Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Young Somalis disappear
The violent civil war in Somalia is now in its seventeenth year. Thousands have died. Millions have lost their homes. Now the war appears to be affecting people living in the United States. In Minneapolis, several Somali men — and at least one high school student — are believed to have returned to their East African homeland. Their families are worried that they might be fighting as insurgents in the war against Ethiopia, whose troops have occupied the country since 2006.
The audio is here.
(Photo: Abdirizak Bihi and daughter. Bihi's nephew — Burhan Hassan — is one of many Somali-Americans from Minneapolis who are now thought to be living in Somalia. Hassan was a student taking advanced placement classes at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis before he disappeared. Photo by Todd Melby)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Minnesota edges closer to deciding Senate winner
The end drew closer on Tuesday in Minnesota's drawn-out U.S. Senate race, with Democrat Al Franken holding a slim 50-vote lead over incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, officials said.
Franken was leading Coleman 1,211,951 to 1,211,901 -- with at least 1,346 absentee ballots still to be counted by early next week.
"We're darn close," said Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat and member of the five-member board trying to determine the winner of the November 4 contest. More here.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Death's Footprint, a documentary I co-produced with Diane Richard, on the environmental consequences of traditonal funeral and burial practices aired today on Chicago Public Radio's Eight Forty-Eight show.
Here's our introduction to the story: "Nine million people live in the Chicago area. One thing is clear: all of us are going to die. What you may not know is what happens to all those bodies, and the effect they have on the environment. Chicagoland cemeteries take up thousands of acres of open space. Funeral homes use gallons of toxic chemicals a year. And cremation consumes lots of energy and emits toxins into the environment. Today, many Americans are looking for ways that make their deaths greener. But change is coming slowly. The way we practice death has deep cultural and religious traditions."
This program includes interviews with an embalmer, an undertaker, a 34-year-old woman who wants to have her corpse composted by worms, the sounds of a crematorium and an exploration of the newest, greenest body disposal technique: resomation.
Death's Footprint won an Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) for best documentary. The program also won a best documentary award from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI).
The audio is here.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Singing Salvation Army Bell Ringer
Hearing Voices is a new weekly hour series from NPR. It bills itself as "the best of public radio: a sixty-minute stream of 'driveway moments' all connected by a weekly theme." This week's theme is Christmas and the show is airing a piece I produced last year on Arthur Jackson, a Salvation Army bell ringer at the Mall of America. The show is called Christmas Mashup and it airs on about 90 stations nationwide, including WNYC in New York City and Iowa Public Radio, right here in the Heartland of America.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Joe Strummer's London Calling
Every Monday night, I host a radio show called The Listening Lounge. I believe there ought to be a place on the radio for surprises. The Listening Lounge tries to be that delightful, and sometimes disturbing, place. When we air newsy documentaries, you won't hear experts droning on for decades. You'll hear vibrant stories about real people. And when we air shorter audio experiences, we get out of the way and let sound tell the story.
On Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, we'll hear from Joe Strummer of the Clash in a two-part series dedicated to his BBC Radio show. Here's a description: "Joe Strummer, the legendary gravel-voiced punk-poet from The Clash, loved to listen to music on the radio. Even as he toured the world with "the only band that matters," he still had a dream to one day spin records for the BBC World Service, where he heard the latest UK hits over the shortwave band as a teenager in Africa. He finally got his wish in 1999, when BBC World Service premiered Joe Strummer's London Calling. Between then and 2002, Strummer hosted a series of programs with a simple format — one man and his eclectic record collection." On the Dec. 22 show, listen to an interview with Strummer. On the Dec. 29 show, listen to Joe Strummer's first show for the BBC, unedited.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Two more public radio stations recently aired Consuming Desire, a documentary I co-produced with Diane Richard. WGBH in Boston and Marfa Public Radio in far west Texas aired the report in the days after Thanksgiving — the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season. Consuming Desire examines Americans' love of shopping. In particular, what motivates us to buy more than we need and whether this culturally sanctioned pursuit hints at darker aspects, financial or emotional, in our lives. The documentary previously aired on Chicago Public Radio, KFAI in Minneapolis and KVNF in western Colorado. To listen, click on the Consuming Desire link in this post.