Showing posts from 2009

Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison - Airs Jan. 4

The Listening Lounge takes you inside Folsom Prison for Johnny Cash's historic 1968 concert. This documentary from Joyride Media features Cash singing "Cocaine Blues," "Long Black Veil" and other haunting songs. The program also includes interviews with prisoners and Merle Haggard. To listen to the full program produced by Joyride Media, go here.

City X - Airs Dec. 28

We first aired City X in 2007. In recent weeks, I've listened to it again on the Radio Lab and Hearing Voices podcasts. And it's still worth hearing. So I thought I'd close out the decade with one of radio's best documentaries. Here's producer Jonathan Mitchell's description of the story: "City X is a history of the modern shopping mall through perspectives of people living in a real, yet unnamed, city. Using a sound rich audio mosaic of observations and ruminations, all scored to Muzak, the universal mall experience comes to life, for better or for worse. City X was commissioned by Hearing Voices radio with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

We'll also air a short feature from the Memory Palace, "in which Guglielmo Marconi, the Father of Radio, dreams of a super radio that would allow him to hear every sound ever made. Melancholy ensues."


If you're a regular listener of the show, you know we air a lot of riveting stories by students who've attended the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. To keep up on the lastest Salt stories and get tips on how to produce great radio --- or just became a better listener --- check out the Saltcast. Follow the highlighted link or check it out on iTunes. I find the Saltcast enlightening and addicting.

Go Tell It On The Mountain - Airs Dec. 21

"Go Tell It on the Mountain" was born in the rich and indomitable oral culture of African slaves in the American south. A hundred years later it became a rallying cry for the civil rights struggle of the 1960's. And now, it's a perennial favourite at Christmas concerts and church services across North America.

We'll air a documentary on this holiday spiritual, produced by the CBC. Listen in at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21.

What's A Meaningful Life? - Airs Dec. 14th

Marie's Crisis by Kevin T. Allen
Jim has been playing piano at an infamous bar for twenty-some years. He was trained young by his strict, religious, and secretly-loving father to embrace music "Soli Deo Glorio" (only for the grace of God). Jim's dad could never approve of a musical career that wasn't religious and this weighed on the both of them for years. Yet Jim states, "What I do does helps people get through things" and although a Christian's mission may be to proselytize, "you can't really do that without having a drink with the town whore."

Hard to Say by Bente Birkeland
Former state-park ranger Ed lives alone in a quiet, isolated area of Maine. At the age of 90, Ed reflects on his second marriage, revealing a relationship characterized by love, loss, loyalty, and uncertainty.

A Voice Of Warning by Anne Penman
A heroin overdose left Jade blind and mute and unable to take care of himself…

Can We Change? - Airs Dec. 7th

Swords to Ploughsharesby Alix Blair
Matthew wanted to be a soldier forever; then he went to Iraq. While raiding houses and hunting for Saddam Hussein, he came to find that farmers are the world's most powerful force. Upon his return to the States, he decided to become a farmer too. Now, he'd like to go back to Iraq, but not as a soldier.

I'm Relatively Humanby Selena Simmons-Duffin
We meet Marty who once seemingly had it all: a loving wife, a beautiful home, a great job. He threw it all in the wind to realize a deep, life-long desire and became a woman. Perhaps her story is less about the transition but what happens after you have arrived at your destination and are forced to consider what has been gained and what you've lost.

My Criminal Lifefrom Blunt Youth Radio Project
Finally, a step into the mind of Mark, a young man who feels hopeless against the cycles of drugs and violence in his life. After being in and out of the Long Creek Youth Development Center six times for …

Survivors: Solitary Confinement - Airs Nov. 30

Tens of thousands of inmates live in total isolation in America's jails and prisons today. And the number is rapidly growing. Often prisoners spend years – even decades – by themselves in a cell the size of a small bathroom. They don't see anyone. They don't talk to anyone. They don't touch anyone. They are completely alone.

In this half-hour radio documentary, "survivors" of solitary paint a picture of what solitary confinement looks, sounds and feels like. These are the voices of both men and women; Black, White and Latino; old and young.

Listen to "Survivors: Solitary Confinement" by independent producer Claire Schoen at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30. (Photo of Robert King Wilkerson, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement, was taken by Terry Foss.)

Heat of the Moment - Airs Nov. 23

Today, climate change is generally expressed as the gradual warming of Earth's atmosphere over decades. Scientists see these changes as startlingly rapid in the context of geologic time - but to millions of people around the world, the impacts of global warming are immediate, and becoming increasingly frequent and severe.

In "Heat Of The Moment: Inside Out," science journalist Daniel Grossman takes us to places where the effects of climate change are acutely felt. He reports on the heat wave that killed 40,000 people in Paris and from the low-lying coastlines in India and Bangladesh that may soon be affected by global climate change. Grossman won the 2008 Science Journalism award from the Association for the Advancement of Science for an earlier documentary on global warming.

Listen in to this great documentary from Grossman and WBUR/Boston.

Look into the Future - Airs Nov. 16

Portrait of a Psychic as a Young Man by Katie Mingle
Nathan is just like any other teenager - except that he’s a Certified Energy Healer giving psychic advice over the internet. Plus, "the kid blows light bulbs." We find him trying to locate his lost Nintendo Gameboy and looking into his own future.

Crystal’s Ballby Tatiana Harrison
Next, we go home-shopping with “Future Crystal” in her old rivals’ neighborhood. Crystal is a gang-affiliated youth who’s been in juvenile hall and expelled from all district schools. Regardless, she envisions a day with steady job and buying a house with a husband. It’s a wonderful trip until she realizes the toll this goal will take on her other big dreams.

Genetic Fortune Teller by Neille Ilel
Most of the women in Neille’s family have died from cancer. So Neille visits Joyce, a genetic counselor, to have her family tree read and get tested for the "breast cancer gene." If a woman has this mutation, she's almost guaranteed to develop b…

Gender Bender - Airs Nov. 9

Boys don't wear pink. Girls gotta look hot.

On our "Gender Bender" show, which airs on Monday, Nov. 9, we'll air stories about gender stereotypes and talk to one of the producers from the film Straightlaced: How Gender Has All Tied Up.

We'll start the show with "Dressy Girls," a story about a group of fashion-conscious high school girls and the connections between what they wear, self-esteem, body image, and their relationships with boys and other girls.

Then we'll talk about the film "Straightlaced" with producer Brittney Shepherd. This educational film has its Minneapolis debut at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16 at Children's Theatre. Tickets are available here.

We'll also air "Mea, Me, Mine," the story of Mea Tavares, who was born female and shpet the rest of his life redefining what it means to be male


If you're a Listening Lounge regular, you know we like stories from the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. At Salt, students get to learn about radio and make their own stories. And a lot of those stories are simply fantastic: "Rolling Diamonds," "Dyana, Goddess of the Moose Hunt" and "Just Another Fish Story" are three of my favorites. One way to keep up with what's happening at Salt and to get tips on how to produce your own stories is to listen to the Saltcast, a podcast dedicated to the backstory of great radio storytelling. Check it out online or at iTunes.

Little League Haiku - An Audio Extra

My friend at Hearing Voices — Barrett Golding — recently alerted me to a story by Scott Carrier called "Little League Haiku." It's football poetry. It's rebellious and quiet and simply great writing. It's here.

Death's Footprint - Airs Nov. 2

One thing is clear: all of us are going to die. What you may not know is what happens to all those bodies, and the effect they have on the environment. Cemeteries take up thousands of acres of open space. Funeral homes use gallons of toxic chemicals a year. And cremation consumes lots of energy and emits toxins into the environment. Today, many Americans are looking for ways that make their deaths greener. But change is coming slowly. The way we practice death has deep cultural and religious traditions.

This documentary — Death's Footprint — features an embalmer, an undertaker, a Roman Catholic cemeterian, a 34-year-old woman who wants to have her body composted by worms, the sounds of a crematorium and an exploration of the newest, greenest body disposal technique: Resomation

Death's Footprint was produced by Diane Richard and Todd Melby of 2 below zero for Chicago Public Radio. The documentary won an Edwar…

Honoring the Body: Taharah - Airs Oct. 26

Leaving the world as we entered it... but with a twist.

Jewish burial rituals and beliefs place great importance on treating the deceased with the utmost honor and respect. This is especially important during the "taharah," a ritual involving the physical cleansing of the dead body.

In "Honoring the Body: Tahara" — winner of the 2006 Third Coast International Audio Festival Directors' Choice award — three people who have taken part in taharah share their experiences. In addition to taking us through the steps of this intricate ceremony, they offer their personal views and insights on how taharah encouraged them to confront their own mortality and grapple with the existential questions of life and death.

We'll also air two other stories related to death: "My Sister's Brain Cancer" by Nance Olesen and "Horrible Deaths" from the Memory Palace.

Proms, Jobs and Ethnicity - Airs Oct. 19

On this show, we air six stories from American teenagers. Titled "Proms, Jobs and Ethnicity," these stories reflect the worries and hopes of millions of a whole bunch of kids.

Like Phillip Baggett of Curie Youth Radio in Chicago.

He wants to go to prom. But he's having a tough time asking. We'll air Phillip's funny, anxiety-inducing story on getting a date — or not getting a date — for prom.

We'll also air these stories:

The N Word: It Represents Hatred, by Veralyn Williams
Dominican Republic by Angely Tavare
I'm the Guy Who Parks Your Car, by Pablo Ponce
Thanks Dunkin' Donuts Lady, by Jasmine Gonzale
To My Aunt Who Crossed the Border, by Elizabeth Pilego

Relive your youth! Tune in.

Slot Cars + Plastic Ponies - Airs Oct. 12

Slots of Funby T.K. McGuirt
First, we'll visit a racetrack in Maine where we meet enthusiast, Roland Thurlow. Just like lots of guys, he is serious about his cars. Roland's are a little different though - they measure only about 4". These are slot cars.

Are There Any More Rare, Plastic Ponies?by Julie Shapiro
While some ladies are at the barn brushing their living & breathing ponies, others are devoted to their diminutive, mass-produced, painted plastic counterparts. An unknown pastime to most, competitive (?!!!??!) model horse collecting is a serious passion for women of all ages. Either way, one thing's certain: Girls love horses. We'll spend some time at the stable & at the show ring talking with riders ...& collectors.


Show us the love, baby

KFAI's autumn pledge drive is rockin' right now. If you love the Listening Lounge, you must love KFAI. And if you love KFAI, please show your support by sending us a pledge. Big or small, each pledge is important. You can pledge online here.

Todd Melby's Favorites

Many of the stories you hear on the Listening Lounge are from independent producers around the U.S. and the world. I find these stories on the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). I've highlighted several of my favorites in this PRX playlist called Todd Melby's Favorites. There's some great, great audio here, including two documentaries from Jonathan Mitchell, Weenie Royale from The Kitchen Sisters, Miner by Gregory Warner and this really cool love story called From Brooklyn to Banja Luka. Give it a listen.

Make your own list of favorites, send me an email and I'll link to them here.

Working + Secret Kitty - Airs Sept. 21

This show centers on stories from the critically-acclaimed Working series.

We'll hang out with a miner in the Congo, a banker in London and a sex worker in Azerbaijan. The link to the entire Working series is here.

And then we relax with a lighter story. The story of how the CIA wired a cat to spy on the Soviets in DC parks. Weird, but true. It's from this LA producer named Nate DiMeo, who likes to produce obscure
historical stories called The Memory Palace. We'll air more stories from Nate in the near future, including one called Horrible Deaths, which is scheduled to air around Halloween.

Life Stories: Women at Work, Part 2 - Airs Sept. 14

"Life Stories" are public radio stories made over many years, by producer Jay Allison -- working together with Christina Egloff, and friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers and whoever would take the loan of one of his tape recorders. They are are stories about life as we find it, and record it.

On the occasion of her retirement, this Chicago judge borrowed a cassette recorder, and with her family, reflected on her 18 years on the bench. Produced with Judge Susan Snow, Brent Runyon and WBEZ Chicago.

Life Stories: Women at Work, Part 1 - Airs Sept. 7

"Life Stories" are public radio stories made over many years, by producer Jay Allison -- working together with Christina Egloff, and friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers and whoever would take the loan of one of his tape recorders. They are are stories about life as we find it, and record it.

In this two-part series, we air Jay's collection of stories about women at work. On our Labor Day program we hear "A Pastor's Journal." For two months, the pastor of Park Union Church in Chicago kept an audio journal chronicling her daily life and thoughts about the career and the calling of the ministry. Produced with Rev. Susan Johnson and WBEZ Chicago.

The Jazz Plan - Airs Aug. 31

Psychopathia Sexualis, Patricia Smith and Cassandra Wilson star in a mash-up that Barrett Golding calls "The Jazz Plan." It's poetry and all that jazz.

Lucy and the Bike Girl + 2 - Airs Aug. 24

Lucy and The Bike Girl
By Hillary Frank
Lucy can never meet her best friend in person because it might cut her life expectancy in half.Lucy, a 28-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, meets the "Bike Girl," who has the same disease, in an Internet chatroom. They are both, against the advice of friends and doctors, trying to get pregnant, and they find that they have a lot in common. They quickly become friends, but can never meet in person, because the Bike Girl carries a bacteria in her lungs that is toxic to anyone with cystic fibrosis. This piece was an experiment in combining fact and fiction. The interview tape is all from a real interview; the narration is fictional. Hide full description Lucy, a 28-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, meets the "Bike Girl," who has the same disease, in an Internet chatroom. They are both, against the advice of friends and doctors, trying to get pregnant, and they find that they have a lot in common. They quickly be…

Sonic Mysteries + Radio Rorschach Test - Airs Aug. 17

We'll start the show with "Sonic Mysteries," Wagner's classic love story "Tristan und Isolde" revealed. What's that famous "Tristan Chord" all about, anyway? Composer Danny Felsenfeld takes a look under the hood to reveal the power, the beauty and the "game" of the infamous Tristan Chord. Music writer John Rockwell helps illustrate how those few simple notes have changed the course of Western music and become part of the musical collective unconscious. This segment also features a Tristan Chord "Mashup," tracing the trajectory of the Chord from Wagner's opera all the way to the Alt-rock band, Radiohead.

And since we have music on the mind, we'll pair that story with a piece called "Radio Rorschach Test" by producer Aaron Henkin. In this puzzling piece, Henkin gets average folks to respond to sonic inkblots. Play along with us on Monday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. Central Time on KFAI, 90.3 FM Minneapolis. The show …

Saving Jungle Souls + Memory Palace - Airs Aug. 10

A sound-rich profile of Ataiba, chief of one of the last bands of nomads in the Americas, as he leaves the Bolivian jungle to live with evangelical missionaries. The story is told by Ataiba and the missionaries from starkly different points of view. Part of the Vanishing Homelands series, chronicling the dramatic changes to land and culture across the Americas. By Sandy Tolan and Nancy Postero.We'll pair this documentary with a short feature from The Memory Palace, a new public radio effort by Los Angeles-based producer Nate DiMeo. It's super cool. Listen in.

Stories Sans Narration - Airs Aug. 3

Most radio stories feature a narrator (usually the reporter) to provide the listener with context and descriptions. But sometimes a radio story is more powerful if the reporter can get out of the way and let the subject tell us what's happening. Or better yet, show us.

On this edition of the Listening Lounge, we'll air a podcast produced by Rob Rosenthal of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. In a recent episode of the Saltcast, Rob discusses non-narrated radio pieces and showcases a story by Sarah Reynolds called Look Me in the Eye. The story is about guy named Bill Bouffard who likes to play quad rugby.

We'll also air a story I produced a couple of years ago about the St. Paul Winter Carnival's Bouncing Girl competition. It also lacks narration and I had to give the story quite a bit thought before I bounded over to downtown St. Paul on a chilly January evening for the event. (By the way, a Bouncing Girl competition involves men holding a circular canvas blank…

Road Trip - Airs July 20 + July 27

Host Larry Massett spends a "Long Day on the Road" with ex-KGB in the Republic of Georgia. Scott Carrier starts in Salt Lake and ends on the Atlantic in this cross-country "Hitchhike." Lemon Jelly adds beats to the life of a "Ramblin' Man." The band Richmond Fontaine sends musical postcards from the flight of "Walter On the Lam." And Mark Allen tells a tale of a tryst with a "Kinko's Crackhead."

And on the July 20 show: "Home from the Road," a commentary by Nanci Olesen.

Buffalo Commons - Airs July 13

The problems of the Great Plains have been chronicled for decades-- lack of industry, an aging population, towns closing up shop and reverting to prairie scrub. That's where the idea of a "Buffalo Commons" comes in. Backers want to accumulate big swaths of the Plains, and repopulate the land with bison and other native species.A group called the American Prairie Foundation is trying to do that in northeastern Montana, around the town of Malta. It's knitting together a hodgepodge of old family ranches and public land, with the hope of eventually luring in ecotourists.It's a pretty radical idea for a part of the country that's pretty, but decidedly NOT radical.Here's a portrait from the Plains from producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister.

Street Gangs in the Midwest - Airs July 6

Any way you slice it, St. Louis is one of the most violent cities in America. A primary cause for that distinction is gang violence. In a special three-part series, KWMU reporter Adam Allington speaks with Crips, Bloods, police, lawyers, and the people living in some of St. Louis' most notorious gang neighborhoods. We air "Block by Block: Street Gangs in St. Louis," recent winner of an Edward R. Murrow Award and "Watching My Cousin Sink Into Gang Life," by Julie Palido of Curie Youth Radio in Chicago.

Heard Here - Airs June 22

The producers here at the Listening Lounge have been editing and re-editing radio stories for the debut edition of "Heard Here: KFAI Producers Showcase."

We'll begin the show with "Joe Savage: Perennial Sideman," a profile of a local pedal steel guitar player by Joel Grostephan. Unlike traditional public radio stories, Joel doesn't narrate this piece. Instead, we hear from Joe Savage and his crying pedal steel. It's a moving piece and you won't want to miss it.

Then it's on to a pair of funny essays on the subject of "People We Like Who Don't Like Us, But We Can't Help But Fancy Them." Diane Richard remembers the girl's bathroom at high school that she was supposed to avoid. Kristina Lund tells us about trying to convince her friend at work to become her friend in real life. "I have plenty of friends outside of work ... I just don't like them as much. They'll do in pinch, especially when I need to know that I am …

The Dad Plan - Airs June 15

It's never too early to start thinking about the old man. Your father. Your dad. On our June 15 show, we air a half-hour worth of stories about dads. It's called "The Dad Plan." It begins with a very funny song by William Shatner, Aimee Mann and the Ben Folds. Shatner plays the Dad, of course, one who wants to reconnect with his adult child but doesn't want to talk about anything emotional or pressing. The show also includes stories by Sarah Vowell of This American Life. Tune in and don't forget about Dad's Day. Um, it's June 21, I think. (The photo is my old man — Thomas Melby of Hettinger, North Dakota. I'm that baby in the red-and-white outfit. Damn, he looks tired.)

Thembi Ngubane Dies

In 2007, we aired a documentary by Joe Richman called Thembi's AIDS Diary, about a South African woman's struggle with HIV/AIDS. Thembi Ngubane was 19 years old when she began recording her thoughts about HIV. She also recorded her loving interactions with her boyfriend, the moment she told her father about her condition and many other touching moments. After her story was broadcast, she toured the United States. Later, she also addressed the South African parliament. Thembi recently contracted tuberculous and died June 4. She was 24. Producer Joe Richman recorded a remembrance of Thembi for National Public Radio. You can listen to it here.

Jennie's Secret - Airs June 8

Take a look at this picture. Maybe you can figure out that the Civil War soldier on the right is a woman. But the guy sitting next to her sure couldn’t, and neither could the rest of her fellow soldiers. They didn’t conduct physical exams back in those days the way the military does now. The army’s policy, one observer quipped, was “ don’t test the eyes, count ‘em.“ The non-bearded soldier in this picture was known to her comrades as Albert Cashier. But she was born in Ireland on Christmas Day of 1843 as Jennie Hodgers. This is the story of a woman who posed as a man during the Civil War and went on to live most of her life as a man in the tiny town of Saunemin, Illinois. Through the years the town has been ambivalent about their most famous citizen & has struggled to figure out what to do with her old house.This show includes an interview with producer Linda Paul.You can read more about Jennie's Secret here and here.

Two from Canada - Airs June 1

On our June 1 show, we'll air two stories by Canadian producers: A Map of the Sea (Chris Brookes) and Colonel's Daughter (Makiko Ishihara). The first story documents the decline of a Newfoundland town by Chris Brookes, a really fantastic producer who uses sound in unusual ways. The second story is a Japanese-Canadian woman's story about her strident father and her relationship with him.

Route 66 - Airs May 18 and May 25

Americans have long been fascinated with the promise of the open road. Beginning in 1926, that metaphor for hope and unfulfilled dreams was Route 66, a highway that connected Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. In a two-part documentary airing on the Listening Lounge, you'll hear what the highway meant to 20th century America.Says one woman, "I do think that losing Route 66 was like losing a member of the family. It was a part of what people in Chicago could identify with, people in Oklahoma, people in Texas, people all the way to California. It was like a ribbon that tied us together."Route 66 airs at 7 p.m. May 18 and May 25 on the Listening Lounge on KFAI, 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.

Asian Pacific Heritage Special - Airs May 4

We celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with five stories by or about Asian-Americans, including "Weenie Royale" by the Kitchen Sisters, "Honk for Tibet" by Todd Melby, "This I Believe" by Yo Yo Ma and a touching story by Dmae Roberts called "Memorial." In "Memorial," Dmae Roberts plays phone messages from her mother as she muses on their relationship. It's really a great, great piece. I also love "Weenie Royale," which tells the story of how interned Japanese-Americans invented extraordinary meals using every day food.

Ten Cents A Dance - Airs April 27

During and despite the Great Depression, the entertainment industry was working overtime. Listen to some of the gems and the stories behind them. The roughest years in American history produced what many consider the greatest era of popular music. Elliot Majerczyk looks at the songs that became the soundtrack of the ‘lost generation’ and helped pull America through the hard times. He says that given the state of the economy, we may get to hear more songs like these in the near future.

Spring Pledge Drive - Airs April 13 + 20

Thanks for supporting KFAI during our annual spring pledge drive. We played some pretty cool pieces during these shows, including stories by students at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies (Angel Warrior on His Way to the Top and Insomnia) and a super tight 3-minute story by John Biewen (Scared). I liked that one so much I played it two weeks in a row!

An Ode to Health and Ignorance - Airs April 6

What it's like to suffer from a disease that little is known about?In this documentary from Radio Netherlands, Chris Chambers uses his own experiences with dealing with chronic lyme disease to look in to what it's like to suffer from a disease that is little understood and which is causing a great deal of controversy in the medical world.

The Jazz Plan - Airs March 30

"The whole band would just like have an orgasm every time Bird or Dizz would play."

Those are actual words spoken in this eclectic, moody one-half hour of radio produced by Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices. It's called "The Jazz Plan." And it dips into all things jazz: Reflections from Cassandra Wilson, a poem called "A Mother*ucker Too" by Patricia Smith, an excerpt from "The Best of the Beat Generation," a fictional interview between Mister Rogers and a jazz musician, and of course, some damn good music.

Tune in. 7 p.m. KFAI.

Light up a cig when you do.

Catfish Culture - Airs March 23

Catfish Culture
Spring is here! Fishing time is near.

Down South, they snare catfish on their hooks. In the playful documentary Catfish Culture, you'll hear true and mythical stories about giant catfish. Stories like these:

"I caught a catfish that weighed 82 pounds."

"I caught a 75. I've been with boys that caught a 94. Same boys catch an 84."

"I caught one I didn't even put him in the boat. I didn't even want him in the boat with me. Woo. He weighed well over 100 pounds."

And if you remember Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi," you know that sometimes the catfish is portrayed as a menacing monster. That's referenced too in this jaunty story by Dan Collison, an award-winning radio producer.

So, tune in Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m. on the Listening Lounge. You won't need a fish finder to locate us: We're at 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul on little ol' KFAI.

Whales! --Airs March 16

Kristina and Emily love whales. And so before Todd returns to Listening Lounge after his 5-week vacation, the two of us have decided to dedicate a half-hour show to whales. Whales! It’ll be fun, people!
First up, a piece from Barrett Golding’s show, Hearing Voices. (This should be your favorite audio documentary show—after the Listening Lounge, of course). “Blackfish” tells the story of a guy who can identify which pod an Orca whale is from simply by listening to its call. Dr. John Ford spends his nights on the water, with a hydraphone, an underwater mic, dangling off the side of the boat.
Next, a more somber story that we think everyone should hear. “Sonar and Whales,” from Spectrum radio’s Jean Kumagai, investigates the military's use of Low Frequency Sonar to detect foreign sea vessels and its often devastating effects on the ocean's sea life, particularly whales.
And we’ll round off the show with some old crazy fun stuff. First, “The Fisherman and His Wife,” a story f…

Lessons in Psychiatry-- Airs March 9

How do we care for the mentally ill? And do we ever really know what it is they need? We devote a half hour to exploring those questions and hearing stories about the trials and triumphs of mental health treatment.
First, "Inside the Glore:" A visit to one of America's most bizarre museums, the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO. This documentary, from producer Michael Paul Mason, is a vivid look into the history of psychiatric treatment. And after all the restraint cages and tranquilizer chairs and other disturbing contraptions, the question remains: have we really come so far, or is mental illness still an illusive world that we'll never quite know what to do with?
Next, "The Education of Sarah Brodie:" Sarah is an art therapist who wants to help Adele Lerner cope with living in a nursing home. But ultimately, it is Adele who teaches Sarah about making connections and putting up boundaries. The piece is from producers Jessica Brando and Neil Sandell…

Voices From the Harbor—Airs March 2

“Voices From the Harbor,” from producer Katie Clark, tells the stories of four women who entered treatment for their opiate addictions after becoming pregnant. The four women discuss their lives while addicted, their difficult choice to undergo medically-controlled methadone treatment while pregnant, and their hopes for the future. While opiate addiction is a growing problem in America’s rural states, the voices of those struggling with addiction and recovery are seldom heard. This documentary is an intimate and emotional look into the lives of women who are standing up for their future, regardless of their past.

Black History Month Show –Airs Feb. 23

Tune in for a healthy dose of Black History Month-related pieces. Kristina and Emily liked them, and they think you will too.

Toilet Paper Scrap Chronicles Civil Rights Ordeal: Within the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison rests a carefully-preserved six-foot swatch of toilet paper. Miriam Feingold used it as stationary while incarcerated in a Port Allen, Louisiana Jail in September of 1963. She tells the story of a brutal civil rights struggle during a voter registration drive during which hundreds of people were arrested.

Navigating in Nebraska: Two years ago, 166 Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans ended up in Omaha, Neb., and most of them have decided to stay. Building a new life is never easy, but it's especially difficult when you have to deal with various bureaucracies. Producer Lawrence Lanahan brings us a story about one man's mission to help himself by helping other evacuees get back on their feet.

Experiences with the “N” Word: Producer …

Lynchings End?- Airs Feb. 16

“Lynching’s End?: the Great 1930 Texas Courthouse Race Riot” is the story of one of the last incident’s of the so-called “race riot era.” Thousands of white men, women and children besieged, burned, dynamited, torched and destroyed the Grayson County Courthouse in Texas to get at a confessed black rapist on trial inside. The mob drove off Texas Rangers and National Guards, then went on to terrorize the town of Sherman's black community and torch the black business district. African-Americans, scholars and citizens alike still struggle to understand why it happened. But one immediate result was the formation of the pivotal Association of Southern [White] Women for the Prevention of Lynching. Listen in at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 on the Listening Lounge on KFAI, 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.

The News Plan - Airs Feb. 9

If it Bleeds, It Leads. A half-hour dedicated to the news business from Barrett Golding and Hearing Voices. Includes a commentary by Joe Frank.

Death's Footprint - Airs Feb. 2

Produced by Diane Richard and Todd Melby, "Death's Footprint" is a documentary on the environmental consequences of death. Cemeteries take up thousands of acres of open space. Funeral homes use gallons of toxic chemicals a year. And cremation consumes lots of energy and emits toxins into the environment. Today, many Americans are looking for ways that make their deaths greener. But change is coming slowly. The way we practice death has deep cultural and religious traditions. This program includes interviews with an embalmer, an undertaker, a 34-year-old woman who wants to have her corpse composted by worms, the sounds of a crematorium and an exploration of the newest, greenest body disposal technique: resomation.

Learning to Live - Airs Jan. 26

"Learning to Live: James' Story" is the story of an ex-felon's transition from prison to the free world. James, who narrates, is 38 and has been in and out of prison all his adult life. After completing a seven-year prison term for burglary, James comes to live at St. Leonard's halfway house for ex-offenders on Chicago's West side. Over three months, James goes through a rigorous education process that includes job training, drug counseling and twelve-step support meetings. His recovery is tested when his eighteen-year-old son, whom he hadn't seen in fourteen years, is arrested on a drug charge. After landing his "dream job" in customer service for a cable company, James leaves the halfway house having begun to "learn how to live." "Learning to Live: James' Story" won the Edward R. Murrow Award; the Third Coast International Audio Festival Public Service Award; and the 2002 Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delt…

Barack Obama: The Inauguration Mix - Airs Jan. 19

Listen to four Barack Obama remixes that include speeches from the President-elect, music from Nina Simone, Q-Tip, Kevin So, M.C. Yogi, Dephazz, will i. am, commentary from Bill Cosby, Tom Hanks, Artie Lange, John Legend and messages of good will from around the world.