In a run-down commercial block in Salt Lake City, Ralphael Plescia has spent some 50 years making art that tells the story of creation as he understands it. He’s hollowed out tunnels, built narrow bridges over bubbling groundwater, and his sculptures are embedded in the walls. Wednesday, we profile a new short film that asks why Ralphael has made this his life work and what will happen to it when he dies. We’ll also explore other “outsider” Utah artists who bring a unique view to our world.

Falconer on the Edge

Jul 1, 2014
Brian Grimmett, KUER

Tuesday, we're profiling one of America's greatest falconers, Utah native Steve Chindgren. Chindgren spends 6 months a year practicing his ancient sport on the sage prairies of Wyoming. Biographer Rachel Dickinson says it's not just about one man's passion though. Steve Chindgren hunts grouse with his falcons - and changes brought on by the mining and the energy industries could have a dire effect on them all. Chindgren and Dickinson join Doug to talk about the book "Falconer on the Edge." (Rebroadcast)

Autism in Utah

Jun 3, 2014
Utah illustrator Julia Adams

One in 54 Utah children have Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that's higher than nearly everywhere else in the US. So the obvious question is why? Researchers have yet to identify a cause, so we can't find easy answers in our environment or in our genetics. But Utah has been ahead of the curve on research, and it has a vibrant activist community with support from educators and lawmakers. Wednesday, Doug talks to a panel of guests about what we know and don't know about autism in Utah.

Photo by Ken Piorkowski via CC/Flickr

A recent botched prisoner execution in Oklahoma has poured new fuel on the fiery debate surrounding capital punishment in America. For some people, the pain of the punishment should approach that of the crime. For others, the death penalty is a reprehensible and frequently mishandled State endorsement of killing. Wednesday, we’ll hear from both sides of the debate, and ask this question: If America is going to execute criminals, could we be going about it a better way?

The Future of Radio

May 11, 2014
Photo by <a href="" target=_blank">Alan Levine</a>, CC via Flickr

What’s the future of radio? With all media seemingly destined to migrate to the Internet, where will that leave “radio,” as in that broadcast medium piped via invisible waves into a physical object with knobs and dials. And just what does the term “radio” mean these days? Is a podcast a form of radio or an Internet entertainment? A panel of guests from commercial and public radio joins us Monday to try to answer those questions and attempt to divine what lay in store for the most intimate medium.

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hasn't paid his grazing fees in 20 years, and supporters see it as an act of civil disobedience protesting BLM policy and federal ownership of the land where he grazes cattle. But when agents arrived to impound his herd earlier this month, Bundy answered with 1,000 protestors – including armed militia from around the country. Wednesday, we're talking about the standoff: who was there, why they showed up, and what it means for the ongoing debate over public lands in the West.

Thursday, we're talking about what journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely calls the final frontier of the LGBT movement: transgender youth. More parents and communities are debating how to raise kids who behave in ways that don't match their sex. Erdely joins us to talk about a Colorado family who sued their school for their child's right to be a girl. We'll also talk to Eri Hayward and her father. Eri is a young transgender woman from Utah County who, with the support of conservative LDS family, traveled to Thailand this summer for sexual reassignment surgery.

Flora Lichtman/Sharon Shattuck


You may have never heard of naturalist, biologist and biogeographer Alfred Russell Wallace, but chances are you're familiar with his greatest discovery: the theory of evolution by natural selection. Of course, Charles Darwin receives first billing for the theory of evolution, but Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin's, discovered the theory independent of his better-known colleague. Wallace's life was as grand as his scientific breakthroughs and Tuesday we'll make his acquaintance with the help of Harvard lecturer Andrew Berry.

Gary Oakeson

Tuesday, we're taking on full-puppet nudity with the musical Avenue Q and a look at the history of puppetry. Muppet-style characters may remind you of Sesame Street, but with songs like "The Internet Is For Porn," it's obvious Avenue Q is not for kids. The scholar Eileen Blumenthal says it's only been a century since puppets were "ghettoized" to children's entertainment. Doug talks to Blumenthal and others about a craft and tradition that may have you thinking differently about your cuddly puppet friends.

Esteemed painter Randall Lake travelled to Europe to hone his art and it was in France that he discovered Mormonism. He eventually settled in Utah, which has been his home since 1973. Over time, his paintings have reflected Lake's own journey -- from traditional landscapes as a dedicated Mormon to more daring works as an openly gay man. Monday, Doug sits down with Lake to talk about his life and his art. We'll also premiere photographer Michael Schoenfeld's short documentary about Randall Lake as part of our new VideoWest series.