snow, on the coldest day of winter and the height of summer heat. Cameron Stracher profiles three men who brought distance running to national attention in the new book, Kings of the Road.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Zelda Sayre was the wife and literary muse of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Together they were the living symbols of The Jazz Age, the Roaring 20’s and the Lost Generation.  But Zelda was also a writer, dancer, painter and so much more.  In her novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, written from Zelda’s point of view, Therese Anne Fowler gives Zelda her due.  Then, Bob talks with children’s book writer Daniel Pinkwater about surrealism in picture books (including his own) in their discussion of two Pinkwater favorites: D.B. Johnson’s Magritte’s Marvelous Hat and Brave Potatoes, by Toby Speed and illustrated by Barry Root. 
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Craig Havighurst, author of Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City, discusses the history of the Nashville radio station.  His book is now out in paperback.  Then, we visit WSM’s historic and unique broadcasting tower for a tour from chief engineer Jason Cooper. The station’s studios were damaged in Nashville’s 2010 flood and WSM was forced to broadcast from a cramped building at the tower site for seven months.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for The Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, a year ago today, Classic rock fans mourned the loss of iconic musician Levon Helm.  Producer Don Was talks about the life and influence of the late Grammy-winning musician.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Author and journalist Deborah Copaken Kogan joins Bob to discuss her recent article in The Nation, “My So-Called Post-Feminist Life In Arts and Letters”.  Then, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz worked in the Clinton administration as the chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, then at the World Bank as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist.  Now, he’s a professor at Columbia University and the author of The Price of Inequality. Bob talks with Stiglitz about how most Americans are worse off now than they were a decade ago and why he thinks that endangers our democracy.  His book is now out in paperback.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Margaret Fuller was one of the literary elite of 19th Century New England, along with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  But many of the details of her remarkable life have been eclipsed by her tragic death, in a shipwreck off the coast of Fire Island. A new biography,Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, by Megan Marshall, tells her story from youth in New England to adulthood in New York and Europe.  Fuller was a literary editor, a columnist crusading on behalf of the poor and a war correspondent. Marshall is the author of The Peabody Sisters, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and the New York Times Book Review.