Black Mormon

Aug 20, 2013

In 1836, Elijah Ables, a man of mixed-race, was ordained to the priesthood of the Mormon Church. He was a committed friend of Joseph Smith, and Ables dedicated himself to the faith. But in his lifetime, he'd see the Church ban blacks from full membership and his adopted home of Utah become a slave-holding territory. Historian Russell Stevenson has written a new biography of Elijah Ables, and Wednesday, he joins Doug to talk about Ables' life and Mormonism's racial history.

Josh Hanagarne stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and can bend horseshoes with his bare hands. He has Tourette’s syndrome and is given to noisy verbal tics. It may seem unlikely, but Hanagarne is also a librarian at Salt Lake City’s Main Library. The job fuels his inner bookworm. It also compels him to consistently maintain silence and self-control. Hanagarne has written a memoir about his struggles with the physical and mental challenges of Tourette’s, and he joins us to talk about it. (Rebroadcast)

Friday, Doug is joined by biographer Neal Thompson for a look at the strange and brilliant life of Robert "Believe It Or Not!" Ripley. Thompson says the message from Ripley's body of work – cartoons, books, radio programs, lectures and museums – is that he loved the underdog.  Ripley himself had been an awkward and outcast kid, but he was also curious and adventurous. We'll talk to Thompson about how Ripley built a media empire while feeding the public's hunger for the bizarre. (Rebroadcast)


Aug 2, 2013

Monday, Doug is joined by religion scholar Reza Aslan for a conversation about his latest book, ZEALOT. It's a biography of Jesus of Nazareth, not as he's come to be understood, but as a man living under Roman occupation during a time of religious and political upheaval. Aslan calls Jesus a man of passion who rose up not just against the empire, but also against leaders of his own faith. We'll talk about Jesus' life and times and about how the early Christian church transformed his story.

You've heard the lament that Washington DC is hopelessly divided, but journalist Mark Leibovich says the real problem is that everyone is interconnected. As he sees it, the new bipartisan ideal is getting rich, and whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, the ultimate goal is self-perpetuation. Leibovich has just published a scathing, insider's view called "This Town," and Monday, he joins Doug to pull back the curtain on the big politics, big money, big media and big egos that fuel our nation's capital.

Elna Baker

Jul 18, 2013

Four years ago, the comedienne and storyteller Elna Baker published her memoir, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. It’s about being a twenty-something Mormon virgin in a town – New York City – that doesn’t take kindly to that type. A lot has changed for Elna Baker since 2009: now she’s an ex-28-year-old virgin and ex-Mormon comedienne. Elna joins Doug to talk about leaving the church, her journey to Siberia and the challenges of honest storytelling. (Rebroadcast)

The Good Nurse

Jul 10, 2013

Charles Cullen seemed like a great nurse to many of his hospital coworkers. He was well qualified and always eager to take an unwanted shift. What they didn’t know was that Cullen was less interested in saving lives than ending them. He became perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history, killing as many as 300 patients. The journalist Charles Graeber has documented Cullen’s deadly career and how he managed to slip through the cracks of the world’s most trusted profession. He joins us Thursday to talk about it.

Tuesday on RadioWest, we're telling the strange story of an 18th century experiment in education. Thomas Day was a wealthy poet and philosopher who ran in all the right circles, but he also dressed terribly, could hijack a conversation and had extreme ideas about women, even for the time. Not surprisingly, he didn't have a lot of luck with the ladies … so he decided the only way to find a mate was to train her himself. Journalist and author Wendy Moore joins guest host Elaine Clark to talk about her book How to Create the Perfect Wife.

Few figures of America's westward expansion loom larger than Davy Crockett. True, that's due in part to Disney's larger-than-life portrayal of the “King of the Wild Frontier,” but he was actually a legend in his own time, too. In a new book about Crockett, the writer Bob Thompson chronicles the frontier legend's life and legacy, from his humble beginnings in eastern Tennessee, to his days as a celebrity politician, and of course his heroic death at the Alamo. Thompson joins us on Monday recount both the reality and the myth of Crockett's life.


Jun 21, 2013

Monday, Doug sits down with author Richard Rhodes, one of the foremost historians on the nuclear age. Rhodes is in town for a reading of his play "Reykjavik." It's about the 1986 summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, when Russia and the US began the process of reducing their nuclear arsenals. Rhodes says he was dazzled at the richness of the debate that went on between the two men and writing a play was a chance to reveal what happened behind closed doors. We'll talk about that meeting and its legacy today.