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Bob Edwards Weekend

August 2009


Click here for a free podcast of the shows described below.




August 1-2, 2009





Wendell Potter was an executive with the insurance company Cigna for almost 20 years. Now, he’s speaking out against the insurance industry. Several weeks ago, Potter testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about what he sees as an industry corrupted by Wall Street greed and investor expectations.


In this week’s installment of our ongoing seriesThis I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, was active in Democratic politics and helped shape her husband’s New Deal programs. Considered one of the most active and influential first ladies in U.S. history, Roosevelt advocated for racial equality, women’s rights and world peace.




Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno have made a career out of humiliating greedy corporations and corrupt government agencies that they feel dishonor human life. Their exploits are documented in a new film called The Yes Men Fix the World. The documentary has won standing ovations and audience awards at festivals across the country and it’s airing this weekend on HBO.


One night in 2001, aspiring actor Charlie Todd was out with his friends at a Greenwich Village bar when they decided to pretend that Charlie was the famous but rarely recognized musician Ben Folds. After an evening of signing autographs and getting free drinks, Todd realized New York City was the ultimate stage for his craft and from there dreamed up his group Improv Everywhere. Now eight years old, Improv Everywhere continues to live up to its mission statement: “we cause scenes.” Founder Charlie Todd and fellow agent Alex Scordellis recount their finest missions in the new book Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere.


August 8-9, 2009 




This summer, Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt and Blues Hall of Famer Taj Mahal are traveling the country together on the “BonTaj Roulet” tour. “This tour is just what the doctor ordered,” Raitt says. “Taj and I have so much in common, but there’s so much unexplored territory between us.” There’s a charitable element to the “BonTaj Roulet” tour as well: a portion of ticket sales will go to charities voted on by the fans.


In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Iowa native Anne Heywood. She held 34 different jobs before founding the Career Changing Clinic in New York City to help troops returning from World War II find work. Heywood was the author of There Is a Right Job for Every Woman.



The theory of evolution was introduced 150 years ago by Charles Darwin. Yet, still most medical schools do not teach how the human body and mind evolved during and since the Stone Age. Dr. William Meller has spent the bulk of his career studying evolutionary medicine and traveling to countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, and Peru to study ancient methods of healing. Meller discusses evolutionary medicine and how scientists can better learn through the study of anthropology.


Most people would have found Julie Klam’s childhood enviable; her mother would repeatedly take her out of school to spend the day shopping at Bloomingdale’s and having lavish lunches. But Julie would soon learn that her glamorous life growing up in New York’s wealthy Westchester County did little to prepare her for the real world. In her memoir, Please Excuse My Daughter, Klam records her successes and failures making it on her own



August 15-16, 2009



One of the most legendary moments in rock-n-roll history started with an ad placed in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal: “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” The 40thanniversary of what was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition” is August 15th. Greg Walter worked on the backstage crew of Woodstock and came away with more than his share of stories, which he includes in his book Woodstock: A New Look, along with photographs he shot during the festival.


In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Bernard Baruch. He rose to prominence as a financier and member of the New York Stock Exchange. Baruch advised Presidents Woodrow Wilson during World War I, Franklin Roosevelt during the New Deal and World War II, and Harry Truman in the post-war era.



Every night, there are 250,000 homeless veterans and not nearly enough shelters to house them. Of that total, 4,000 served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bob visits a shelter in Washington, DC dedicated to supporting homeless veterans to talk directly to former military men and women and the social workers trying to help them.



August 22-23, 2009




New York Times reporter Sarah Lyall moved to London 15 years ago, sending back reports on her new countrymen’s habits, national character, and eccentricities. She discusses with Bob what emerged from that trip, A Field Guide to the British: The Anglo Files, Lyall’s essays on England’s personality and the social changes that are altering this traditional nation. Her book comes out in paperback on Tuesday.


In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from George Mardikian. His first job in America was washing dishes in a San Francisco cafeteria; he eventually bought the place and built it into a renowned restaurant. For his work to improve food service for combat troops in Korea, Mardikian was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award an American can receive.



This week is the first of a three part series on education reform. The focus is on New York City — that’s where many of the reforms being tested and proposed for other cities originated. Joel Klein is the chancellor of New York City Public Schools and Diane Ravitch is a former Assistant Secretary of Education and now a research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. They discuss the main issues including mayoral control, teacher accountability, social promotion, and New York’s alternative curricula (i.e., Everyday Mathematics, Balanced Literacy, etc). Plus, the guests weigh in on the values of No Child Left Behind, teachers unions, charter schools, and more.


August 29-30, 2009



In the classroom and her book, Revenge of the Women’s Studies Professor, Bonnie Morris tries to convince her audience that even though she teaches women’s history, she’s NOT a “feminazi.”  That term was coined in the early 90s by a well-known conservative talk show host, but the name stuck. Even in 2009 Morris says most students at George Washington University where she teaches will not take a woman’s studies class due to the lingering stigma.  Morris will share insightful and humorous stories — and maybe just a little bit of women’s history — in a chat about academic sexism.


In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Margaret Sanger.  She was the founder and president of the American Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood. She organized the first World Population Conference in Geneva in 1927. Even into her 80s, Sanger traveled the world helping to establish birth control clinics.



In part two of a three week series on education reform, we focus on the nation’s capital.  Washington, DC Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee is the protégé of Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City Public Schools, who was featured last week.  However, Rhee has probably been even more controversial than her mentor.  Rhee and Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers, will discuss issues related to teacher pay, how to motivate students, and the role of charter schools.  We’ll also hear from Jennifer Niles, who runs a successful charter school, and Paul Griffin, who runs an after school program he founded in DC.