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USA TODAY AWARD

Aural History Productions


Talking History, based at the University at Albany, State University of New York, is a production, distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural" history. Our mission is to provide teachers, students, researchers and the general public with as broad and outstanding a collection of audio documentaries, speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival audio sources, and other aural history resources as is available anywhere. We hope to expand our understanding of history by exploring the audio dimensions of our past, and we hope to enlarge the tools and venues of historical research and publication by promoting production of radio documentaries and other forms of aural history. In addition to our weekly radio program, we are engaged in numerous educational efforts, from running and sponsoring workshops to offering full-semester courses on radio production and oral history. Some of the most talented radio producers and engineers currently working in public and non-commercial radio now contribute to Talking History—both to our programming and to our educational efforts through production workshops. Here, you'll also find digital archives of their enormously creative and captivating works. Our weekly broadcast/internet radio program, Talking History, focuses on all aspects of history. Follow the link to the left, "The Radio Show," for more information on the program and to access the live WWW broadcast. Below you will find our latest archived shows; use the drop-down menu to the left to access to our full radio archive.

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February 9, 2016
Segment 1 | Ginger Strand on the Brothers Vonnegut (2015)
 Download: MP3



On Feb 9th, we broadcast a talk by nonfiction writer Ginger Strand. She spoke about her new nonfiction book, The Brothers Vonnegut (2015), a biography of major American author Kurt Vonnegut and his brother Bernard Vonnegut, a research scientist at the General Electric laboratory in Schenectady and a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University at Albany. Strand delivered the keynote lecture of the Researching New York Conference on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in the Clark Auditorium of the NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center (Albany, NY). Strand is also the author of Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate (2012), Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies (2008), and Flight: A Novel (2005).

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Kurt Vonnegut at NYU (1970)
 Download: MP3



From the Pacifica Radio Archives: here is a selection from a recording of a Kurt Vonnegut talk, delivered in an NYU classroom. Vonnegut, the author of Player Piano (1952), The Sirens of Titan (1959), Cat's Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse Five (1969), and many other works, discusses his work and life. Vonnegut was introduced by Ronald Gross, class instructor, but the introduction is not included in this excerpt. For the full audio, go to: http://blankonblank.org/interviews/kurt-vonnegut-man-eating-lampreys-indianapolis-parents-writing-big-space-fuck-space/. To obain a copy of the recording from the Pacifica Archives, go to: http://www.pacificaradioarchives.org/recording/bc1568.

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February 2, 2016
Segment 1 | BackStory: Court of Public Opinion ~ Trial Watching in America (2016)
 Download: MP3



In this episode of BackStory, the American History Guys "explore our fascination with courtroom drama. What makes for a compelling case and why have some landmark proceedings received little attention? We'll consider why so many Americans followed the trial of a young clerk accused of murdering a New York City prostitute in 1836, and why we're still talking about Sacco and Vanzetti nearly a century after they were sentenced to death. From public hanging in Puritan Massachusetts, to the murder trial of Black Panther leader Huey Newton in the late 1960's, the Guys will reveal the deep-seated issues beneath American trial-watching." For more information on this segment, go to: http://backstoryradio.org/shows/court-of-public-opinion/.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Orson Welles as Clarence Darrow in Compulsion (1959)
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In this selection fom the 1959 film Compulsion, Orson Welles delivers a stirring plea for the lives of his two young clients, accused if kidnapping and murder, The film, based on the fictionalized account written in 1956 by Meyer Levin, focuses on two wealthy Chicago teenagers, Judd Steiner and Artie Straus, who kidnap and murder a young boy. The final summation by their attorney, played by Welles, is taken directly from the transcript of the real trial. For more information about the film and the trial it was based on, see: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9F00EEDC1138EF3BBC4A53DFB2668382649EDE and http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/leoploeb/leopold.htm.

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January 26, 2016
Segment 1 | Richard Norton Smith on Nelson Rockefeller (Researching NY Conference ~ 11-20-2014)
 Download: MP3



Presidential and political historian Richard Norton Smith presented the keynote lecture for the 2014 Researching New York conferenc, focusing on his new biography of the former New York State governor and U. S. vice president Nelson Rockefeller, On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller (2014). Fourteen years in the writing, the book has been widely hailed as"the definitive biography of the New York governor and U.S. vice president who championed the arts and education, transformed Albany’s architectural landscape, and defined the moderate Republican brand." Smith's other books include the 1982 biography, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times;The Colonel (2003), about Chicago Tribune publisher Robert McCormick; The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation (1998); Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (1993); and An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (1984).

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Nelson Rockefeller's First State of the State Address (1-7-1959)
 Download: MP3



Here is an excerpt from Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s first State of the State address, delivered on 1-7-1959. It comest to us from the New York State Archives -- more specifically from "Series 13700-83, Audio and video tapes, 1951-1986, New York (State) Governor." The full recording is available from the Archives (contact ARCHREF@mail.nysed.gov or (518) 474-8955 for more information. This selection is available on line at: http://www.archives.nysed.gov/research/audio/rockefeller-state-of-the-state. In his address, Rockefeller " talks about New York's need for leadership that can achieve advances such as the Erie Canal, the Thruway, the St. Lawrence Seaway, etc., and about addressing emerging issues before they become problems, to better shape tomorrow."

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January 19, 2016
Segment 1 | BackStory: Color Lines ~ Racial Passing in America (2016).
 Download: MP3



"On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will consider how and why Americans throughout the centuries have crossed the lines of racial identity, and find out what the history of passing has to say about race, identity, and privilege in America. We'll look at stories of African-Americans who passed as white to escape slavery or Jim Crow and find out how the "one-drop rule" enabled one blonde-haired, blue-eyed American to live a double life without ever arousing suspicion. We'll also explore the story of an African-American musician who pioneered a genre of exotic music with a bejeweled turban and an invented biography, and examine the hidden costs of crossing over." For more information, go to: http://backstoryradio.org/shows/color-lines/.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Literary "Passing" - George Eliot
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We expand our discussion of the notion of "passing" by looking at women who used masculine pen names. Mary Ann Evans is now far better recognized by her pen name, George Eliot, as she is by her birth name. One of the leading English writers of the Victorian era, she chose a masculine pen name to be taken seriously -- to escape the automatic association of women writers with romantic and light-hearted plots. Here we offer a selection from chapter 1 of one of her most famous novels, Middlemarch (1871-72). For more infromation about George and her works, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Eliot.

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January 12, 2016
Segment 1 | From the Vault: Dalton Trumbo (2015).
 Download: MP3



From one of Pacifica Radio's flagship programs, From the Vault, we present this profile of blacklisted Hollwood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, now the subject of a major Hollywood film: "This week on From the Vault we salute one of America's greatest screenwriters and novelists, Dalton Trumbo, who is known as much for his Academy Award-winning scripts as he is for being one of the infamous "Hollywood Ten," a group of Hollywood film industry professionals blacklisted for publicly denouncing the tactics of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the late 1940's. In 1971, Trumbo sat down for an interview with Pacifica's Larry Bensky to discuss the film adaptation of his award-winning 1939 novel Johnny Got His Gun. Dalton also explores his thoughts on the Attica Prison uprising, and reminisces on the days of McCarthyism and blacklisting in America. We'll also hear archival recordings from our collection of Trumbo’s contemporaries who knew him best, including Ring Lardner Jr. (a fellow member of the Hollywood Ten), communist activist Dorothy Healy, and actor Kirk Douglass.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Salt of the Earth (1954).
 Download: MP3



Here is an excerpt from a film produced during the 1950s directed by blacklisted director Herbert Biberman and produced by a number of other blacklisted Hollywood cast and crew members (including Paul Jarrico) -- though many of the actors came from the local community in which the film was made. The film, based on actual events, focuses on Mexican workers at a Zinc mine who call a strike -- and ultimately triumph as they build a solidarity among themselves. The film is especially unique, not only in the way it was made, but also in its feminist message. The success of the workers was heavily dependent on the trasnformation of the male workers in the film, one that took place as they learned to rely on -- and respet -- the strength and support of their wives, mothers and daughters. For more infromation on the film, see: http://magazine.oah.org/issues/244/salt.html.

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January 5, 2016
Segment 1 | With Good Reason: Reading the Founding Fathers' Mail (2015).
 Download: MP3



From the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities' With Good Reason: "More than 30 people who spent the last three years immersed in thousands of letters written by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Abigail Adams, and James Madison, are experiencing a sense of loss and sorrow now that the massive project to proofread the letters and make them available online has come to a close. Join us as Bill Kissell, Donna Carty, and Dena Radley share favorite letters that reveal the fascinating inner lives of the founders. Also: Project Director Sue Perdue (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) and Kathleen Williams (National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives) describe the scope of this remarkable project of the National Archives called Founders Online (produced in collaboration with the University of Virginia Press)." For more information, including links to online feaures, see: http://withgoodreasonradio.org/episode/reading-the-founding-fathers-mail/.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: City Water Tunnel #3 (Marty Pottenger).
 Download: MP3



Here are some edited audio selections from performer, writer, and director Marty Pottenger "performing" several of the individuals whom she interviewed while collecting the material for her Obie-winning play City Water Tunner #3. The Multi-media play is about the building of one of the largest non-defense public works project in the Western Hemisphere. The tunnel's construction began in 1970 and is scheduled for final completion in 2025. For information about the play, see: http://www.martypottenger.com/projects/cwt/. You can also follow a link there to the entire performance, now available on YouTube.

Segment 3 | Rear Vision (ABC Radio): A History of Drinking Water (2015; 2016).
 Download: MP3



This segment of our show comes to us from ABC's Radio National's weekly program, Rear Vision: "Most people in the big cities of the developed world don’t think twice about their water supply—unless perhaps, water restrictions are applied during a drought. Rear Vision tracks the remarkable advances in water engineering that make that assumption possible, beginning with the great gravity fed water system of ancient Rome. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, advances in water engineering not only allowed urban centres safe drinking water but found ways to manage waste water contamination as well. Now, in the twenty first century, will recycling and desalination plants answer the challenge of future drought and climate change?" For transcript and more information, see: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rearvision/a-history-of-drinking-water/7029616.

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December 29, 2015
NO SHOW THIS WEEK. CHECK OUT OUR PREVIOUS PROGRAMS.

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December 15, 2015
Segment 1 | BackStory: American Prophets ~ Religions Born in the U.S. (2015).
 Download: MP3



BackStory and the American History Guys look at the history of U.S. relgions this week: "History textbooks often argue that the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom, beginning with the Pilgrims who sought refuge from the Church of England. But the America of centuries past was more than a safe haven for religious dissenters. It was also fertile ground for many new religious faiths. In this hour of BackStory, the History Guys will consider religions that originated or transformed in America, from Christian Science to Scientology. They'll find out how the threat of colonization briefly united 18th-century Native Americans under a single deity, and how the Nation of Islam found converts among African-Americans in the civil rights era. What makes a religion "American"? Why do so many new faiths sprout from American soil? And what role will 21st century America play in the history of religious innovation?" This week's guests include: Estrelda Alexander, William Seymour College; Adam Jortner, Auburn University; John Turner, George Mason University; David Holland, Harvard Divinity School; Hugh Urban, The Ohio State University; Zaheer Ali, Brooklyn Historical Society.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Music from the Shakers: Simple Gifts (1848; modern performance from YouTube).
 Download: MP3



Here is a recent performance (audio only) of a classic Shaker dance song written and composed in 1848 by Shaker elder Joseph Brackett. For the video of the perfomance -- from Cibertracker Imperium -- go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLAnuG1340g. For background information on the song, see: http://www.americanmusicpreservation.com/JosephBrackettSimpleGifts.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_Gifts.

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December 8, 2015
Segment 1 | Against the Grain: The Moynihan Report of 1965 (2015).
 Download: MP3



This segment comes to us from Against the Grain [http://www.againstthegrain.org/]: "When the Moynihan Report was released fifty years ago, it sparked an explosive debate as well as a long-running controversy, one that persists to the present day. What did the document say about African American life, and why did William F. Buckley, Dr. King, and Michael Harrington all praise its message? Daniel Geary describes the report's impact on the way people think and talk about race and inequality in the US." For more information on the Mouynihan Report, see: Daniel Geary, Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Theodore" (1907 song).
 Download: MP3



Theodore Roosevelt's achievements are lauded in this song, released in 1907 as an Edison Gold Moulded Record cylinder recording. The song was composed by Vincent Bryan and sung here by Edward M. Favor. For more details, go to this UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive Web site: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/OBJID/Cylinder3429.

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December 1, 2015
Segment 1 | BackStory: Contested Landscape ~ Confederate Symbols in America (2015).
 Download: MP3



Brom BackStory and the American History Guys: "In July of this year, the murder of nine African-American parishioners at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina reignited a longstanding debate about the Confederate flag. Soon after the shooting, South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the flag from the State House building, and many other states followed suit. But while some Americans applaud the decision as a victory against racism and hatred, others argue that the flag's removal dishonors the memory of those who died defending the South. On this episode of BackStory, we're looking at how memories of the Confederacy have shaped the nation's landscape, from the rebel flag to the silver screen. The Guys will hear what symbols of the Confederacy mean to African Americans, explore Hollywood's love affair with Confederate heroes, and find out why one Civil War re-enactor changed his mind about his heritage. How have generations of Americans revered and renounced the Confederacy since its defeat 150 years ago?" This week's guests include: John Coski, American Civil War Museum; Maurie McInnis, University of Virginia; Brenda Stevenson, UCLA; Logan Jaffe, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio; Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Eileen Jones, UC Berkeley; Waverly Adcock, Former Civil War Re-enactor.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Maryland, My Maryland (written 1861; official state song 1939).
 Download: MP3



Maryland, My Maryland
is the official state song of Maryland; it's based on a poem written by James Ryder Randall in 1861. Filled with clearly anti-Northern and anti-Lincoln stanzas, the song was nonetheless adoped as Maryland's official state song on April 29, 1939, by Maryland's General Assembly. For more information about the history of the song, see: http://www.lib.umd.edu/civilwarwomen/exhibition/03song.html.

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November 24, 2015
Segment 1 | Open Source: America's First Dance with the Devil (2015).
 Download: MP3



From Open Source and Christopher Lydon: "John Winthrop, Massachusetts' first governor, first came to our shores, he gave the famous address, 'A Modell of Christian Charity.' When Winthrop declared, 'we shall be as a city upon a hill — the eyes of all people will be upon us,' he may well have been thinking of Salem, a pious little place perched on the north shore of Massachusetts Bay, older and richer than the future capital of Boston. Just before that, Winthrop predicted that a new kind of covenant would govern the people of Salem, Boston, Plymouth and York -- a religious fellowship, a peaceful neighborliness: We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace… So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. By the century was out, Salem, a city named for peace, would break out into an unholy war of all against all: a fever of recrimination and betrayal directed at witches in high places and low. Accusers named almost 200 people in places high and low -- from slave women and homeless widows to the governor’s wife -- as their stabbing spectral oppressors. A fiery court went to work in Salem's main street, extracting confessions. By the time the fever had broken, twenty martyrs -- those women and men who refused to pose as witches in order to save their own lives -- had been killed. (Five more had died in prison, including an infant.) The witch-trial mania of 1692 represented the gravest disappointment of Winthrop's Christian charity yet seen on these shores -- and the shame of it pervades everything. So, led by Stacy Schiff, author of a controversial new thriller-history of that year, we're looking at the Salem trials again as a whole: not just as a memory or a metaphor for McCarthyism, not as a Halloween jolt of adrenaline, but the ghostly after-image and lingering shame in our neck of the woods. Historians and writers in town will bring us home: Emerson 'Tad' Baker pitches Salem as a pivotal moment in American history, Marilynne Roach acquaints us with victims of the hysteria, and novelist Katherine Howe finds the clearest soundings of the story in the Gothic 'romances' of Nathaniel Hawthorne and in the gray surround of her home turf in Essex County, Mass." John Coski, American Civil War Museum; Maurie McInnis, University of Virginia; Brenda Stevenson, UCLA; Logan Jaffe, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio; Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Eileen Jones, UC Berkeley; Waverly Adcock, Former Civil War Re-enactor. For more details, go to: http://backstoryradio.org/shows/contested-landscape/.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: The Three Witches in Macbeth (1968).
 Download: MP3



An interesting interpretation from Shakespeare's famous scene with the three witches in Macbeth (written in 1606) -- from Act IV, Scene 1. Source: Renee LaTulippe, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY0Hyza6C-U.

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November 17, 2015
Segment 1 | BackStory: Body Politics ~ Disability in America (2015).
 Download: MP3



BackStory and the American History Guys look back at the history of disability in America [http://backstoryradio.org/shows/body-politics/]: "The impact of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is visible in parking lots, bathrooms, and public buildings across the country. But for centuries before the ramps and signs were erected, disabled people had to find their own ways to navigate American society. This week on BackStory, we’re exploring the history of disability in America, from the “ugly laws” that barred the disabled from public spaces to the grassroots activism that set the stage for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Guys will consider how the inventor of the telephone tried to stamp out American sign language, and how enslaved people found ways to exploit white fears of physical disability. How have people with disabilities shaped 21st century America? And how have American attitudes towards disability changed?" Guests this week include: Jenifer Barclay, Washington State University; Mat Fraser, Actor and disability advocate; Douglas Baynton, University of Iowa; Brian Greenwald, Gallaudet University; I. King Jordan, Gallaudet University; Dea H. Boster, Columbus State Community College; and Emily Smith-Beitiks, Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Jose Felliciano (1968).
 Download: MP3



Jose Montserrate Feliciano Garcia -- Jose Feliciano -- was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, on September 10, 1945. He was left permanently blind at birth as a result of congenital glaucoma, "One of eleven boys, his love affair with music began at the age of three when he first accompanied his uncle on a tin cracker can. When he was five, his family immigrated to New York City. Young Jose learned to play the concertina at age six, using a handful of records as his teacher. At eight, he entertained his classmates at PS 57, and at nine, performed at The Puerto Rican Theater in the Bronx. Venturing beyond the accordion, he taught himself to play the guitar with undaunted determination and again, with nothing but records as his teacher, practicing for as many as 14 hours a day. Exposed to the Rock'n'Roll of the 50's, Jose was then inspired to sing. . . . " For more on Feliciano, see his biography here: http://josefeliciano.com/wp/biography. Here we feature one of his better known musical renditions of the Doors' song Light My Fire, first released on his album Feliciano! in 1968.

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November 10, 2015
Segment 1 | Rear Vision (ABC-Radio National): A History of Zoos (2015).
 Download: MP3



Here's a piece that comes to us from ABC's Radio National's weekly program, Rear Vision: "People have collected and kept animals for thousands of years. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, what had been called menageries—often royal collections—gave way to zoos, where live specimens were collected for study. Although some zoos—like the London Zoo—were established specifically for scientific research, ultimately the widespread human desire to look at live animals turned zoos into popular public places of entertainment. During the twentieth century, zoo design evolved and concrete cages with bars were replaced by moats and more naturalistic settings. The role of zoos also changed and although entertainment certainly still tops the list for most visitors, education and conservation have been added to the reasons for keeping and displaying captive animals. Rear Vision looks at the history of zoos and how they have adapted to the concerns of animal welfare advocates and the existential threat to animals in the wild." For the transcript and more, see: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rearvision/zoos/6842166.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Dorothy Day interview (1960).
 Download: MP3



In this episode of Pacifica Radio's From the Vault, "we feature a rare recording of journalist, activist, and Catholic Worker Movement co-founder Dorothy Day. In 1927, thirty years after her birth, Day converted to Catholicism, and a few years later started The Catholic Worker, a popular newspaper promoting Catholic teachings. Leaning on the success of this publication, Day created the Catholic Worker Movement, which to this day addresses a wide range of social justice issues, guided by Catholic principles. Today, four decades after her passing in 1980, Day remains a revered figure in the modern Catholic Church, widely regarded as one of the most influential and important figures in the American Catholicism; indeed, Pope Francis himself highlighted the legacy of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement in his 2015 address to the United States Congress." For the full From the Vault broadcast, which includes a commentary by Blase Bonpane, host of the radio show World Focus (KPFK) and director of the Los Angeles-based Office of the Americas, more information about this segment -- go to: http://fromthevaultradio.org/home/.

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November 3, 2015
Segment 1 | BackStory: People's Choice ~ A History of Populism (2015).
 Download: MP3



Here's another contribution from BackStory and the American History Guys [http://backstoryradio.org/shows/populism/]: "Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have packed the stadiums as they make their case for the 2016 Republican and Democratic presidential nomination. Many pundits have labeled them 21st century “populists.” But invoking the “voice of the people” is a tradition as old as the country itself. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys trace populism’s influence on American politics—from mob justice in colonial Massachusetts to the White House’s first outsider, Andrew Jackson. BackStory will explore how farmers built a mass movement around monetary reform in the late 19th century and how politicians have capitalized on the tradition of riling up the masses. How have populist movements inspired—and sometimes frightened—the electorate? And how does populism impact our politics today?" This week's guests include: Omar Ali, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Jamelle Bouie, Slate Magazine; Ranjit Dighe, State University of New York Oswego; Paul Gilje, University of Oklahoma; Jason Opal, McGill University; Harry Watson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: Georgia Watson Craven interview (Tom Watson's granddaughter) by David Moltke Hansen (short selection; 1990).
 Download: MP3



Here is a short audio selection from an Interview with Georgia Watson Craven, conducted by David Moltke-Hansen in 1990. Craven is the granddaughter of Georgia populist Thomas E. Watson, who served as a congressman and later senator from Georgia. Watson was one of the founders of Georgia's Populist Party and ran for the Vice Presidency in 1896 on the Populist Party ticket, headed by William Jennings Bryan. For the full interview, go to: http://www2.lib.unc.edu/dc/watson/oralhistories.php. For a short biography of Watson, see: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/thomas-e-watson-1856-1922.

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October 27, 2015
Segment 1 | Against the Grain: Industrialized Agriculture in the Soviet Union (2015).
 Download: MP3



From Against the Grain: "Agriculture in the Soviet Union had some colossal disasters -- not the least of which was the near-destruction of the Aral Sea -- and some significant successes as well. But most of the analysis of that experience has been through a Cold War lens. Historian Jenny Leigh Smith has taken a second look at Soviet agriculture. She argues that it compares decently to other mid-century industrialized agricultural systems, including that of the United States -- which may not be saying much" For more information, see: Jenny Leigh Smith, Works in Progress: Plans and Realities on Soviet Farms, 1930-1963 (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 2014).

Segment 2 | From the Archives; Harvest of Shame (Documentary film audio track -- selection; 1960).
 Download: MP3



Here is a short audio track selection from a classic television documentary, focusing on the plight of American migrant agricultural workers. Produced as an installment of the TV documentary series CBS Reports and broadcast on November 25, 1960 -- the day after Thanksgiving -- the segment was directed by Fred W. Friendly and hosted by Edward R. Murrow. The documentary marked Murrow's last appearance on "CBS Reports;" he had accepted John F. Kennedy's offer to head the United States Information Agency. For the full broadcast of Harvest of Shame, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJTVF_dya7E. For a retrospective account of Harvest of Shame and its impact (from National Public Radio), go to: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/31/317364146/in-confronting-poverty-harvest-of-shame-reaped-praise-and-criticism.

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October 20, 2015
Segment 1 | BackStory: "They Might Be Giants ~ China and the US (2015).
 Download: MP3



From BackStory and the American History Guys: "Americans have traded with China since the earliest days of the Republic. During the colonial era and for early Americans, China was a source of luxury goods like tea, porcelain, and silk. For some of their descendants, it was the destination for an illicit and lucrative trade in opium. Later, Chinese immigrants helped to build the American West. But the relationship between the two countries has often been fraught, with each side fearing that the other is seeking the upper hand. In this episode, Brian, Ed and Peter explore the long and often turbulent history between the two countries, now the top economies in the world. How does our past history with China color our present relationship?" Guests this week include: Gordon Chang, Stanford University; Nicholas Griffin, author of 'Ping Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game that Changed the World'; John Haddad, Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg; Madeline Hsu, University of Texas at Austin; Lisa Moorehouse, reporter and producer; Joe Orser, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. See http://backstoryradio.org/shows/china/ for more information.

Segment 2 | LibriVox Reading: The Book of Ser Marco Polo (c. 1300).
 Download: MP3



Perhaps more than any other person, Marco Polo helped initiate centuries of contact and trade between the West and China. Here is a selection from The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East, volume 1, translated by Henry Yule (1820 - 1889). He we offer a reading from the book, from LibriVox: "Books of the Marvels of the World" or "Description of the World" (Divisament dou monde), also nicknamed "Il Milione" ("The Million") or "Oriente Poliano", but commonly called "The Travels of Marco Polo", is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the travels of the latter through Asia, Persia, China, and Indonesia between 1271 and 1291.It's been a very famous and popular book since the 14th century, creating the image of Marco Polo as the icon of the bold traveller. Presenting Marco Polo as an important figure at the court of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, the book was written in Old French by Rustichello da Pisa, a romance author of the time, who was reportedly working from accounts which he had heard from Marco Polo when they were imprisoned in Genoa, having been captured while on a ship. This audiobook in two volumes uses the 1903 third edition of Sir Henry Yule's translation, revised by Henri Cordier. (Summary adapted from Wikipedia by Leni)." For the full reading, see; https://librivox.org/the-book-of--marco-polo-1-by-rustichello-da-pisa/.

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October 13, 2015
No broadcast this week. Check out our archive for past broadcasts.

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October 6, 2015
Segment 1 | BackStory: "Banned ~ A History of Censorship" (2015).
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From BackStory and the American History Guys: "September 27 marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating literature and the freedom to read, by highlighting and exploring efforts around the country to remove or restrict access to certain books. Indeed, Americans have sought to censor all kinds of things: music, radio, TV, and film have also run up against assumed limits on what is acceptable to say or portray. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian offer an uncut account of censorship in American politics, media, and culture—from rules designed to prevent the discussion of controversial subjects ranging from slavery to sex via the mail, to Hollywood's production code and censorship today. Recalling materials and individuals that have been suppressed or once incurred a censor’s wrath, BackStory’s hosts explore how the line between free speech and censorship has changed over time." Guests this week include: Sherman Alexie, author, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian;" Richard Bernstein, City College of New York; Thomas Doherty, Brandeis University; John Fialka, Gulf War Correspondent; Joanne Freeman, Yale University; Joe Galloway, War correspondent; Daniel Hallin, University of California, San Diego; RIchard John, Columbia University; Craig LaMay, Northwestern University; Leigh Schmidt, Washington University in St. Louis.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Louie, Louis." (1963).
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In keeping with the theme of this week, censorship, we offer a song that was banned by several radio stations in 1964 around the nation. Here is one account of why, from Dwight Rounds' The Year The Music Died, 1964-1972: "The words to 'Louie Louie' are almost impossible to understand, and are rumored to be obscene. No question that this added significantly to the sales of the single. There was probably a leak somewhere that the lyrics were obscene; otherwise no one would have realized it. This was the most ingenious marketing scheme ever. The FBI tried to track down Richard Berry, The Kingsmen, and various record company executives. They were never able to determine the actual lyrics used. To this day, the Kingsmen insist they said nothing lewd, despite the obvious mistake at the end of the instrumental, where Jack Ely started to sing the last verse one bar too soon, and can be heard yelling something in the background. Ely also said that he sung far away from the microphone, which caused the fuzzy sound, and that the notoriety was initiated by the record company." NPR actually ran a feature on the story behind the Kingsmen's version of Richard Berry's Louie, Louie [Go here to listen: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/02/403623915/louie-louie-indecipherable-or-indecent-an-fbi-investigation]. For the actual FBI report on its investigation of the song, see: https://vault.fbi.gov/louie-louie-the-song.

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September 29, 2015
Segment 1 | Open Source: "The Fate of the Union (with Steve Fraser)" (2015).
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Producer Chrisopher Lydon begins a three-part series, "produced in partnership with The Nation, on the state of work in America today with a little history. It's a contradictory story of a century marked by incredible change, of a great boom and then a slow bust of labor power that brings the story current and into the presidential campaign of 2016.Throughout the 20th century, organized labor was a central feature of American life. Our guide, the historian Steve Fraser, asks what happened—between Roosevelt and Reagan, between the UAW and Uber?" A full summary of the program can be found at http://radioopensource.org/the-fate-of-the-union/.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Jimmy Hoffa's Last Interview?" (Selection, 1975).
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Here is a short selection from the purported "last" interview with Jimmy Hoffa: "In the summer of 1975 Jimmy Hoffa sat down and gave his most frank and direct interview ever with eight men who questioned Hoffa on a wide range of subjects including a vendetta with Bobby Kennedy, mob ties to the teamsters union, Hoffa's threats to break a reporter's back, pay-offs, and much more. This astonishingly open dialogue from Hoffa lasted over two hours and, when Hoffa disappeared some weeks later on July 30th, 1975, unexpectedly became the last interview Jimmy Hoffa ever gave. Hidden for over thirty years." See the following for the video and information on obtaining the full interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-uP9qvVcEc. For information on Hoffa's life, along with a comprehensive bibliography, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Hoffa.

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