Friday, December 23, 2011

Programs for the Week of 12/26

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): The Muslim Jesus: Who knew? And why didn’t we know? The Jesus of the Qur’an and the Hadith is a fascinating figure who points to the Prophet Mohammed in much the same way that John the Baptist points to Jesus. His mother, Maryam, the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an, has a chapter all her own, but there is no mention of Joseph. Both traditions share a belief in the Annunciation, the Virgin Birth, the Ascension, the Second Coming and the Day of Judgment. Most Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, which is, of course, the heart of Christology, but our amazing Muslim scholar, Suleiman Mourad acknowledged that references to both the crucifixion and the resurrection can, in fact, be found in Islamic scriptures, and that their existence had probably been suppressed for polemical reasons. I do believe this was one of our most illuminating Inside Islam programs, however controversial.

Monday: Vikings in the Attic (Encore): What does it mean to grow up Scandianvian? In his new book, Eric Dregni tracks down and explores the significant, and quite often bizarre historic sites, tales, and traditions of Scandinavia’s peculiar colony in the Midwest.

Tuesday: The 99 (Encore): What power do superheroes really have? Naif al-Mutawa believes that they can change the world. That’s why he created The 99: superheroes inspired by the 99 attributes of Allah. Together with The 99, Naif is out to fight radical Islam and Western misconceptions about Islam. Ever since, The 99 have teamed up with Superman to fight for a better world, and President Obama has publicly recognized the importance of Naif’s work.

Wednesday: Time for Outrage! (Encore): Stéphane Hessel is many things: former French Resistance leader, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, ambassador, former UN speechwriter, and in 1948, he helped draft the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his new book, which has sold more than 4 million copies across the globe, he calls for a return to the ideals that fueled the French Resistance...and for discontented citizens to stand up, get outraged and fight back against injustice.

Thursday: Making an Exit (Encore): Sarah Murray never thought about what would happen to her body after she died until her own father passed away, sending her off on a survey of funeral rites from around the world.

Friday: The Golden-Bristled Boar (Encore): When Jeffrey Greene moved to Burgundy, France, he had no idea he was entering prime boar country. After a neighbor presented him with a gift of half a boar stuffed into a black garbage bag, he became fascinated and began studying the history and lore of "the last ferocious beast of the forest," compiling some interesting recipes along the way.

With a limited staff on hand for the holidays, we’ve chosen to repeat some of our favorite 2011 Here on Earth programs for the coming week.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Programs for the Week of 12/19

Monday: The Barber Shop in the Tate Museum: When he is not making art, Faisal Abdu Allah runs a men's barbershop/salon. In fact, he even opened a barber's shop in the prestigious Tate museum in London, where he gave haircuts to visitors who ventured to sit in his barber's chair. This unusual performance artist is gutsy and fun, and has a lot to say!

Tuesday: Sea Change: Whales and the Future of our Oceans: Dr. Roger Payne, best known for discovering that Humpback whales sing songs, combines oceanography science with poetry to remind us that our survival hinges on the entire web of life.

Wednesday: The Muslim Jesus: Jesus has a unique role as a divine figure in Islam. He is highly revered and esteemed as a super prophet, on a par with Mohammed, and in certain respects, even above him. Two Islamic scholars join us to talk about how two of the world’s greatest faith traditions differ in their understanding of one of the most important religious figures of all time.

Thursday: The Jewish Annotated New Testament: What would a New Testament edited by Jewish scholars tell us about the Judeo-Christian heritage? Growing up as a secular Jew, Hebrew scholar Amy-Jill Levine remembers being accused of killing Christ even though she knew and loved many of the stories from the New Testament. In an attempt to reconcile the two traditions, she’s now the co-editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament which places the Christian scriptures in their original Jewish context.

Friday: Christmas in Africa: The pressure of shopping for the "perfect" Christmas tree, finding the "right" presents and serving up a sumptuous feast can drive a person to distraction during the holiday season. Today we'll pause and explore the simple joys of celebrating Christmas the African way.

For a very special variation on The Poetry Circle of the Air, please tune in to our show about the poetry of whales on Tuesday, December 20, when I’ll be making an equally special once-in-a-lifetime announcement. I’d love you to be there.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Programs for the Week of 12/12

Jean’s Pick of the Week: World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements: I was very happy with our choice of topic for Pearl Harbor Day: John Hunter, the creator of The World Peace Game, is not only a visionary teacher, he’s a great man. Those fourth grade students who get plunged into the complex matrix of The World Peace Game under his expert non-guidance, are lucky indeed. They emerge from his classroom as ready-made world citizens, and that’s a benefit to all of us.

Monday: The Feminine Divine: December 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and we’ve found the perfect guest to talk about the importance of the icon throughout Mexico and elsewhere. Nineteen years after the publishing sensation of Women Who Run With the Wolves, Jungian feminist Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés discusses the rise of the divine feminine and liberates the traditional image of the Blessed Mother in her new book, Untie the Strong Woman.

Tuesday: Christmas Music from The Rose Ensemble: If you’re planning on tuning out our one-day pledge drive, think again, because you’re in for a treat. The Rose Ensemble, one of the most renowned early music choirs in the country, sings Christmas music from three distinct traditions. It’s gorgeous stuff, guaranteed to bring you joy and lift your spirits.

Wednesday: Russia, America, and the Nutcracker: What do the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King, Gingerbread Soldiers and a Nutcracker-prince have in common with Tsarist Russia? How did a failed ballet come to represent all that is magical about the holiday season? And, how is the fate of kings, courts and states bound up with something as ethereal as ballet?

Thursday: Kingdom under Glass:

Friday: From the Jewish Heartland: Baklava studded with cranberries, turnovers made with sweet cherries from Michigan, rich Chicago cheesecakes, savory gefilte fish pounded out from Minnesota northern pike: immigrant Jews recreated the foods of their homelands working with what they found at hand.

As the winter solstice draws closer, we need each other more and more. Thank you for all your support throughout the year, but especially at this time.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Programs for the Week of 12/5

Jean’s Pick of the Week: The Pirates of Somalia: It’s true that it’s hard to break into journalism these days, so you have to admire a young man who’s been living in his parents’ basement in Chicago, writing boring market reports, who one day says, “What the hell,” and takes off for Puntland in a dilapidated Russian Avatar where he chews khat with Somali pirates and writes a book about them. Jay Bahadur’s hutzbah paid off big time.

Monday: Uncovering Hemingway's Cuba Archives: Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, IL, but found his true home in Cuba, where he wrote some of his greatest works. Fifty years after his death, his publisher’s granddaughter embarked on a quest to find Hemingway’s lost papers, leading to an unprecedented collaboration between Cuba and the United States to preserve a trove of never-before-seen letters and documents.

Tuesday: Why the West Rules - For Now: Few historians have been so bold as to try and answer the big questions of why and how the West came to dominate the world. Stanford historian, Dr. Ian Morris does just that, and then goes one step further, predicting what the next century will bring.

Wednesday: World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements: They face war, economic meltdowns, border disputes, ethnic strife, and the devastating effects of global warming, while trying to keep cool heads and guide their countries to peace, stability, and prosperity. And they are only in the fourth grade. John Hunter teaches children how to make peace, but can the lessons fourth-graders have to teach us really be learned?

Thursday: Is Burma Finally on a Path Toward Democracy?: Are Burma’s leaders serious about political reform? More than a decade after the military junta declared martial law, changed the country’s name to Myanmar, and killed thousands in pro-democracy crack-downs, is it finally loosening its strangle-hold?

Friday: From the Jewish Heartland: Baklava studded with cranberries, turnovers made with sweet cherries from Michigan, rich Chicago cheesecakes, savory gefilte fish pounded out from Minnesota northern pike: immigrant Jews recreated the foods of their homelands working with what they found at hand.

It’s December, my favorite month, the season of both darkness and light. Come enjoy it with us!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Programs for the Week of 11/28

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Who's in Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain: Although I misread Michael Gazzaniga – and had a heck of a time with his name – arguing about whether we humans have free will in the light of what we now know about the neuroscience of the brain was a real gray matter work-out. Professor Gazzaniga declared himself a bio-determinist in the course of the program – along with a number of callers, much to my surprise - but how does it alter our sense of who we are as human beings, I’d like to know, to believe there’s no such thing as free will? Are we all just a mess of neuro-connectictivity that can be tinkered with and altered at the whim of medical practitioners or, heaven forfend, the state? Even my atheist biochemist husband doesn’t believe that!

Monday: Arrivederci, Berlusconi!: Silvio Berlusconi dominated and divided Italian politics for over 17 years, more than anyone since Mussolini. But on November 12, his scandal-ridden reign finally came to an end, as the Italian people finally said basta to his rule.

Tuesday: 2011 Hours Against Hate: Launched by the State Department, the 2011 Hours Against Hate campaign wants to stop bigotry and promote respect by getting young people to pledge to spend time in a community different from their own. The campaign has gained worldwide attention and momentum, picking up volunteers from Turkey and Azerbaijan to Canada and the US.

Wednesday: The Pirates of Somalia: Somalia's pirates make world headlines as they disrupt international shipping with demands for multi-million dollar ransoms. But who are these modern-day buccaneers? Are they brazen criminals or displaced fishermen fighting for a livelihood? A close-up look at pirates in the Horn of Africa.

Thursday: The Folly of Fools: Leading evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers draws on forty years of research to examine the science of deceit. He claims that natural selection seems to favor self-deception, and that in order to deceive others we often have to deceive ourselves first.

Friday: Lidia's Italy in America: Lidia Bastianich, one of the most-loved chefs on television, offers a generous selection of stories and recipes collected from all parts of Italian America, showcasing the chef’s tradition of bringing Italian culture to American tables.

And now, to hurry home and start cooking!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! All of us Here on Earth are grateful for each and every one of you!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Programs for the Week of 11/21

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Listen to This: Joe Hardtke says music has the power to transcend time and place, as we Listen to This.

Monday: Free Will and the Science of the Brain: The "father of cognitive neuroscience," Michael Gazzaniga, makes a powerful and provocative argument for free will in his newest book Who's in Charge?

Tuesday: Never the Hope Itself - Love and Ghosts in Latin America and Haiti: A journalist describes his life as an NPR correspondent in Latin America, rubbing shoulders with migrants and shamans, presidents and his own household ghosts.

Wednesday: People of the Big Voice: In the late nineteenth century, a Wisconsin studio photographer began taking portraits of local Ho-Chunk families. Over the next six decades his lens captured generations of tribe members in more than 300 breathtaking photographs, fleshing out a remarkable narrative of a resilient people.

Thursday: Bless This Food (Encore): Do you say grace? Giving thanks for food is the most common form of prayer found the world over. In anticipation of Thanksgiving, we celebrate this universal cultural tradition with Adrian Butash, author of Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World.

Friday: Updating Vintage Holiday Recipes (Encore): Food is like language: to be alive it must be constantly changing. New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark understands this. A whole section of her new cookbook is devoted to Holiday Food that features vintage recipes with updated variations.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Programs for the Week of 11/14

Jean’s Pick of the Week: It Calls You Back: I remember Luis Rodriguez from an interview I did with him many years ago when his first memoir, Always Running, came out. All these years later he seems to have acquired a leathery patina and near guru status. What he exemplifies, it seems to me, is what Socrates tried to teach us at his trial in 399 BC: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Luis Rodriguiz reminds us that self-examination is a process that is never finished.

Monday: Listen to This!: Does music have the power to transcend time and place? Through his experience with music from Iceland to China, from France to Minneapolis, New Yorker music critic, Alex Ross, has learned that music has to power to transport us to places and times we might never visit otherwise.

Tuesday: Peace Corps Writers: 2001 Washington Post reported that the Peace Corps community is "churning out enough works - memoirs, novels, and books of poetry - to warrant a whole new genre: Peace Corps Literature." Two returned Peace Corps volunteers talk about the Peace Corps experiences that inspired their writing careers.

Wednesday: How Yoga Won the West: Journalist Ann Louise Bardach credits the Indian mystic Vivekananda with introducing yoga into the national conversation, back in 1893. The 31 year old mystic made a huge impact at the opening of the Parliament of Religions on Sept. 11, 1893, where he dazzled the audience with his show-stopping improvised talks on eastern philosophy - and yoga.

Thursday: Borderlands: Riding the Edge of America: A sixty-year-old biker rides the length of America’s borders, both south and north, to explore our conflicted relationship with our neighbors.

Friday: The Table Comes First: Never before has society cared so much about food, says New Yorker writer Adam Gotnip, with celebrity chefs and restaurants treated as places of pilgrimage. But have we come any closer to discovering the true meaning of food in our lives? The Table Comes First is one man’s quest to find the answer to that question.

I’ll be with family in New York later in the week, leaving Here on Earth in the very capable hands of my colleagues, Veronica Rueckert and Lori Skelton.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Programs for the Week of 11/7

Monday: A Muslim-American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said: In 1807, Omar Ibn Said, a wealthy Muslim scholar was captured and brought to the American south as a slave. Late in life, Omar was persuaded by abolitionists to write down his life story which has been newly edited and translated by a Yale professor.

Tuesday: TBA (Encore):

Wednesday: All-American Muslim: Are we ready for a Muslim Cosby Show? All-American Muslim, a new reality series that debuts on TLC on Sunday, November 13th, explores what it means to be Muslim in post-9/11 America as it follows the lives of five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Michigan.

Thursday: It Calls You Back: One Man’s Break with Gang Life: Luis Rodriguez chronicled his early life in L.A. as a young Chicano gang member in Always Running, a book that became a classic. Now, in his second memoir, he shows just how difficult it can be to break with the past even as an activist and one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature.

Friday: A Family Recipe for Veterans’ Day:: The fighting officially ended in World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. Veterans Day in the United States, and Remembrance Day in Canada, has become a time to remember and honor all wartime service. Cookbook author Wini Moranville has a story to tell about touring World War II battlefields in Normandy and a chicken recipe she discovered while she was there that uses the famous apple brandy of the region.

As the leaves fall and the color is swept away, it’s time to cling more closely to one another...

Happy November!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Programs for the Week of 10/31

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Vikings in the Attic: I’ve lived in Wisconsin almost thirty years; my son flourished at Eggplant Daycare, a parent co-op that operated in Madison back in the eighties; I’ve been a member of the UW Credit Union almost since the day I arrived; I shop regularly at the Willy Street Coop and buy dairy products from Organic Valley Family of Farms, but until last Tuesday when Eric Dregni enlightened us about how the Scandinavians shaped the culture of the Midwest, I never connected the dots. It’s wonderful to know the place where you live, it’s also wonderful to live there. Thank you, Eric. But you can keep the lutefisk.

Monday: Making an Exit: Sarah Murray never thought about what would happen to her body after she died until her own father passed away, sending her off on a survey of funeral rites from around the world.

Tuesday: Guantánamo: An American History: What’s the history of Guantánamo? How did the US come to occupy a part of Cuba? Harvard historian Jonathan Hansen got suspicious when the Bush administration defended its denial of due process to "detainees" at Guantánamo on the grounds that the prison is outside of US jurisdiction. What he reveals in his book, Guantánamo: An American History, illuminates how difficult it is to overcome our imperial past.

Wednesday: A Road from Lubumbashi: Most of us don’t realize that we are directly linked to the violence and poverty that persists in Congo through our choice of cell phones, play stations and other gadgets. Dan Banda’s film, A Road From Lubumbashi tells that story while also illuminating the ways in which we as consumers can help reduce the conflict.

Thursday: TBA (Encore):

Friday: Cooking Like Our Grandmothers: Michael Pollan suggests eating only foods our grandmothers would recognize as real food. Tamar Adler takes it to the next step – showing us how to cook like our grandmothers, with instinct, using all five senses and every part of an ingredient, and elevating simple food to the sublime. (Lori Skelton hosts)

Happy Halloween!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Programs for the Week of 10/24

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Interfaith Youth Core: Eboo Patel is a solid original thinker who, in my opinion, is moving the culture forward with his Interfaith Youth Corps which is now over 100,000 strong. What a great way to get young people working together in service to others, breaking down faith barriers in the process. W.E.B. du Bois once said that the defining issue of the twentieth century was race; Eboo Patel thinks that the defining issue of our own century is religious discord. By focusing on youth, he’s doing a whole lot to change that.

Monday: Songs of Kabir: Almost 500 years after his death, Kabir remains one of the world's most beloved poets. His poems are full of passion and paradox, of mind-bending riddles and exultant riffs, and a new translation of his poems, by one of India’s most renowned poets, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, brings Kabir’s poetry to life like never before.

Tuesday: Vikings in the Attic: What does it mean to grow up Scandianvian? In his new book, Eric Dregni tracks down and explores the significant, and quite often bizarre. historic sites, tales, and traditions of Scandinavia’s peculiar colony in the Midwest.

Wednesday: Powering the Future: Two centuries from now, when we run out of oil, gas and coal, will we still be able to generate electricity, run cars, and fly jet planes? Nobel Prize winning Physicist, Dr. Robert B. Laughlin believes we will—but only by using alternate sources of energy, like the sun, wind, animal waste, and even trash.

Thursday: India Calling: Anand Giridharadas grew up in America but returned to India, his parents’ country, to get a closer look at how the India they left had turned into the economic powerhouse that the whole world is watching.

Friday: Made in America: Lucy Lean traveled America, photographing and interviewing master chefs, and collecting their recipes that reinvent our classic and most beloved comfort foods.

That’s all, Folks! I’m headed for sunny Tampa. I’ll be back in time for a reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival on Sunday afternoon. It’s in the Wisconsin Studio of the Overture Center starting at 4:00pm. I hope to see you there!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Programs for the Week of 10/17

UPCOMING EVENT: Jean Feraca will be reading from the new edition of her memoir, I Hear Voices, at the Wisconsin Book Festival on Sunday, October 23, from 4:00 to 5:30 in the Wisconsin Studio of the Overture Center.  The reading will feature her new essay,

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Global Citizen Year: Earlier this year I attended the Summit of the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy at Wingspread in Racine, Wisconsin, where I met many visionary people including Abby Falik who is the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, “the Peace Corps for a new generation.” What’s thrilling about Abby’s story is that when she discovered she couldn’t join the Peace Corps after graduating from high school because she wasn’t old enough, she just wouldn’t take no for an answer. With her parents’ blessing, she took off on her own for Nicaragua and then Brazil, and with the hard lessons learned from those experiences plus a Harvard business degree , twelve years later she founded Global Citizen Year, a program that sends promising high school graduates into countries such as Guatemala and Senegal for a year of immersion in language, culture, and service. Kids come out transformed, young leaders ready for almost anything. I was so inspired by the spirit of the summit that I decided to launch a new series on citizen diplomacy this year on Here on Earth. Abby made for a grand start.

Monday: Upside: Good News About the World: Using the best available data, sociologist Bradley Wright shows us that things are not as bad as the media make them out to be. In his new book Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World, Wright reveals surprisingly uplifting facts about global poverty, disease, the environment, and sexual morality.

Tuesday: Jerusalem, Jerusalem: In James Carroll's Jerusalem, the city embodies the world’s greatest philosophies, and its worst impulses. It is a city of faith, wracked by war, a city constantly engaged in "a contest of life and death." And yet, it is also a place of hope, resurrection, consolation, and holds the key to understanding world history and reimagining world peace.

Wednesday: Bridging the Faith Divide: Eboo Patel and the Interfaith Youth Core: In 1998, Eboo Patel noticed that increased religious diversity in America was causing increased conflict. If religious extremists were recruiting young people, he reasoned, then those who believe in religious tolerance should do likewise, a realization that inspired the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization dedicated to service to others as a way of overcoming conflict.

Thursday: TBA:

Friday: TBA:

This is a short week for me as I’ll be heading to Tampa for the American Italian Historical Association’s annual conference on Thursday, but will be back in time to read from the new edition of my book at the Wisconsin Book Festival on Sunday. I hope to see you there!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Programs for the Week of 10/10

We’re heading into the fall pledge drive this week, and , as usual, we’ve put some extra thought into our programming. Expect lighter fare, and lots of uplift!

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Comics in the Classroom: If you’ve never yet had the pleasure of reading a really good graphic novel, I highly recommend American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang, who must surely have been a wunderkind. (sorry, I don’t know the Chinese for that). I probably wouldn’t have taken the trouble to read it had I not been a whole hour early for a physical therapy appointment yesterday, but think about what I would have missed – the Monkey King, a lesson on the four disciplines of kung-fu, what it’s like to be the only Chinese kid in an American classroom, and what an unexpected joy it is to read a really grown up comic book about kids! I loved it all. And Gene himself is now a grown up whiz kid without the attitude. Great stuff.

Monday: Columbus: When I saw that Laurence Bergreen had written a biography of Columbus, I jumped. The last time I had him on the show he talked about his amazing biography of Al Capone, which prompted Capone’s nephew to call in from somewhere near Al’s old hideout in northern Wisconsin. Bergreen’s biography of Magellan - Over the Edge of the World - kept my husband up in the middle of the night it was so mesmerizing. So my expectations for this one are very high. I don’t care how much has been written about Columbus – Bergreen will make it fresh. Consider this excerpt from a review: While we judge the man for being a plunderer, a harbinger of genocide and a megalomaniac, we see in Bergreen portrayal a man ridden with self doubt, who eventually lost royal backing and died destitute.

Tuesday: On Creativity and Slowing Down: Christian McEwen believes we get our best creative ideas in the most unlikely places-in the bathroom, on vacation, when we're daydreaming or just twiddling our thumbs. Drawing on literary and spiritual thinkers from Henry David Thoreau to Pablo Neruda, she extols the virtues of slowing down, and making time for creativity.

Wednesday: Integrative Medicine Man: Can empathy cure colds? Can art relieve the pain of hospital patients? For the last decade, Dr. David Rakel has been using integrative medicine, combining conventional and alternative medical treatments to transform the lives of his patients, and promote their long-term well-being.

Thursday: Global Citizen Year: An Alternative Peace Corps: Abby Falik was dismayed when she discovered she couldn’t join the Peace Corps after graduating from high school only because she hadn’t yet turned eighteen. So she started a Peace Corps of her own. Because of her, each yea, a corps of graduating seniors defer college to become Global Citizen Year Fellows in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Abby won the attention of the Clinton Foundation for her work.

Friday: Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager: You may have heard Brett Laidlaw on a recent episode of Wisconsin Life. This guy’s the real thing: he forages truly wild foods – chanterelles, nettles, berries, and trout fresh from the stream. He lays out the laws for mushroom hunting, curing bacon, laissez-faire gardening, and more. And best of all, he lives in a rural Wisconsin cabin.

I’ll be in Bayfield this Saturday with Jeffrey Potter, WPR Marketing Director. Come on by!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Programs for the Week of 10/3

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Time for Outrage!: Stephane Hessel has been around: He was captured by the Germans during the French occupation, he escaped and made his way to London where he teamed up with General de Gaulle and became one of the leaders of the Resistance. He was captured again by the Gestapo, and again escaped, but not before being water boarded three times. At 94, the man is like tempered steel, and his message, captured in 4,000 words that are resounding throughout the world, is that It’s Time for Outrage! Stand up for what you believe in, take to the streets and fight against injustice wherever you find it.

Monday: The Hare With Amber Eyes: When ceramic artist Edmund de Waal inherits a collection of ornamental Japanese carvings known as "netsuke," he becomes drawn to the story behind them, which becomes the story of his family that stretches through the centuries and across several countries.

Tuesday: Is There a Pan-Hispanic Culture? What is la hispanidad?: Half a billion people worldwide, from the United States and Latin America, to Spain and the Philippines, supposedly share a common identity, called la hispanidad. But what is la hispanidad, and how unified is Hispanic culture really? In their new book, Ilan Stavans and Iván Jaksic come up with a flexible understanding of the elusive concept, one that transcends borders and cultures.

Wednesday: Comics in the Classroom: Since its inception in 1933, the modern comic book has drawn the ire of parents, preachers, and teachers. But graphic novelist and teacher, Gene Luen Yang, believes the tradition of pictorial story-telling has deep historical roots and particular relevance in today’s classroom.

Thursday: Pico Iyer on Chucking it All (encore): Have you ever felt the urge to chuck it all, slip out the back door, and start life anew? That's just what the main character does in Finland's best loved novel, "The Year of the Hare" by Arto Paasilinna. Renowned travel writer Pico Iyer, who wrote the forward to the book, did the same thing when he left for Japan many years ago. He joins us to talk about the new North American edition of the book and about the benefits of leaving it all behind. (rebroadcast from 3/15/2011)

Friday: Apple Love: When you're looking to make that killer apple pie, should you opt for Granny Smith or Esopus Spitzenburg, Thomas Jefferson's favorite? Food writer Amy Traverso has written the definitive guide for all things apple, from recipes and preparation tips to history and lore.

Lori Skelton will be filling in my apple pie while I’m on my way to the glorious Bayfield Apple Festival this weekend. Go ahead. Eat it!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Programs for the Week of 9/26

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): India's Anti-Corruption Movement: I’ve been reading about Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in the New York Times, but it wasn’t until today’s show with New York Times correspondent Jim Yardley and political science professor Sumit Ganguly that its full import came home to me. I’ve been a little sad watching how the great figure of Ghandi has shrunk to a caricature in Bollywood movies and other expressions of Indian popular culture. It’s heartening now to witness the resurgence of his influence in what has become a special moment in Indian political history. Long live Ghandi, and hurrah for Hazare!

Monday: Healing the Heart of Democracy: In this year of the Arab spring, it's a good time to be reminded that democracy is a never-ending process. In his new book designed to re-invigorate American democracy in its most localized settings, and to connect it to those larger global movements that both inspire and disappoint us, Parker Palmer spells out what we can do to form habits of the heart conducive to embracing democracy's endless conflicts.

Tuesday: The Ride of Your Life (encore): Biking season isn't over quite yet! Whether you’re crazy about bikes or just appreciate a leisurely ride, you’ll fall in love with Robert Penn's story about circling the globe on a bike. In his book It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels, he explains how the bike continues to change our world. (rebroadcast from May 3rd, 2011)

Wednesday: Time for Outrage!: Stéphane Hessel is many things: former French Resistance leader, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, ambassador, former UN speechwriter, and in 1948, he helped draft the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his new book, which has sold more than 4 million copies across the globe, he calls for a return to the ideals that fueled the French Revolution...and for discontented citizens to stand up, get outraged and fight back against injustice.

Thursday: Bridging the Faith Divide: Eboo Patel and the Interfaith Youth Core: In 1998, Eboo Patel noticed that increased religious diversity in America was causing increased conflict. If religious extremists were recruiting young people, he reasoned, then those who believe in religious tolerance should do likewise, a realization that inspired the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization dedicated to service to others as a way of overcoming conflict.

Friday: Mission Street Food and the Pop-Up Restaurant: When Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz opened a food cart on Mission Street in San Francisco, they had no idea that it would catapult them into a "pop-up" restaurant. (If you're new to the term, a pop-up restaurant is one that typically operates clandestinely, sometimes in the middle of the night, inside a pre-existing restaurant.) With an ever changing menu of unique offerings concocted by guest chefs, Mission Street quickly gained a huge following and caused people to rethink the whole idea of a restaurant.

I can't believe it’s finally almost Friday!

Have a great weekend, everybody, and if you’re anywhere near Sundance Theater in Madison, I hear Werner Herzog’s 3D movie, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, with an extended run through the weekend,  is not to be missed.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Programs for the Week of 9/19

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Ayn Rand and American Politics: I've decided that the Ayn in Ayn Rand's name stands for irony. There are so many ironic inferences to be drawn from her life story, but chief among them, it seems to me, when you consider what a big footprint she’s left on the American political landscape is the fact that we are all suffering from a huge Cold War hangover. And that's supremely ironic given the fact that the Soviet Union doesn't even exist anymore! Why are we so upset about the auto industry and the banking bailout? Why are the Republicans so uncompromising? Why does the Tea Party hate Obama's plan for health care reform? It's all because we’re afraid of a Communist takeover! And what did Ayn Rand herself become? An inverse Marxist fundamentalist. Think about that for a moment. Our current political reality is based on fear of a bogeyman who's already imploded. And she was all about REASON. How rational is that?

Monday: Indigo - The Color that Seduced the World (encore): Indigo, "the bluest of blues," is not just a color, but, as Catherine McKinley puts it, "an attempt to capture beauty." Inspired by her own ancestral entanglement with Indigo, Catherine set out to learn from the last master dyers of West Africa and discovered amazing stories of wealth, power, and divine meaning (rebroadcast from June 1st, 2011).

Tuesday: Murder in Lascaux: The mysterious prehistoric caves in the south of France are the scene of a murder in a new novel by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden, professors emeriti at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Typical of this dynamic husband and wife team who lived near Lascaux, it's mystery and murder with art, history, and, of course, a great dollop of French food thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday: The Poetry Circle of the Air: In a variation on an old and beloved theme, poet Molly Peacock joins us again this September 21, the day of the fall equinox, together with guest editor Priscila Uppal to give us a preview of the 2011 Best Canadian Poetry in English anthology due out next month.

Thursday: India's Anti-Corruption Movement: Sixty-four years after Gandhi's non-violent movement brought an end to British rule in India, the Indian masses are back in the streets. Led by Anna Hazare, a man whom many hail as a new Gandhi, the movement is going after their own leaders this time, protesting the government's failure to address wide-spread and rampant corruption.

Friday: Eating Smart in France: Don't know your escargot from your maquereau? Ronnie Hess is here to help. Whether you’re searching for an authentic restaurant in Paris, or cooking coq au vin in your own kitchen, here's what you need to know to experience the essence of French culture through its cuisine.

Bon Appetit!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Programs for the Week of 9/12

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): The Little Free Libraries Project: What is it about the appeal of the miniature? Rick Brooks and Tod Bol really hit it big time with their Little Free Libraries, which are now popping up everywhere. Even my friend in Oxford has seen them. Still, it’s a bit mysterious to me exactly why they have caught on. Is it our hankering for community, both visible and invisible? For books themselves as cultural artifacts as they begin to disappear? For something that does an end run around the consumerism trap? I’m really curious. If you have some idea about why big birdhouses filled with books that are free for the taking would go viral and become a global phenomenon, please let me know.

Monday: Rediscovering the Lost City of Machu Picchu: In 1911, American explorer Hiram Bingham climbed into the Andes Mountains and "discovered" the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. One hundred years later, the site remains as fascinating, yet mysterious, as ever. In his new book, travel writer Mark Brooks journeys to Peru to retrace Bingham's steps to try and finally answer the question: Just exactly what was Machu Picchu?

Tuesday: Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged, has become one of the most polarizing figures in American culture, but how much do we really know about her life? History professor Jennifer Burns spent years poring over Rand's private papers and journals, offering a reassessment of the author's life, and her impact on the current conservative political movement.

Wednesday: The King's Speech (encore): While the American public sees the Oscar-nominated film "The King's Speech" as a story about the king heroically overcoming his personal limitations in the face of great adversity, the same film in the UK is perceived as being a story about class differences. What does the film teach us about class in the UK? How did you see "The King's Speech?" (rebroadcast from February 21st, 2011)

Thursday: The Wabi-Sabi Way (Encore): Do you love your rusty, dented old wheelbarrow? How Wabi-Sabi of you! A philosophy of seeing and homemaking, wabi-sabi has its roots in Japanese Zen Buddhism, but it's all about the imperfection of dried leaves, rather than the perfection of a fresh cherry blossom. (rebroadcast from June 2nd, 2011)

Friday: The Golden-Bristled Boar: When Jeffrey Greene moved to Burgundy, France, he had no idea he was entering prime boar country. After a neighbor presented him with a gift of half a boar stuffed into a black garbage bag, he became fascinated and began studying the history and lore of "the last ferocious beast of the forest," compiling some interesting recipes along the way.

While we’re hunting for wild boar, let me remind you that our two current openings for Here on Earth producers (go to for info.) are still not filled. So, if you know of a likely candidate, please encourage him or her to apply.



Friday, September 2, 2011

Programs for the Week of 9/5

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Slow Violence: Rob Nixon (Slow Violence...) opened my eyes to a whole different environmental ethos coming from the Global South. He piqued my appetite for wanting to know more about writers such as Nigeria’s Ken Saro-Wiwa, Africa’s first environmental martyr, and India’s Indra Sinha who wrote the novel Animal’s People about the afterlife of the Bhopal disaster. Unlike their North American elder cousins – Thoreau, Muir, and Leopold - these writers do not separate humans from nature, and they are passionate about bringing to light the fact that environmental degradation violates people every bit as much as it violates the earth itself.Our Guest producer Chris Malina picked his program Odd Bits as his favorite of the week; watch the video to hear why!

Monday: Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire (encore): 2011 marks the one hundred year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City. We celebrate Labor Day by remembering its victims and the labor law successes of the early 20th century. (Rebroadcast from April 11, 2011)

Tuesday: Chasing Carnegie: The Little Free Libraries Project: Rick Brooks and Todd Bol, two Wisconsin men, are promoting worldwide literacy and building community, one Little Free Library at a time...and one could soon be coming to a neighborhood near you. Together, they’re on a quest to break Andrew Carnegie's record of creating over 2,500 free libraries.

Wednesday: Somalia through Nuruddin Farah's Eyes: Winner of the Neustadt Prize and frequent nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah has been writing about his homeland for over 40 years. His works are full of love and longing for the country he left behind, and concern for the direction in which Somalia is heading.

Thursday: Transforming a Nation's Trauma: Nationally recognized citizen diplomat Sahar Taman and Rev. Robert Chase, head of Intersections International in New York City, are collecting and planning affirmative commemorations for the decade anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Beyond Islam, beyond terror, they see the anniversary as a time to deepen community and seek transformation as individuals and as a nation.

Friday: The Cuban Kitchen: Raquel Rabade Roque's The Cuban Kitchen was such a hit in Spanish that she rewrote it to be published in English. She'll give us a tour of the Cuban coffee counters of Miami and the tastes of an ever evolving Cuban-American cuisine.

Wishing you a labor-free Labor Day weekend and juicy end-of-summer bash -


Friday, August 26, 2011

Programs for the Week of 8/29

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Redeemers: Power Brokers Who Shaped Latin America: Just before going on the air on Tuesday, I got a call from Wisconsin’s former Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton who has an abiding interest in the politics of Latin America. She was effusive. “Oh, I just found out that you have Enrique Krauze on your show today. What a coup! He is so great!” And so he was, blazing a path through Latin America’s complicated political and intellectual history, bringing to life the great literary and revolutionary figures from the past whose legacy endures today. Best of all was the overall message: the image of the caudillo that began with Simon Bolivar who famously prophesied, “Out of my grave a thousand dictators will spring,” may very well end with the post-modern caudillo Hugo Chaves. Democracy has taken hold south of the border. Maybe we should pay closer attention. We might learn something.

Monday: The Inter-Species Language of Grief: Ever since her husband lost the ability to speak after suffering a stroke, Diane Ackerman has been grieving. She finds that, out of empathy, her acute sense of loss has connected her with the losses and grieving of others, including animals.

Tuesday: Environmental Degradation as Slow Violence: Nigerian activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, refused to let the oil industry's disastrous effect on his community go unnoticed. He's just one voice showcased in Rob Nixon's new book urging us to see environmental degradation as a kind of slow violence affecting the poorest in our communities.

Wednesday: Pearl Buck in China (encore): A blond blue-eyed daughter of a Presbyterian missionary, Pearl Buck grew up in rural China amid bandit raids, beheadings and battles, when infant girls were strangled and thrown to the dogs. Helen Spurling's biography looks at the years that shaped Buck as a writer and gave her magic power. (Rebroadcast from July 19, 2010)

Thursday: Rambunctious Nature: Environmentalist Emma Marris says it's time to abandon the idea of preserving nature in its pristine state, and move forward instead with creating the "rambunctious garden," which she describes as "a hybrid of wild nature and human management."

Friday: Odd Bits: When it comes to meat, the prime cuts seem to get all the attention. Australian Jennifer McLagan, author of the infamous "Fat," explores why we shy away from odd bits, from tongues and brains, to gizzards and trotters, their taste potential, and how we can approach them with more confidence in the kitchen.

It’s sad to see summer fade away, especially after such a glorious – and mosquito free – month in Wisconsin. No dog days this August. Happy grilling!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Programs for the Week of 8/22

Nota Bene: Here on Earth is still looking for two new producers. For more information about the openings, please go to our website:

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): The Food We Brought

Monday: Sufism in the West: One of my most memorable interviews some years ago was with Pir Vilayat Inayat-Khan, then head of the Sufi Order of the West, a man who was hang-gliding in his eighties. His son, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan has succeeded him as the head of the Sufi Order International, an organization begun by his grandfather in the early 20th century to bring Sufism to the West. He joins us to talk about how he bends the mystic tradition and inter-faith work to remedy the world’s most pressing issues.

Tuesday: Redeemers: Power Brokers Who Shaped Latin America: Evita Perón, Che Guevera, Hugo Chavez. Latin America has had its share of strong leaders. Enrique Krauze, one of Latin America's leading intellectuals, brings to life the ideas and figures that shaped a continent.

Wednesday: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen (encore): Journalist Christopher McDougall gathered information about the Tarahumara, a little known tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners who live in Mexico's Copper Canyon and can outlast any animal on earth. (Rebroadcast from 8/17/2010)

Thursday: Mindfulness and Medicine: For patients with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, it can be hard to find comfort in the face of death. Susan Bauer-Wu and Elana Rosenbaum, who both encountered cancer in their personal lives, are medical professionals who teach the practice of mindfulness as a way for patients to rediscover strength and serenity.

Friday: We All Scream for Ice Cream: Be it soft-serve, gelato, Indian kulfi or Isreali glida, some form of ice cream treat can be found throughout the world in restaurants and home freezers. Ice cream’s story is a tale populated with Chinese emperors, English kings, Italian hokey-pokey street vendors and a gourmand American First Lady.

Nobody can say we're not eclectic!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Programs for the Week of 8/15

Applications for our two openings for Here on Earth producers are beginning to trickle in. Please go to

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Robert Jay Lifton's Life of Listening: What I liked this week is the way Robert Jay Lifton's perspective on the psychology of war connected to Helen Benedict's expose of what it’s like to be an American woman in combat, and that program led, in turn to Pumla Gobodo-Madikezela's extraordinary exploration of the power of forgiveness in post-apartheid South Africa. Honest, folks, we didn't plan it that way!

Monday: Who Are We?: Gary Younge is a black British male of Caribbean descent who speaks Russian and French and lives the United States. So who is he? Better yet, who are we? We'll discuss the influence of identity in our lives and in our world, and we'll try to discern when its influence is a problem and when it's not.

Tuesday: Elvis Lives!: As of today, the 34th anniversary of the death of the King of Rock n Roll, there are 200,000 Elvis impersonators worldwide, from Mexico's El Vez to Japan’s Yasuma Mori who sings about his blue suede kimono.

Wednesday: Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: To help the Afghan people, Suraya Sadeed made many harrowing attempts to traffic cash and supplies under the noses of Iranian border guards, drug runners, and suicide bombers. She concealed an estimated $100,000 in U.S. cash by strapping it to her stomach and feigning pregnancy while slipping past the Taliban.

Thursday: Global Word Play (encore): How many ways are there to say "believe me" in the world? In English, we say "I'm not pulling your leg." In Russian, the phrase is "I'm not hanging noodles from your ear." We’re reaching back to 2009 for this incredibly fun hour with author Jag Bhalla about the amusing ways different cultures describe their world. (Rebroadcast from June 24, 2009)

Friday: TBA:

Lori will be filling in for me this Friday while I am at the Christine Center's Interfaith Retreat about the 13th century encounter that took place between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Malak-al Kamil. Rich stuff. I call it l. Rich stuff. I call it "champagne for the soul."


Friday, August 5, 2011

Programs for the Week of 8/8

***Announcing two Here on Earth producer openings:******
We currently have two producer positions open on Here on Earth: one is three-quarter time with benefits and academic staff status; the other is a half-time position with no benefits but the possibility of a future upgrade. If any of you are interested in applying, or know someone who might be, please go to the above links for full descriptions of both positions, or email me directly: We are very sorry to be losing our excellent Here on Earth producers, Carly Yuenger and Dominique Haller, within a month of each other, and are anxious to find their replacements. Please help us spread the word. Here on Earth is committed to bringing good news of the earth and its people, to fostering cross-cultural understanding and to encouraging world citizenship. Plus, we have a lot of fun.

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Norway Responds to Terror: Kudos to ace producer Carly Yuenger who snagged former Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik for today’s show. A better guest to suss out Norway’s extraordinary response to its recent homegrown terror attacks I cannot imagine. As the founder and president of Norway’s Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, he was able to give real perspective and depth to his country’s long record on human rights and commitment to openness and freedom. We’ll see what kind of compromises Norway may have to make in the future, but so far, they are inspiring.

Monday: Ramadan: The Feast and the Fast (encore): Since Ramadan began last Monday, which represents a particular hardship for American Muslims, we thought you might enjoy learning about how different the experience of Ramadan can be depending on where you happen to find yourself. Compare fasting here in America in the heat of long summer days to countries like Syria where everyone sleeps all day and feasts all night (unless they happen to be under siege, of course). (Rebroadcast from September 1, 2009)

Tuesday: Robert Jay Lifton's Life of Listening: In his new memoir, psycho-historian Robert Jay Lifton says that he's spent most of his life listening. From talking to victims of Chinese thought reform, to Japanese survivors of Hiroshima, to Nazi doctors, he bore witness to some of the 20th century’s darkest moments and responded with hope and activism.

Wednesday: Sand Queen: In the process of interviewing women veterans of the Iraq war for her book, The Lonely Soldier, Helen Benedict noticed that when questioned about their experiences with sexual harassment, many of these women remained silent. So Helen decided to write the novel SAND QUEEN to give voice to the unspeakable.

Thursday: The Power of Forgiveness: What is it about expressions of remorse and apology that open the door to forgiveness? Few people are better suited to exploring this question than Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a psychologist and commissioner for South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Friday: Rooster Sauce: "Rooster Sauce," as Sriracha (rhymes with Feraca but no relation) is commonly known, can be found in the home, at the corner diner, and behind the scenes in some of America's top restaurants. You'll enjoy exploring the endless possibilities of cooking with this favorite hot sauce with Lori Skelton sitting in for me while I set out for the Christine Center to facilitate this year's Interfaith Retreat with Sufi master Jamal Rahman and Wheaton Franciscan Gabrielle Uhlein. (see last Tuesday's show: Francis and the Sultan – also my favorite.)

For more information about Francis and The Sultan, go to or just call 715-267-7507. I hope to see you there August 12-14. The Christine Center is a very special place of pilgrimage and hermitage set deep in the heart of Wisconsin’s Amish country and I am particularly excited about this year’s timely retreat with Jamal and Gabrielle, two people alive with joy. Come if you can. Dance and sing.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Programs for the Week of 8/1

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Is Democracy Coming to China?: MIT Professor Edward Steinfeld cast new light on China as a country that, in his view, is inching its way toward democratic reform, following in the footsteps of Taiwan and South Korea. Particularly fascinating to me were the passing references to artists Han Han and Ai WeiWei who both remind me of Frank Zappa.

Monday: The Dacha Days of Summer: For centuries, Russian city dwellers have spent their summers relaxing and gardening at rural cottages called dachas. (like gotcha!) Mellissa Caldwell spoke to hundreds of "dachniki" about their beliefs in the healing power of land and the strange way time passes in the country, leading to her conclusion: To understand the dacha is to understand the Russian soul.

Tuesday: St. Francis and the Sultan: When St. Francis crossed enemy lines to meet the Sultan Malek el-Kamil during a Crusade, he fully expected to be martyred. Instead, he was embraced as a friend. Hear the full story when I talk with Muslim Sufi master Jamal Rahman and Gabrielle Uhlein, a Franciscan sister, who are teaming up for the Christine Center's third annual interfaith retreat (to be facilitated by yours truly).

To register for this Interfaith retreat, call 715-267-7507 or e-mail the Christine Center at

Wednesday: Norway's Response to Tragedy: In the wake of the recent massacre in Norway, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told the world, "The answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity." Will Norway be able to sustain its commitment to openness and tolerance?

Thursday: TBA:

Friday: Kings of Pastry: Sixteen of France's top pastry chefs compete for the ultimate accolade, the collar of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, best craftsmen of France, in the "Kings of Pastry" competition. The contest takes place every four years and involves 16 chefs over three exhausting days concocting 40 different recipes in a race against the clock.

On a personal note, our technical wizard, the man usually responsible for all the great sound and music in the program, Joe Hardtke has suffered an injury, having broken his collar bone last weekend, and undergone surgery on Wednesday of this week. Also soon to be among the missing is our beloved Swiss Miss, Dominique Haller, who will be leaving us next month to become a full-time graduate student in the art department. If you happen to know of any likely candidates for the position of Here on Earth producer, we’re anticipating at least one, and maybe two openings to be announced in the near future. Stay tuned and meanwhile, pray for us!



Friday, July 22, 2011

Programs for the Week of 7/25

We have an amazing line-up next week, beginning with Sarah Chayes unwrapping Afghanistan, followed by some very positive news about the future of China, and then John Nichols weighs in on media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the gathering storm over tabloid email hacking in Britain…

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Saved By Beauty in Iran: Tough, there have been so many great programs this week, - I dearly loved Tony Perrottet’s Sinner’s Tour of Europe, ditto with yesterday’s show about Terence Malick’s new film, The Tree of Life – as Joe said, “It was a chin scratcher” - but since I must choose, my hat goes off to Saved by Beauty, Roger Housden’s harrowing and yet loving account of his two months in Iran. Given the nature of live radio, we never got to the heart of the matter – the profound shift in essential identity that the experience of detention and interrogation brought about in Housden’s psyche. And then he comes home and goes through a parallel experience when he’s questioned by the FBI! Truly amazing stuff.

Monday: The Karzai Brothers and The Future of Afghanistan: Former NPR correspondent Sarah Chayes has been an insider in Afghanistan since she left NPR to help rebuild a country devastated by decades of war. She says there’s a clear connection between what’s going on there now and the Arab Spring.

Tuesday: Is Democracy Coming to China?: Everyone knows about the changes in the Chinese economy. But while much of our political coverage of China focuses on its human rights abuses, some voices are saying that China is experiencing real political change as well. MIT professor Edward Steinfeld joins us to discuss why he thinks that China is on its way to democracy.

Wednesday: Rupert Murdoch’s Empire in Crisis: With all the ink that’s been lavished on the tabloid crisis in Britain, there’s not much being said about Murdoch’s links to the US. What about Fox and the American media?

Thursday: Unnatural Selection: From Albania to Vietnam, fewer and fewer girls are being born. While we are quick to point to patriarchial traditions to explain the phenomenon, we tend to overlook one important aspect of the problem: recently introduced technology that makes what journalist Mara Hvistendahl dubs "Unnatural Selection."

Friday: Mexican Ice Pops: Cool down the heat, bring out the frozen treats! Paletas are the traditional Mexican version of the ice pop, and Fany Gerson, celebrated pastry chef and paletas enthusiast, knows all about how to make the magic of fruit and ice work to perfection.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Programs for the Week of July 18, 2011

Jean’s Pick of the Week: French Seduction: Apart from the chance to air a little of my high school French, my conversation with New York Times Paris correspondent Elaine Sciolino about, La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, her new book, was easily my favorite this week. Elaine is a dream to talk to – very spontaneous, very American, and very down-to-earth – and her insights into seduction as the governing mode of French life are simply priceless.

Monday: Literature of the Arab Spring: Translation pioneers, Words Without Borders, has just published their first collection of literature dealing with the Arab Spring. Work old and new from Algeria to Egypt that illuminates the revolutionary spirit.

Tuesday: The Sinner's Grand Tour: In his series, Tony Perrottet called his bathhouse and brothel hopping trip through Europe the "pervert's" tour. But, more than the perverse, he found that the hidden history of the erotic reveals more about life, art, and the history of a place than any regular European vacation ever could.

Wednesday: Saved By Beauty in Iran: What happens when, in 2009, a British-American poet fulfills his lifelong dream of exploring Persia's literary tradition firsthand? Iran's spectacular living culture and the depth of its soul is set into relief by his eventual detention and interrogation by Iranian security.

Thursday: Tree of Life: Terrence Malick's latest film garnered both boos and cheers at its premiere in Cannes before winning the festivals main prize, the Palme d'Or. The film's ambitious scope invites us to think about eternal questions: What is the nature of our existence? Why does pain exist if there is a just God? Film scholar and critic David Sterritt and Professor of English, Religion, and Classics Barbara Newman will join us to share their take on this exceptional film.

Friday: Cooking from the Garden: You have a garden, you're excited to cook with your own produce, you religiously stick to your favorite recipe, and: it doesn't taste good. How many times has that happened to you? Deborah Madison joins us to discuss how to slowly let go of that recipe book to better respect our garden's individual quirks.

I'm off to Bear Lake. Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Programs for the Week of July 11, 2011

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): The Story of Charlotte's Web: My Pick of the Week: It took E.B. White sixteen takes before he could get through a recording of Charlotte’s Web without breaking into tears. I had exactly the same problem when I first discovered the book in reading it to my kids, and even our crusty tech Joe, who grew up on a dairy farm, teared up thinking about his own first encounter with it. I especially enjoyed hearing from our last caller who had grown up on a farm and preferred Marjorie Rawlings The Yearling because of its brutal honesty about the reality of farm life in the rural South. But to my mind that just pointed up the uniqueness of the way E.B. White wove whimsy with science, as skillfully as Charlotte herself. What a delightful hour. Thanks to all of you.

Monday: Hush, Baby, Hush: All around the world, for as long as babies have fretted, those who care for them have been making up lullabies on the spot, passing them on, and sometimes, written them down. What's your favorite lullaby?

Tuesday: French Seduction: In La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, New York Times' Paris Correspondent, Elaine Sciolino navigates the Parisian maze of unspoken assumptions about the cultivation of pleasure, and the hidden truth about French life: it's all about seduction.

Wednesday: Rescuing Regina: The harrowing true story of a feisty nun, a ferocious lawyer, and a group of grassroots volunteers who set aside political differences in a race to save a Congolese torture survivor from deportation and almost certain death. Along the way, Sister Josephe holds America’s hidden asylum system up for long overdue scrutiny.

Thursday: Zen and the Art of Firefighting: In 2008 a wildfire nearly destroyed the Tassajara Zen Center in the Ventana wilderness of southern California, but five monks including one woman with no firefighting experience were able to fend off the flames. Colleen Morton Busch and Mako Voelkel join us to describe how Zen mind beats fire.

Friday: T.B.A.:


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Here on Earth Summer Reading Without Borders List, 2011! 7/7

Poland: Stone Upon Stone by Wieslaw Mysliwski, (b. 1932 ) trans. from the Polish by Bill Johnston

Czech Republic: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced of Age by Bohumil Hrabal, (b. 1914 – d. 1997 ) trans. from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim

Portugal: The Land at the End of the World by Antonio Lobo Antunes (b. 1942) trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

Spain: Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas (b. 1948), trans. from the Spanish by Anne McLean

France: Lightning by Jean Echenoz, (b. 1947) trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale

Swedish-Finnish novelist: Fair Play by Tove Jansson (b. 1914 – d.2001), translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal

Japan: The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto (b. 1964) , trans. from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich

Germany: Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger, (b. 1975 ) trans. from the German by Benjamin Ross

Spain: Guadalajara by Quim Monzo, (b. 1952) trans. from the Catalan by Peter Bush

Russia: The Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin, (b. 1955 ) trans. from the Russian by Jamey Gambrill

Serbia Leeches by David Albahari, (b. 1948) trans. from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursac

Friday, July 1, 2011

Programs for the Week of July 4

Monday: An Artist’s Jaunt Through American History (encore): What figure in American history makes you feel warm and fuzzy about democracy? Illustrator and Israeli immigrant Maira Kalman set out, Alexis deToqueville style, to document democracy in America circa 2009. The result is an optimistic love letter to America that reminds us all of what we have to be proud of this Independence Day. (Rebroadcast from 11/1/10)

Tuesday: America and Pakistan: The First 60 Years: At the time of Pakistan's founding a scant 60 years ago, it was the first and only democracy in the Muslim world, a country whose citizens would elect those who govern them. A Pakistani-American at the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy's Summit drew fascinating comparisons between Pakistan and the first 60 years of U.S. history. Despite obvious differences between our two countries, there are striking parallels.

Wednesday: The Story of Charlotte's Web: About himself, E.B. White once wrote: "This boy felt for animals a kinship he never felt for people." He wasn't alone: talking animals abound in literature all over the globe. Who is your favorite literary talking animal?

Thursday: Summer Reading Without Borders: The 2011 Champion of literature in translation, publisher Chad Post, joins us once again to talk about all the best newly translated books for English readers. We hear about a rambunctious Polish farmer, the wild life of inventor Nikola Tesla, and what really happened inside the Trojan Horse.

Friday: For Cod and Country: With so many species in rapid decline, is eating fish really sustainable? Esquire chef of the year Barton Seaver says yes and shows us how, featuring seafood that hasn't been overfished or caught in an environmentally destructive way.

Doesn’t everybody love the Fourth of July? Have a safe and happy holiday.


Homebaking, Southern Style 7/1

Dominique Haller / Carly Yuenger

On today's show, Nancie McDermott joins us to talk about Southern homebaking. It's not about being a pastry chef--a cake can make any gathering a party, even if it's a bit lopsided. It's about celebration, ritual, old fashioned hospitality, and then, once you've baked a few, maybe a little showing off.

Below is one recipe from her book Southern Cakes and one from her book Southern Pies. Both are great to start with if you've never given baking a try. And, with a few fresh strawberries, Nancie points out, the Blueberry cake is quite red, white, and blue! Perfect for this weekend's July 4th celebrations.

Key Lime Pie:

Look for Key limes in small net bags in the produce section seasonally, or order Key lime juice by mail. Regular lime juice makes a lovely pie as well. Allow a little time for this pie. While it’s one of the simplest to put together, the filling needs three hours to chill once it’s made.

One 9-inch graham cracker piecrust

4 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup Key lime juice, from 10 to 15 limes, bottled juice, or regular lime juice 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sweetened condensed milk Usee a whisk or fork to mix them together evenly and well. Add the key lime juice and salt, and stir well until you have a smooth, thick filling.

Spoon the filling into the graham cracker crust. Place the pie on the middle shelf of the 350 degree oven, and bake for 15 minutes, until filling is set. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

To complete the pie, whip the cream in a medium bowl. When it thickens and increases in volume, add the sugar and vanilla, and continue beating until the cream is billowing and thick, able to hold soft peaks beautifully and easily. Pile the whipped cream onto the pie filing. If possible, and refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Serve cold.

Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake:

Enjoy this simple, delicious cake for breakfast, a tea party, or a midnight snack. If you can’t pick your own blueberries in the Shenandoah Valley, don’t worry. The cake comes out just fine using fresh blueberries from wherever you are, or even frozen berries from the grocery store.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Heat the oven to 375 F, and generously grease a 9-inch square or round pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until the mixture is smooth and light.

Stir in half the flour mixture, and then half the milk, mixing just enough to keep the batter fairly smooth and well combined. Add the remaining flour, and then the milk, mixing gently. Stir in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 375 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden, springs back when touched gently in the center, and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Serve the cake right from the pan, warm or at room temperature, cut into squares. Or if you made a round cake layer, cool it in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 - 20 minutes, loosen it around the edges, and then turn it out to finish cooling on a wire rack, top side up.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Programs for the Week of 6/27

We start off this week with a few of our favorites from the vault and Jean returns on Thursday!

Monday: Mockingbird (encore): Why has Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," which is so firmly rooted in the American South, become so popular the world over? And what makes it particularly relevant to Europe right now? (Rebroadcast from 6/30/10)

Tuesday: Peace, Love and Parazit: Iran's Daily Show (encore): Tired of their routine jobs, Saman Arbabi and Kambiz Hosseini, two irreverent young Iranians, started a comedy program called Parazit that's modeled after Jon Stewart's The Daily Show and broadcast over The Voice of America. The show is billed for those who "don't have the patience for news ... and all news is bad news." (Rebroadcast from 4/12/11)

Wednesday: To a Mountain in Tibet (encore): After the loss of his mother acclaimed travel writer Colin Thubron journeyed to the holiest mountain on earth: Mount Kailas, Tibet. It is sacred to one-fifth of humankind and has never been climbed. On an often grueling trek through an impoverished yet breathtaking landscape, Colin Thubron encountered a complex intermingling of religious beliefs while confronting his own experience with death. (Rebroadcast from 3/8/11)

Thursday: Legacy of American socialism: What do Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. have in common? According to John Nichols, these legendary Americans were more than a little bit red. He joins us for a conversation about the S-Word, the legacy of American socialism.

Friday: Southern Sweetness: After years for writing cookbooks inspired by her time in Southeast Asia, North Carolinian Nancie McDermott returned to her roots, the American South, and the sweet pies and cakes she helped her grandmother bake as a kid. They are central to Southern hospitality, and a great way to celebrate America's birthday!

The Here on Earth team

Programs for the week of 6/20

Monday: Hafez: Persia's Provocateur: Hafez, the famous 14th century Persian poet, used the most gorgeous language to expose duplicity, irreverence, and corruption in preachers, scholars of religious laws, memorizers and reciters of the Qur'an. Why is he still one of the best read poets of Persian literature?

Tuesday: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle (encore): Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: behind that sensationalized title is a truly original account of Amazonia written by a man, Daniel Everett, who went there as a Christian missionary expecting to convert the Pirahas, a tribe in Brazil, and was instead converted by them. (Rebroadcast from 1/12/09)

Wednesday: A Life on the Border: Live from Menasha (encore): Here on Earth had a blast broadcasting live from the Fox Cities Book Festival in Menasha this April. We talked with the acclaimed Mexican-American writer Luis Alberto Urrea who says that the border between Mexico and the United States goes right through his heart. (Rebroadcast from 4/13/11)

Thursday: The Whale (encore): In The Whale, winner of the 2009 BBC prize for nonfiction, Philip Hoare investigates the dark, shadowy beasts who swim below the depths only to surface in a spray of spume to find out what it is about them that exerts such a powerful grip on our collective imagination? (Rebroadcast from 2/3/10)

Friday: Global Eats Around Your Corner: The restaurant insider behind the wildly popular website joins Food Friday to talk about how to get out of an eating rut with dishes from all over the world that you can find right here in this country.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Programs for the Week of 5/23

Monday: Muslims, Mosques, and American Identity (encore): Tune in to our Gabriel Award-winning program from our Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates series, "Muslims, Mosques, and American Identity": Can a Muslim be an American? Islamic Studies luminary Akbar Ahmed went all the way back to the Founding Fathers to answer that question. And who can argue with the Founding Fathers? (Rebroadcast from November 2, 2010)

Tuesday: Chosen Peoples: The idea of the chosen is everywhere in American and Israeli history, both trying to grasp the meaning of divine election and to bear its burden. We’ll examine the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel through the prism of their perceived special status as chosen peoples.

Wednesday: How to Make it Happen: Collective Visioning: Linda Stout proved through her award winning work in Appalachia that diversity is essential to meaningful social change. Now, she’s helping groups around the country begin their work by getting everybody a seat at the table.

Thursday: Elif Shafak: The most widely read woman writer in Turkey today, Elif Shafak was accused of insulting “Turkishness” for mentioning the Armenian genocide in one of her novels. Throughout her life and career, Elif has tried to unify the wildly different aspects of her identity: woman, Muslim, Turkish, international globetrotter, writer, mother. For her, what holds it all together in the end is the power of fiction to overcome the politics of identity.

Friday: How to Eat Well on Forty Dollars a Week: Newly divorced and laid off, food writer Robin Mather moved to the woods and slashed her food budget. Her pantry became her savings account and the farmers nearby her grocers and her friends.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Programs for the Week of 6/13

Monday: A Future Without Nuclear Energy?: The recent nuclear disaster in Japan has many people re-thinking the risks and benefits of nuclear energy. Germany took a bold stance two weeks ago when it pledged to shut down its nuclear reactors by 2022. What are the consequences of living without nuclear energy?

Tuesday: Whitewashing Tales from The Arabian Nights: In the original telling, Scheherazade’s story was wild and wicked enough to keep the Sultan awake for a 1001 nights. Reza Aslan and Andrei Codrescu uncover the libidinous side of the Arabian Nights as we talk about the seductive power of storytelling.

Wednesday: Journey to the Moon: When was the last time you felt the enchantment of the full moon? James Attlee traveled the world to bask with those who still find significance in the moon and its province, the night.

Thursday: The Anarchist Bastard: Joanna Herman, who grew up on a pig farm in Connecticut and is fond of saying, "I was born in 1944 but raised in the twelfth century," gives a salute to Italian patriarchy in this twist on Fathers' Day.

Friday: Salt: It's the most universal of ingredients and the one most easily overlooked. From Sel Gris to flake salt, Mark Bitterman argues that the better you know your salt, the better every meal will turn out.