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January 2010

 

Monday, January 4, 2010 

Bob spends the hour with veteran reporter Daniel Schorr, the last of Edward R. Murrow’s legendary CBS team still fully active in journalism. Schorr talks about his legendary career interviewing the likes of Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro and tells the tale about how he ended up on President Nixon’s enemies list. Bob originally spoke with Schorr in January of 2008 

 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It was 70 years ago today that FM radio was first demonstrated to the FCC.  In honor of that historic day, we decided to bring back Bob’s interview with Marc Fisher. He’s the author of Something in the Air: Radio, Rock and the Revolution that Shape a Generation. It tells the story of how radio survived the rise of television by focusing on “pop culture” and how it became the bonding agent for a generation.

 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hermain Khan is a first generation Pakistani-American boy, and Ana Cisneros is an Ecuadorian-American young woman. When each was seventeen-years-old, Khan and Cisneros competed in the nation’s oldest, most prestigious science competition, The Science Talent Search. Now they are the stars of a new documentary called Whiz Kids directed by Tom Shepard. The film is a coming-of-age story framed by the competition and the fact that American teens lag far behind other countries in math and science, now ranking 24th in the world. Then, The Nitty Gritty Dirty Band has had dozens of incarnations since the group started in 1966, but one constant has been Jeff Hanna. Singer-guitarist Hanna is one the folk super group’s founding members. Hannah talks with Bob about the band’s first studio record in 5 years, Speed of Life.

 

Thursday, January 7, 2010 

Carl Kasell just retired from anchoring NPR newscasts, a job held for more than 30 years. For nearly 25 of those years, Bob and Carl worked together on NPR’s Morning Edition. We’ll hear them swap stories and revisit highlights from Carl’s long radio career.

 

Friday, January 8, 2010

First, Washington Post columnist David Broder returns for his regular Friday morning political analysis. Then, based on the books by Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford debuted on PBS’s  Masterpiece Classic in 2008.  With an ensemble cast that included Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie, and Imelda Staunton, Cranford followed the lives of the residents of a fictional English town in the 1840s.  Now the cast is back in Return to Cranford, debuting on PBS on January 10th.  Bob talks with producer and Cranford miniseries creator Sue Birtwistle. And finally, another installment of our series This I Believe.  Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Arthur E. Morgan, a self-taught civil engineer, as well as an educator, a writer of more than 20 books, and a labor arbiter. He served as the first chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and as president of Antioch College in Ohio. 

 

Monday, January 11, 2010 

We bring back Bob’s 2005 conversation with music biographer, Peter Guralnick. He has written extensively about American music, including biographies of Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley and the most thorough account ever written of the life of R&B legend Sam Cooke. It’s titled Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke.

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 

American culture influences what the world eats, wears, listens to, and watches on TV.  But in a new book, science writer Ethan Watters argues that Western culture is also changing the way the world deals with mental illness.  For example, anorexia rates have risen in Hong Kong over the last 20 years because we exported the idea of the illness itself. And in Japan, Watters tells the story of drug companies selling the idea of depression to create a new market for a new drug.  Watters’s new book is titled Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. Then, when critics first noticed Lissy Trullie, they wrote about her alluring androgynous looks and used terms such as artsy, chic, former model, New York downtown, super-cool hipster.   Now they’re beginning to appreciate her distinctive husky voice, her musicianship and her immense promise as songwriter.   Self-Taught Learner, released last year as an EP, has been expanded to become Lissy’s first, full-length cd.

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 

700,000 people are expected to attend the North American International Auto Show when it opens in Detroit on January 16th.  In addition to the more than 700 new cars on display, attendees will see an industry transformed. Since last year’s show, General Motors and Chrysler have gone in and out of bankruptcy; Chrysler is now run by Fiat; and Toyota announced its first loss in almost 60 years. Paul Ingrassia spent 31 years with The Wall Street Journal, eight of those as the Detroit Bureau Chief. He won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of GM and has written a number of books about the auto industry. His newest is called Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster.  Then, Americans spend an average of 18 ½ hours a week in their cars. That means that out of the waking hours, we spend almost two months of the year in our vehicles. Catherine Lutz teamed up with her sister to write Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile & Its Effect on Our Lives.  The authors pair statistics with stories to explore what Americans’ love affair with the car gets us and what it costs us.

 

Thursday, January 14, 2010 

Pop artist James Rosenquist arrived in New York City as a young art student of great promise in 1955.  Over his 50 year career, the now-world renowned Rosenquist surpassed his early expectations to become one of the most important pop artists of his generation.  Painting Below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art is his firsthand account of the highs and lows of his remarkable career.  Then, entertainment critic David Kipen tells Bob what’s new in theaters.

 

Friday, January 15, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics.  Next, when Vince Lombardi became coach of the Green Bay Packers, the franchise was in a tail spin. It was the laughingstock of the National Football League – community owned, cheaply run, and outclassed on the field. When coaches and owners of other teams wanted to scare a little hard work into their own players, they threatened to ship the miscreants to Green Bay. In Lombardi’s first season with the Packers, he returned the team to respectability and began to lay the groundwork for his now legendary coaching ability. John Eisenberg talks with Bob about Lombardi, coaching philosophies, and this season’s NFL teams that could use a Lombardi of their own. Eisenberg’s book is titled, That First Season. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of actress Phyllis Kirk.  She starred with Vincent Price in the horror film House of Wax, and with Peter Lawford in The Thin Man television series. She later worked in public relations at CBS. Throughout her career, Kirk was active in various social and civil liberties causes.

 

Monday, January 18, 2010 

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday we bring back Bob’s 2008 conversation with several Memphis residents who knew King and were active during the civil rights struggle of the 1960’s.  All three guests touch on the city’s sanitation workers’ strike which brought Dr. King to Memphis.  Maxine Smith led the city’s chapter of the NAACP from 1962 until 1996.  Frank McRae was a local white minister who supported the sanitation workers marching for their rights and dignity. Benjamin Hooks was a close friend of King’s and went on to serve as executive director of the NAACP. 

 

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 

Barbara Demick’s new book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is based on interviews the journalist conducted as the Los Angeles Times’ first bureau chief in Seoul.  Demick tells the stories of North Koreans who escaped from the country including Mi-ran, a kindergarten teacher who watched as some of her young students starved to death, The book offers a rare glimpse into the Hermit Kingdom. Demick explains that North Korea is not an underdeveloped country but “a country that has fallen out of the developed world.” 

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act went into effect at the beginning of the month. The new law means that for the first time, mental health and substance abuse services will be covered by insurance plans. 22 million Americans are addicted to alcohol or drugs but few know that treatment could be covered by health insurance. William Cope Moyers has advocated for the passage of the legislation for 15 years. He is the son of Bill Moyers, a former addict himself, and the Vice President of Hazelden, one of the world’s largest private non-profit alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers. Then, Gabor Mate is a physician at North America’s only supervised injection site, the Portland Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. For many years, he’s been writing about very personal experiences working with the severely addicted. Through his work, Dr. Mate shows how our society creates and suffers from addiction on many levels, and also explains the neuroscience and brain chemistry of addiction. Dr. Mate is a proponent of very sane drug policy reforms, based on how addiction actually functions in the brain and what works: treatment, not criminalization. His book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction was a #1 best-seller in Canada, and it’s being released in the U.S. this week.

 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

 

The widespread tragedy in Haiti following the recent earthquake has as much to do with severe poverty and a dysfunctional government as it does with the natural disaster itself.  The country has a volatile history, especially when compared to its neighbors like the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, yet is stable financially and politically.  Mark L. Schneider is a Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America at the International Crisis Group.  He describes the people, government and culture of Haiti and why the quake affected so many people so drastically.  Then, one of the many challenges facing Haiti is “why” the country is so poor.  Lawrence E. Harrison points out that the dominant religion in Haiti is voodoo, “which nurtures mistrust and irrationality.”   Harrison is the Director of the Cultural Change Institute at the Fletcher School of International Affairs at Tufts University and has spent many years in Haiti.  He shares his observations about the country and what it might take to improve its financial, cultural, and political security. Finally, In 2008 Georges Anglade founded the Haitian chapter of PEN, the international organization that seeks freedom for writers.  In a country where more than half the population is illiterate and corruption a historical norm, Anglade had taken on a challenging but important role.  Unfortunately, he and his wife were killed in the earthquake last week.  John Ralston Saul is the president of International PEN.  He talks about his friend and colleague – and what Anglade’s death means to the country. 

 

Friday, January 22, 2010 

 

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, director Michael Hoffman (One Fine Day, The Emperor’s Club) turned his attention to the final years of Russia’s greatest literary figure, Leo Tolstoy, in his new film The Last Station.  Tolstoy, played by Christopher Plummer, created a will near the end of his life that left the whole of his estate to the Russian people and not to his long-suffering wife, Sofya, played by Helen Mirren.  Sofya’s fight to retain what she believes is rightfully hers becomes a battle of minds between the writer, his wife, and his longtime friend, played by Paul Giamatti. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Pearl S. Buck.  She won the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature for her writings including “The Good Earth.” Born in West Virginia to missionary parents, Buck lived in China for 40 years. She wrote more than 100 works, and advocated for adoption of homeless Asian-American children.

 

Monday, January 25, 2010  

A few years ago, cultural reporter Peter Ames Carlin wrote an extensive biography of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. Bob had Carlin on the program for an interview packed with great stories set to a great soundtrack. Now Carlin has turned his attention to Paul McCartney, whom he argues was always the Beatles’ musical director – even teaching Lennon how to play guitar chords and tune his instrument properly. Paul McCartney: A Life is based on years of research and presents a textured portrait of one of music’s living icons.

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 

Social thinker and author Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis looks at emerging scientific studies that show humans are not naturally aggressive and self-interested, but fundamentally empathetic.  Rifkin’s book is a new interpretation of the history of civilization, focusing on the development of human empathy through the present time.  Then, folklorists Nancy Groce and Steve Winick from the Library of Congress have chosen the theme “Sickness & Health” to showcase songs from the collection about the 1918 influenza, childbirth, folk cures and a malady known as jake-leg.

 

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Barack Obama made history by being the first African American elected to the nation’s highest post – a feat no woman has yet accomplished.  Journalist Anne Kornblut covered the last Presidential election for the Washington Post and she discusses the gender issue in Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win.  Then, former Vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro talks about the advances women have made and the obstacles that still remain.  Bob spends the rest of the hour with Wall Street Journal reporter Susan Davis and women’s studies professor Bonnie Morris who share their observations on the role of women in politics.

 

 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In his book The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, writer, activist and academic Raj Patel raises the question: if economics is about choices, who gets to make them?  Patel writes about economics, but also about the social and ecological effects of the global market. Then, sea life around the world is suffering under the strain of insatiable fishing by humans, and scientists predict that most of our known fish species could be extinct by the middle of this century. Barton Seaver is a Washington DC-based chef who supports sustainable seafood and puts those beliefs into action at his restaurant, Blue Ridge. Charles Clover is an environmental journalist, an author and a protagonist of the film The End of the Line which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. The film warns of the potential devastation of our known sea creatures if we don’t address overfishing. Seaver and Clover are part of a global effort to raise awareness of overfishing, to pressure politicians to take action, and to encourage a responsible relationship between consumers and the sea creatures that we love to eat.

 

 

Friday, January 29, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, this month, The Library of Congress named young adult novelist Katherine Paterson the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  She is this position’s second appointee, and has chosen the theme “Read for Your Life” for her two year tenure.   Paterson is a two-time Newbery Award winner, for Bridget to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved and two-time winner of the National Book Award for The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Master Puppeteer. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi.  He was born in Cairo, studied medicine in London, and returned to Egypt to research bacteriology and teach. Also an accomplished artist, Shadi published several collections of poetry, wrote scripts for operas and painted. He immigrated to the United States in 1946.