Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Inside Islam Chat with Mark LeVine

Joe Hardtke

Hey everyone! I'm just writing with an update on the Inside Islam chat with Mark LeVine, author of Heavy Metal Islam.

The chat will begin immediately after the broadcast ends at 5 p.m. (EST). You can join the chatroom at that time by going to the Inside Islam blog and following the instructions posted there tomorrow. Our Inside Islam blogger, Kaitlin, will moderate the chat along with Jean Feraca and maybe the rest of our staff joining in. (Hey, I went through my metal phase just like you.)

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Exciting Week...

Joe Hardtke

I hope you've been enjoying our programs this week, because big things are afoot behind the scenes at Here on Earth.

Thursday brings the broadcast debut of our Inside Islam series with a program on Heavy Metal. With it comes some cool little tricks from the Here on Earth interactive playbook. Heavy Metal Islam author Mark LeVine and Heavy Metal In Baghdad director Suroosh Alvi are the guests.

You'll be able to reach them live in all our usual ways: You can call our live number 1-800-642-1234. You can also instant message hereonearthradio at AOL or MSN, send an e-mail or post your thoughts at the Inside Islam blog or here at the Blog Without Borders. You could even leave your message before the show at our Here on Earth hotline.

But what excites me most is what we'll be doing after program. We're planning a post-show chat on-line with Jean and Mark LeVine, who's graciously offered to stay with us after the broadcast ends to talk with all of you. Keep your eyes peeled right here or at for further details. Dan and I hope to post them for you tomorrow.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Moose! - Airdate - 10/3/08 - 4 p.m. (ET)

Update - 10/03/08: The Moose show has aired. You can download the MP3 from our archive. Let us know what you think!

Maria Putzer

After reading this article in the New York Times about Sarah Palin, moose, and Alaska, we've gotten inspired to do a show about moose meat and are looking for guests. Do you know anyone who hunts or eats moose on a regular basis? Have you yourself tried moose? Leave us your suggestions and comments.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where Do You Find That Sound Clip?

Radio is about sound. A good sound clip is worth a thousand words for a radio program. So for each show, we producers spend a lot of time on the Internet or in video stores hunting for that perfect, short and punchy sound clip.

But sometimes the ideas come easily.

This past Wednesday's show is about a physician's journey to end nuclear madness. When Jean asked me to find some clips, the movie "On the Beach" immediately came to my mind. It's a movie with many of my personal memories.

I was introduced to this movie by a good friend and mentor of mine who was a foreign correspondent in Moscow when the movie came out in 1959 during the Cold War. A post-apocalyptic film about nuclear wars, the movie was banned in Soviet Union then of course, but many high officials in Moscow did watch it as part of their "internal reference information." My friend never forgot how shocked those officials were that the Americans could be so honest about the consequences of nuclear wars.

As a person growing up in a Communist country, I was intrigued by my friend's comments, so checked out the movie myself. The movie did not shock me but made me wonder why Hollywood has been so comfortable making and selling human disaster movies while in China that's almost impossible.

The second thing about the movie is its cast: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire. I was surprised that Fred Astaire had no dancing at all in the movie but played a serious role. How refreshing. Ava Gardner, Jean told me that her father always fell for Ava. For me, Gregory Peck is always special because I had a chance to meet him in person.

He came to Madison to give a talk in the Memorial Union Theater on Oct. 3, 1996. I was in my second year then studying journalism at UW-Madison. The talk would make a nice article for my Chinese hometown's newspaper so I went to see him. When he walked onto the stage, I could hardly recognize him because, at age 80, he had shrunk quite a bit. But when he opened his mouth, oh, thank goodness, that magnetic voice was still the same.

He entertained the audience for a full hour with fascinating personal stories and reflections. And he answered audience's questions with a great sense of humor and honesty. The most memorable question for me is the one from a man on the balcony. He said that during his 50 years of marriage, Mr. Peck was his only romantic competitor. But he was a generous man, so could Mr. Peck fly a kiss to his wife please? Peck obliged graciously among the laughter of the audience and embarrassment of the man's wife.

At the reception after the talk, I managed to sit down with Peck and asked him two simple questions. I have forgotten what the questions were, but I always remember how kind he was to take time to talk to a nervous foreign student like me.

That evening has gone by for 12 years. Mr. Peck has passed away for five years. But because of the sound clip, all that old memory rushes back to me. From my meeting with Mr. Peck, to my mentor's comments, to the radio show, life makes interesting connections. It's one nice part of growing older.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Two Days of Music...

Joe Hardtke

Update - 9/10/08: The Prasanna show has aired. You can download the MP3 from our archive.

Update - 9/11/08: The Nation Beat show has aired. You can download the MP3 from our archive. Let us know what you think!

Back on August 18th, we were joined in the studio by Esty Dinur for a preview of this year's Madison World Music Festival. It was a great show and you can download it in the Here on Earth archive. We promised you on this blog that we would try to line up some of the performers ahead of the festival which happens this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.

Well, my dear readers, I'm proud to say we've done just that.

On Wednesday's show, the versatile guitarist Prasanna will join us live from the Boston studios of WGBH. He'll play a couple of solo selections and discuss his latest CD Electric Ganesha Land.

Then on Thursday, it's the rich sounds of Nation Beat. They'll actually join us right here in our Madison studios for a stripped down performance.

Plenty of treats for you this week. And to our friends in Wisconsin: Don't forget to check out the festival this weekend. It's free, after all!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Inside Islam Blog is live!

Joe Hardtke

As you may have read at, Here on Earth is producing a series of programs with help from Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Social Science Research Council. The series is called Inside Islam. Jean has an in-depth post about the subject at her blog.

It's groundbreaking in that our lead blogger, Kaitlin, is creating a collective of websites and blogs from around the world. Pair that with brainpower from the University, funding assistance from the SSRC and the power of radio with Here on Earth, and you've got an interactive, multimedia experience ready to explore all aspects of the religion and the vibrant culture that surrounds it.

Our first show is titled "Heavy Metal Islam" and it's scheduled to air and web stream Thursday, September 25th at 4 p.m. (EST) with the podcast going out right after the program. We've already confirmed Mark Levine, author of the book with the same name. We're talking to other possible guests as we speak.

This is where you come in. Kaitlin, with help from the University, has created an blog exclusive to the project, also called Inside Islam. Bookmark that site, as we'll be using the blog to start a dialog on the subject and develop your ideas for the radio show.

And don't forget to bookmark us here at the Blog Without Borders, as we'll continue to give you access to the production side of the Inside Islam series. You can leave your ideas here as well. What guests should we book? What music should we feature? Have you seen any documentaries on the subject or read any good books?

Producer Dan Rosinsky-Larsson is leading the production effort for "Heavy Metal Islam" and I'm already producing sound for the show. Promos plugging the Inside Islam blog and series will hit the air today. I can't wait for you to hear them.

Let's start bloggin'...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Man on Wire

Joe Hardtke

Both Jean and I are really jazzed about the documentary film Man on Wire. You may have heard of Philippe Petit, the then-24-year-old Frenchman who walked a high wire between the two World Trade Center towers, the tallest buildings in the world circa 1974. James Marsh's film captures how just ten minutes of daring took months of preparation and led to years of complex emotions for all involved.

I've been put on a mission to book Mr. Petit and Mr. Marsh. I'll keep you posted on my progress right here. It's also my job to prepare the sound for this program, so please let me know if you have any ideas for music that evokes daring, danger and even beauty. Now there's a mix!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Is a single, smoker in NYC beautiful?

I sat in on today's show: Diversity on the Runway. (You can download the mp3 here.) A Dove commercial from a while back came to mind. Here's the video.

Beauty is a huge and complex issue for women but largely misunderstood in the mainstream. This includes men, regardless of sexual orientation (and lifestyle, including metrosexuality) or occupation. Every woman who has grown up watching Sex and the City or reading Seventeen has some sense of the mild panic mainstream beauty causes at some point or another. This usually occurs early in the morning when you're looking in the mirror or getting dressed.

When there's a model who breaks the mold, maybe a smoking New Yorker who mixes designer couture with flee market finds like SATC's Carrie, we get the message. Authentic beauty is best expressed in who you are, a unique style that fits only you. In high school, I thought that was nearly impossible in public. I planned outfits weeks in advance. At 23, it's easier but workplace attire expectations, I'm still not convinced authentic style can be mainstream.

Maybe I'm missing the message. A campaign on is betting that beauty can be authentic and mainstream. With a pledge to buy two magazines, you can support publishing a cover photo without photoshop or airbrushing: Show Our Beauty Campaign.

My question for readers is what is authentic beauty? And can it have mainstream commercial value without ruining the message? Feel free to bring in popular culture references. You know I love them.