Thursday's Show

Totalitarianism in Russia

Thursday, we’re talking about what happened to Russia. The fall of the USSR was followed by a period of liberalization, and the country appeared to be on the path towards democracy. Then Vladimir Putin rose to power. He invaded neighboring countries. He led a crackdown on political opposition. He’s waging war on the concept of Western democracy. But where has his regime left Russia and its people? Journalist Masha Gessen joins us Tuesday to share what she’s learned about how totalitarianism reclaimed Russia.

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Miss Representation

Sep 16, 2011

Monday, Doug is joined by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, director of the film "Miss Representation." This is the latest in our Through the Lens film series. Siebel Newsom's documentary explores how women are portrayed in the media and the very real consequences this has on leadership in our society. Siebel Newsom says her film is meant to be what she calls a "change agent for our culture." It's a change she says will empower women and help America's productivity, creativity and bottom line.

Literary loves, like romantic ones, can be both joyous and painful. The critic Laura Miller was quite young when she met her first love - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But the relationship grew troubled when as a skeptical teen she began to learn about CS Lewis' Christian themes. How do you reconcile feelings of literary betrayal when the book was one that shaped who you are? Miller joins Doug to talk about the power of Narnia and the man who created it. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="">Andrew Sorensen</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

The “Star-Spangled Banner” is a song about war and resolve that began life as a drinking tune. We sing it all the time, but often struggle to sing it correctly.  Even professional musicians sometimes butcher our anthem. In a time of uncertainty about national unity, the anthem is one of the few things that can get thousands of Americans to stand up as one.  Guest host Matthew LaPlante looks at the song's complicated history and how it stacks up against other national anthems.

Thursday, We're talking about the life and career of Robert Redford. Biographer Michael Feeney Callan says he became interested in Redford because the actor is more than just a pop icon. As much as he's recognized for his legendary film roles, he is also known for his environmental activism and his impact on filmmaking through The Sundance Institute. But for all that, Redford has remained an enigmatic figure. Callan joins us to talk about the man he came to know in 15 years of writing "Robert Redford." (Rebroadcast)

Tuesday, Doug talks to the scholar Nadja Durbach about the age of the freak show. She's written a book that examines the era when so called "freaks of nature" were marketed and displayed for paying customers - figures like The Elephant Man and Laloo the "Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy." Durbach's interest goes beyond the questions of taste and exploitation. She found that these displays revealed something deeper about body differences and the idea of otherness. (Rebroadcast)

Among the Truthers

Sep 12, 2011

Journalist Jonathan Kay says that a vast conspiracist subculture is spreading like wildfire through North America. Kay spent two years trying to understand the people who adhere to incredible theories on everything from 9/11 and Barack Obama's birth to vaccines. Monday, he joins Doug to explain what he's learned about these "truthers," and why they may be doing real damage to the unity and health of our society. (Rebroadcast)


Sep 9, 2011

Friday on RadioWest we're talking about the eccentric chess genius Bobby Fischer. Frank Brady is our guest; he knew Fischer and has written a biography that explores his life. In 1972 at the height of the cold war, Bobby Fischer became the world chess champion by defeating the Soviet Boris Spassky. His success created a phenomenon. He became a superstar. but then he practically disappeared. His life came to be dominated by paranoia and fanatacism. The book is called "Endgame". (Rebroadcast)

Beethoven's Ninth

Sep 8, 2011

This Friday and Saturday, the Utah Symphony will perform an Beethoven Ninth Symphony under the direction of Maestro Thierry Fischer. We're taking the opportunity to rebroadcast our conversation on the story behind the most famous piece of classical music in Western culture. Our guest is the Harvard professor Thomas Forrest Kelly - who says that to appreciate the Ninth Symphony, you have to hear it the way audiences did when it was first performed in Vienna, in 1824.  (Rebroadcast)

Packing for Mars

Sep 7, 2011
<i>Image by <a href="">dotpolka</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Popular science writer Mary Roach says that when planning a space mission, everything that's taken for granted on Earth has to be "rethought, relearned and rehearsed." After all, flying a flag with no wind or managing to urinate in zero gravity is no easy feat. Roach's latest book is called "Packing for Mars," and she joins Doug for a look at space exploration and what it teaches us about being human. (Rebroadcast)

Tuesday on RadioWest the historian Will Bagley is with us to talk about his epic quest to chronicle the westward migration of American settlers. Bagley's book tells the story of the Overland Trails that brought more than half a million Americans to the far West of Oregon and California. It's the story of families and fortune hunters and the effect that all of it had the native people who for centuries had already been calling the West home. (Rebroadcast)



Order a Cell Mate BLT and meet the women working at Utah State Prison’s Serving Time Cafe.

Friday's Show

Wheeler Copperthwaite via CC/Flickr,

Cultural History of the Opiate Epidemic

The journalist Sam Quinones has called opiate addiction “the closest thing to enslavement that we have in America today.” It’s a scourge fueled by pharmaceutical companies and drug cartels, and it takes advantage of some heavy cultural baggage on either side of the border. Poor people in Mexico are looking for a leg up, while disaffected people in the world’s richest country just want to check out. Quinones joins us to discuss the culture of the opiate epidemic. (Rebroadcast)

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