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Bob Elsewhere

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July 2013


Monday, July 1, 2013


The smooth, serene lines of the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis belie the monument’s tumultuous history that includes election stealing, the destruction of historic buildings and ruthless businessmen. Historian Tracy Campbell tells the story in his book The Gateway Arch.  Campbell argues that the Arch is as much a symbol of westward expansion as it is failed urban planning.  Then, Cheyenne Maris Mize is a singer-songwriter from Louisville, Kentucky.  She has been described as having that “rare voice, sweet without being cloying, and weary without hopelessness.” She performs songs from her forthcoming release, Among the Grey.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013


In 1743, Ben Franklin made the case that it was time for colonists to give more thought to improving the lot of all of humankind through collaborative inquiry.  From that call-to-action came an association dedicated to harnessing intellectual and creativity powers for the common good, the American Philosophical Society.  Jonathan Lyons tells the story in a new book titled The Society For Useful Knowledge: How Benjamin Franklin and Friends Brought the Enlightenment to America. Then, motherless at the age of two, Alysia Abbott lived with her bisexual father in the aftermath of San Francisco’s Stonewall riots.  She recounts her unique adolescence in a new book titled Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. 



Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Bob talks with bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld about her new novel.  Sisterland tells the story of identical twin sisters with innate psychic abilities — they’re able to foresee future events.  Violet embraced her senses by becoming a psychic, but her sister Daisy (who changed her name to Kate) rejected her senses, and did everything possible to live a quiet and normal family life.  When, Violet predicted that their home town of St. Louis would suffer a massive earthquake, Kate’s life became anything but normal. Then, musician Luke Winslow King came to New Orleans by way of Northern Michigan, but it only takes hearing him play to know that New Orleans is in his musical genes.  Playing a rich blend of ‘50s rockabilly, gospel, and New Orleans jazz, Winslow King’s latest album is The Coming Tide.



Thursday, July 4, 2013


We dip into the archive to bring back Bob’s interview with popular music scholar Philip Furia about his book America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley.  It’s about the most beloved songs of the last century, from the misery of the Depression-era “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” to the postwar optimism of “Young at Heart.”  Then, our resident folklorists Nancy Groce and Steve Winick from the Library of Congress dip into the archive of the American Folklife Center and bring along songs, poems, and stories about food.



Friday, July 5, 2013


Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Roots music titan Delbert McClinton and fellow Texan troubadour Glen Clarkhave been playing music together since the 1960s. But Blind, Crippled and Crazy marks their first new album together in 40 years.  The two country music greats join Bob to talk about their collaboration and why McClinton says he has more fun singing with Clark than anybody else.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, July 8, 2013


Jon Mooallem traveled all over North America to study the plight of three endangered species – polar bears, whooping cranes and Lange’s metalmark butterflies.  He uses their stories to frame a larger one about American’s precarious relationship with wild animals, one that starts when we are very small and surrounded by animal imagery on everything from bouncy seats to PJ sets.  Mooallem’s book is titled Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America.  Then, in his book Freedom’s Forge, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Arthur Herman tells a little-known story from World War II: how two American businessmen—the President of General Motors William Knudsen and construction giant Henry Kaiser—oversaw an output of weapons, tanks, planes, guns, and ammunition that almost defies imagination. Herman calls it the greatest industrial miracle in history, and makes the case that these men changed the face of not only American business and industry but of American society.  His book is now available in paperback.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Military journalist and author Stephen Harding tells an unlikely but true story in his book The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe.  Then, Christopher Rufo is the director of a new documentary film Age of Champions, which tells the story of five senior citizens who are competitors at the National Senior Olympics. These senior athletes — a 100 year old tennis player, 86 year old pole vaulter, his 89 year old arch-rival, and baby boomer basketball grandmothers – are challenging what it means to be old.  Age of Champions is broadcasting nationally on PBS today, and the broadcast also coincides with this year’s National Senior Olympics, which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio July 19th - August 1st. 



Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Over the course of three albums, 13 SongsPages, and her latest, Clocks, Irish musician Julie Feeney has grown as an artist, singer, songwriter, composer, conductor, label head and now, fundraiser. Over two hundred of Feeney’s fans (including at least one Bob Edwards Show producer) crowdfunded Clocks, released on her own independent label, “mittens.” Holding master’s degrees in psychoanalysis, sonology (the study of sound) and music & media technologies, it is difficult to discern what, if anything, eludes Feeney’s capability.



Thursday, July 11, 2013


Two-time Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel may seem like an overnight success to her recently acquired fans on this side of the Atlantic, but she’s been a working novelist for over 25 years.  Bob talks with Mantel about her career and the success she’s found by telling the story of Henry VIII’s England in Wolf Hall and her latest Bring Up the Bodies.  Then, The New Yorker calls How A Person Should Be by first-time novelist Sheila Heti “..a vital and funny picture of the excitements and longueurs of trying to be a young creator in a free, late-capitalist Western City.” Bob talks to Heti about the book and her promising career.



Friday, July 12, 2013


Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, last August, Tig Notaro began her stand-up comedy set with this line: “Good evening! Hello. I have cancer! How are you?”  What came next “was one of the greatest standup performances I ever saw,” wrote Louis C.K., who then posted the set on his website and brought immediate fame to comedy’s now it-girl.   Notaro turned a string of horrors – cancer, double mastectomy, death of her mother, bad break-up – into a gut-wrenching but still very funny comedy routine.  It’s now being released on a cd, “Live,” for the first time this summer.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.



Monday, July 15, 2013

The music industry has changed over the last few decades.  The struggling, independent artist now has an even smaller chance of being discovered by a major label and rewarded with a career-changing contract.  But, these days bands can record their own studio-quality music, put their video on YouTube and work all of the social media sites to build a fan base.  Another part of that equation is often direct funding from that growing fan base. Paul Schomer runs a new music discovery blog called and he talks with Bob about the new landscape of the music industry and about some of the bands he has helped fans discover. Then, Bob talks with Sally Ellyson and Dan Messe of the band Hem about their latest CD. The tunes on Departure and Farewell are not much of a departure from their previous work – still a mix of light airiness and layered density.  The full band will also play a few of their new songs in our performance studio. 
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
For 40 years, Bob Dotson has traveled the country profiling ordinary Americans for a segment on NBC’s Today Show called “American Story.” He always felt that the people he met deserved more than 5 minutes of television fame, so he’s compiled the most memorable stories into a book titled American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.  Then, children’s book author and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater talks with Bob about the importance of good early children’s primer books, and recommends Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka’s Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Over a five year period beginning in 1968, airplane hijackings were astonishingly common. Commercial jets were seized once a week on average. One of the most famous occurred in 1972 when Army veteran Roger Holder and his beautiful girlfriend Cathy Kerkow commandeered Western Airlines flight 701 from Los Angeles to Seattle as a vague protest against the Vietnam War. The couple claimed to have a bomb, but they were not in fact carrying any weapons and no one was hurt. Brendan Koerner chronicles the bizarre story in a new book titled The Skies Belong to Us. Then, the former first lady of France, Carla Bruni, has recently released her fourth album, Little French Songs. It’s been called a “tightly crafted, sweet collection of French chasons” and features “Mon Raymond,” a love song to her husband, Nicholas Sarkozy.  Bruni explains that Raymond was easier to rhyme than Nicholas.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Nelson Mandela. His name and his legacy are iconic. His birthday, July 18th, is also internationally recognized as Nelson Mandela Day. Bob talks to South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool about the man and his life’s work. Then, Early in the morning of January 1, 2009, Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a transit officer on the subway system in Oakland. The incident triggered riots throughout the city.  Filmmaker Ryan Coogler made a feature film about Grant, called Fruitvale Station, which chronicles his last day alive and the positive changes he’d hoped to make.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, Oscar and Emmy Award nominated actor James Cromwell is best-known for two very different roles: Farmer Hoggett in the surprise 1995 family film Babe and as the ruthless Captain Dudley Smith in 1997’s noir thriller L.A. Confidential. Cromwell’s latest film is Still Mine and it opens today. Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Bob talks with commentator and SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile about the launch of SiriusXM’s new progressive talk channel driven by veteran activists.  Signorile is an author and longtime advocate for gay rights who is a proponent of the controversial practice of “outing.” Starting July 22nd he will host a daily afternoon call-in show on SiriusXM Progress, channel 127.  Then, in 2010, Bob spoke with singer-songwriter Meg Hutchinson about her album The Living Side.  On the album is a song called “Gatekeeper” about Sergeant Kevin Briggs of the California Highway Patrol.  For years, Briggs has worked on the Golden Gate Bridge, talking hundreds of people out of jumping to their deaths.  Bob talks with both Meg and Kevin about the song and Kevin’s work.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
It was 40 years ago this year that readers first met the fearless adventurer, marine engineer, and government agent Dirk Pitt in author Clive Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper.  A copy writer by day, Cussler started writing at night to keep himself company while his wife worked a nightshift.  This best-selling author’s most recent book is Zero Hour, the 9th installment of his “Numa Files” series.  Then, in the late 1950s and early 60s, Nat King Cole released three ground-breaking Spanish language albums and became instantly beloved by many Latin Americans for helping to bring their language and beats to an American audience. Now his daughter is following in his footsteps with Natalie Cole en Espanol.  Cole felt inspired to make this album not only because of her father’s connection with the music but also because her life-saving kidney donor was Latino.  Natalie Cole speaks with Bob about the experience of undergoing a kidney transplant and her special relationship with the donor’s family, as well as her family’s long commitment to bilingual music.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Ten years ago, Richard Rubin set out to interview every last living World War I veteran. There were only a few dozen left, aged 101 to 113.  The result is a unique tribute to the men who shared their memories and heart-wrenching stories. Rubin’s book is titled, The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War.  Then, we listen back to our 2007 conversation with Helen Thomas. The pioneering female journalist who passed away at 92 over the weekend covered the White House under ten presidents, starting with the Kennedy administration.

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Rafe Esquith has taught at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles for more than 25 years and is the only teacher to have been awarded the president’s National Medal of the Arts.  Almost all of his students live below the poverty line and are from immigrant families, with none speaking English as a first language.  However, his fifth-grade students consistently score in the top 5 to 10-percent of the country in standardized tests.  Esquith’s latest book is titled Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers from Rookies to Veterans: “No Retreat, No Surrender!”   Then, Michael Cera is known to film and television audiences as a lovable, if overly awkward young man.  In the new film, Crystal Fairy, Cera plays against type as an American visitor to Chile whose main interest is sampling the local offerings in the drug world. Bob talks with Cera and director Sebastian Silva about the film, and its unlikely path to existence.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, after the government of Indonesia was overtaken by a military regime in 1965, more than one million people were executed by gangsters and paramilitary forces.  Many of those killers are still alive today and in the documentary film, The Act of Killing, they describe and reenact their gruesome mass-murders with pride.  Josh Oppenheimer is the filmmaker who captured the incredible footage.  Now too risky for him to return, he says, “Indonesia is a country where the military is still overwhelmingly powerful; where the government and big Western corporations use thugs to enforce oppressive labor conditions or to seize people’s land or to break strikes; and where there’s still political censorship.”  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.

Monday, July 29, 2013

In her U.S. fiction debut, Irish writer Aifric Campbell turns to a subject she knows well: London’s financial world.  Campbell spent 13 years at Morgan Stanley, becoming the first female managing director on the London trading floor.  Her book, On The Floor, is a fictionalized account of her previous career.  Then, Mark Leibovich is a long-time reporter for the New York Times and before that The Washington Post.  His new book, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral, is a skewering of Washington DC’s incestuous “medial industrial complex” and the egos therein.  The book’s jacket includes a warning in red ink: “This Town does not contain an index. Those players wishing to know how they came out will need to read the book.” But that didn’t stop The Washington Post from getting their hands on an early copy and publishing their own “unauthorized” index. Finally, a segment Leibovich might appreciate…Steve Winick & Nancy Groce share selections from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress about friends & enemies.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
In his newest book, Hallucinations, neuroscientist Oliver Sacks tells stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to explain what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains. He argues that hallucinations have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and the potential to experience them is present in us all.  Then, Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics enchanted listeners at New York’s annual Governors Ball Music Festival.  Ruby and her band tell Bob all about it, and their album, It’s About Time.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Today we air an encore presentation of our award-winning documentary, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military.”  One in three active-duty women in the U.S. military have reported being the victim of sexual assault while serving, which is double the rate for civilians.  Based on estimates from the Department of Defense, 19,000 servicemen and women were sexually assaulted in 2010 but many violent acts don’t get reported because victims are required to report to their chain of command.  Only eight-percent of the perpetrators are brought to justice, either through prosecution or some form of military nonjudicial punishment.  Defending themselves in civilian court in 2011, the Pentagon argued that sexual assault is an “occupational hazard” in the military.  Throughout today’s program we will hear about military sexual trauma from affected servicemen and women, from advocates who help treat and raise awareness about the problem, and from lawmakers about what is and isn’t being done to change the culture that protects these sexual perpetrators.