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Bob Edwards Weekend

September 2009

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



September 5-6, 2009


FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) funded four arts program.  One of those, the Federal Writer’s Project, employed thousands of writers and started the careers of some of America’s most famous authors like Studs Terkel, Ralph Ellison, Richard Writer, Saul Bellow, and Zora Neale Hurston.  Bob talks with writer David Bradley about a new documentary that tells the story of the Federal Writer’s Project.  “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story” premiers on the Smithsonian Channel this weekend.

Frances Perkins was FDR’s Secretary of Labor and his moral conscience. The very first woman to hold a cabinet level position, it was Perkins who created and guided many of the New Deal programs. Perkins’ ideas became some of the country’s most important laws. Journalist Kirstin Downey has written the very first biography about Perkins. It’s titled The Woman Behind the New Deal.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from James Carey.  Called “Labor’s Boy Wonder,” Carey was still in his 20s when he was elected national secretary of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. By age 40, Carey founded and became the first president of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.



This week we conclude our three-part series on education reform.  After focusing on the specific changes that have been made in New York City and Washington, DC, we’ll discuss broader issues such as the value of national standards and how to implement them locally.  We’ll also talk about how pre-school and after school programs can make a dramatic difference to at-risk students, and find out the many different ways different students learn.




September 12-13, 2009


Davis Guggenheim is best known as the director of “An Inconvenient Truth” which won an Oscar in 2007. Now he has a new documentary called “It Might Get Loud.” The film chronicles the meeting of three masters of the electric guitar: The Edge of U2, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jack White.


In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gedimanabout the essay from Julien Bryan. He was a documentary filmmaker who made educational movies exploring cultures as diverse as the nomadic tribes in Saudi Arabia and the mountain families of Appalachia. Bryan’s films were translated into 40 languages and shown around the world.



Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court did something it hadn’t done in 50 years – it ordered a stay of execution and a new court hearing for an inmate attempting to prove his innocence.  Since 1991, Troy Davis has been on death row in Georgia, convicted of shooting an off-duty cop.  Even though seven of the nine eyewitnesses who testified against him have come forward to say they either were mistaken or deliberately lied, no court has let them testify with this information.  Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project joins Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights to talk about the case and what it could mean for other wrongful convictions. 

Bob speaks to author Tori Murden McClure in front of a live studio audience at the Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.  McClure was the first woman (and first American) to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Being the scholar-athlete that she is, McClure has also written a book about her experience called A Pearl in the Storm.  She set off on her successful trip 10 years ago this weekend.




September 19-20, 2009


Drawing on her heritage, journalistic experience and lack of loyalty to any one media brand or format, Molly Bingham is setting out to change the way we think about media forever. She explains it all to Bob, including her new project “The Global Council for Media Transformation” which she will introduce at next week’s Clinton Global Initiative hosted by former President Bill Clinton.

As a city councilman, Cory Booker moved into a tent pitched in front of one of Newark’s most notorious housing projects, Brick Towers.  He was trying to draw attention to an open-air drug market thriving there.  Booker is now the Mayor of Newark and he’s the subject of a new five-part documentary series on the Sundance Channel called Brick City. Bob talks with the Mayor about trying to reinvent a city saddled with a half-century history of violence, corruption and poverty —— and now with movie cameras on him nearly around the clock.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Will Thomas.  He was born in Kansas City and worked as a newspaper writer, editor and prizefighter. Thomas eventually settled in Vermont with his wife and three children. His book, “The Seeking,” details the family’s integration to the all-white community of Westford.           



James Wood is a literary critic and staff writer for The New Yorker and a professor of English and American literature at Harvard University.  In his book How Fiction Works, Wood examines the alchemy of fiction, questioning why some literary devices work, while others fall out of fashion.  In 2008, the magazine Intelligent Life named Wood as one of the world’s top 30 critics.

Director Jane Campion’s new film Bright Star tells the story of the final three years of English Romantic poet John Keats’ life.  Keats had a secret love affair with his neighbor Fanny Brawne which, in keeping with the Romantic Age’s sensibilities, ended tragically.  Campion directed 1993’s The Piano, winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay, and she was the second woman in Oscar history to secure a nomination for Best Director.


September 23-24, 2009


Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is back with a new, majestic and sweeping, six-part, 12-hour documentary for PBS. “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” charts the history and current status of our country’s most treasured real estate.  Bob talks with Burns and writer and co-producer Dayton Duncan about the ten years they spent on the project.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from television and film actress Julia Adams.  Her career has spanned more than 50 years and began with a starring role in “Creature From the Black Lagoon.”  Adams has co-starred with movie icons John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston and many others. More recently, she has appeared on TV shows “Lost” and “Cold Case.”



Bob first talked with Jill McCorkle at the beginning of her career. Now, they re-unite to discuss “Going Away Shoes,” her ninth book. It’s a collection of short stories that McCorkle describes as a litter she was nursing. The characters confront unhappy marriages, looming adulthood, and therapy – but McCorkle manages to inject a lot of humor into those dark subjects.

Chris Smither is a musician with a reputation for storytelling, weaving catchy melodies and intricate lyrics together. Smither mixes the blues with folk to create his recognizable style, and it’s one that has influenced other artists, like Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris. Smither’s latest album is called “Time Stands Still,” and it includes his own songs and covers from Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler. Bob talks with Smither about his long musical career and he performs a few of his songs in the studio.