Friday, August 29, 2008

Sept 1-5 Programs

Dear Here-on-Earthlings,

My pick of the week was last Monday’s show with John Luther Adams, the solitary composer who is endlessly inspired by Alaska. The best way to listen to his cosmic soundscapes is alone in your car, as I was last Saturday while driving to Fond du Lac, or on headphones. I’m going to try listening to his CD In the White Silence meditating. It’s music that makes me feel as if I have whole chains of mountains rising inside me.

We have a short week coming up after Labor Day, and some surprises in store for you:

Monday, Labor Day: While you’re grilling those brats, you can be listening to one of the Here on Earth team’s favorite summer shows: The Sound of Dub with reggae master and poet Kwame Dawes.

Tuesday: Diversity on the Runway: With New York City’s fashion week just around the corner, we decided to do a program prompted by the phenomenal success of the July issue of Vogue Italia which featured all black models and sold out in the United States.

Wednesday: Although her work was once criticized as “pseudoscience”, Monica Turner was just named a MacArthur Fellow for her tremendous contributions to the pioneer field of landscape ecology.

Thursday: Descending the Dragon: (Can we really do a program about Vietnam without talking once about the war?) We’re working on a program with National Geographic adventurer and author Jon Bowermaster who set out to discover a new Vietnam by kayaking along its coast in an unprecedented 800 mile voyage. (Not yet confirmed)

Friday: Bless the Garlic! The Egyptians worshiped it, the Greeks detested it, the Romans ate it with delight. Garlic, with its unique odor, qualities, and folklore, belongs to a league of its own among foods. Melissa Clark’s family is obsessed with garlic, even tried to make garlic ice cream. I'll talk to her, a food writer for the New York Times.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Aug 25-29 Programs

Hi Guys,

Hope you caught the show on The Girls of Riyadh. I had no idea what was going on behind those black abayas.

Here’s what’s in store for next week – and by the way, we still could use some help booking Food Friday.

Monday: What would Alaska sound like if it were a symphony? Composer John Luther Adams creates music inspired by the Alaskan landscape. Glacial cool?

Tuesday: Sometimes it really is All In The Family. Sadia Shepard, a young Indian American filmmaker, grew up in a Muslim/ Christian household made even more complicated by the revelation that her Pakistani grandmother was actually Jewish! So let’s see – that makes her a Jewish Christian Muslim Hindu, right? Her parents tell her, “You choose.”

Wednesday: Did the Beijing Olympics change your mind about China? Let us know before Wednesday and we can use your comments to lead off this show. Guests are two NPR reporters, one who was willing to get up for us at 4:30am in Beijing. Send comments to; or post them on my blog, or the brand new The Blog Without Borders. You’ll find a link to it on the front page of Better yet, leave your comments at our Here on Earth hotline: 608- 890-0269. Very cool.

Thursday: Neal Karlen makes a command second appearance, this time to talk about the way Yiddish has been used in movies. A great end of summer HoE program. Your reward for hanging in there with us.

And once again we have no Food Friday program booked yet, although Carmen is working on Comfort Food for Breakups.

Thanks for all your help, especially you, Kevin, for suggesting the cheese makers.

This Open Sourcing stuff is really fun. I’m only sorry it took me so long to get the hang of it.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Girls of Riyadh or Sex and the Saudi

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today's show with Rajaa Alsanea, the twenty-something author of The Girls of Riyadh who might turn out to be the Betty Friedan of Saudi Arabia, was really eye-opening. Who knew what goes on behind those veils? I was fascinated by the fleeting remark she made about Saudi Arabia being basically a society made up of Bedouin tribes that got rich all of a sudden and hasn't yet had the time to rid itself of its tribal ways. She reminded me of my own immigrant background, growing up in an Old-World southern Italian family only one generation removed from hanging out the sheets to prove the bride is a virgin. What also struck me was how earnest she was, speaking her truth out of a clear sense of social responsibility, quite in contrast with that saucy devil-may-care narrator of hers.

Today's program provides the perfect opportunity to introduce an upcoming Here on Earth new media series we're all really excited about. It's called Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates, and the first program - Heavy Metal Islam - will be broadcast on Thursday, September 25. Mark Levine, a scholar/musician who wrote the book by the same name, will be the primary guest, but we're hoping to get a lot of other voices - preferably Muslim -into the program and we're hoping for help from our friends. All suggestions and ideas for how to make this program and its successors really hot are most welcome.

A Day in the Life of Your Local Cheese Maker

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008

Thanks to Kevin who responded to my call for help on this week's Food Friday, we're going to be doing a program about local cheese-making with two of the best in the trade - Felix Thalhammer (Capri cheese) and Mary Falk (LoveTree Farm) way up in Grant County where she has to chase the wolves away from her sheep. Odd thing is all three of the Wisconsin cheese makers we contacted either have injuries or are ailing - hazards of the trade - we'll pursue that theme tomorrow. And thanks, Kevin! Looks like this blog stuff is actually working, now that I've caught on to it. Anybody else out there with suggestions for food topics with an international twist, by all means, keep those cards and letters coming.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Driving Across the Sahara

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jeroen Van Bergeijk's hair raising road trip across the Sahara (My Mercedes is Not For Sale) reminded me of the time back in 1971 when I traveled with my first husband through the Tunisian desert in an old but trusty VW bug with a hired driver. This was the real Sahara and the dunes were huge blank mountains that rose up all around us on both sides. The little car's engine was full of sand that rattled around and around inside. There were two little girls way up high on the crest of one of the dunes, watching for the first sign of us as we drove into their village. The second they spied the car, they raced each other down the steep side of the dune and came right up to the car window, holding up their dolls for us to see. The dolls were wrapped in layers of dark red cloth scraps. They each had big breasts, but no faces, just like the little girls' Bedouin mothers. The bodies of the dolls stood out against the Sahara, but their blank faces blended right in. I still have both those dolls. I keep them on one of the shelves in my library bookcase. Here's a poem I wrote about them called "Bedouin..."

She climbed the far side of the dune,
a dot
above a curving line. Then
sudden as a shout she came running, the
small breath rattling like seeds in her lungs.
She held a doll in the car window,
a clutch of shreds begged
from her mother: coconut-hard breasts,
a bit of tin, a red
bandana. But my mind stopped at the face -
a featureless white patch she held
against the eyeless
Sahara - I watched it fade
drop back
into Allah.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Aug 18-22 Programs

Hi Guys,

The truth is it's damn hard to program the show in the last half of August –- nothing happening, everybody on vacation, and the mattresses are on the march. But we've managed, nonetheless, to come up with a week’s worth of programs –- almost. For some strange reason, the Food Friday programs which are usually the easiest to book are drawing blanks lately. We'd love to have your suggestions on international cuisines, new food trends, great cooks, unusual cookbooks, memorable kitchen stories, characters, etc. Send your ideas to, or post them on my blog, or on our new producers’ blog. And thank you!

Monday: WERN music host Lori Skelton fills in for me on Monday with a preview of the upcoming World Music Festival (UW-Madison, Sept. 12-14)

Tuesday: The last time John Nichols was on the show he made my jaw drop by suggesting that we do a program about What Bush Got Right. Lo and behold it shows up on the cover of this month’s Newsweek. John gives it a spin by talking about the ways in which Obama and McCain are each likely to follow in Bush’s footsteps.

Wednesday: Now this is a hairbrained idea: Buy a beat up Mercedes and drive it through the Sahara to see what you can get for it on the Third World used car market. But that’s exactly what an allegedly really smart Dutchman set out to do. It’s one of the strangest road trips you’ll ever hear about: From Amsterdam to Ouagadougou -- My Mercedes is (Not) For Sale by Jeroen Van Bergeik.

Thursday: Joe’s been working on a wrap-up program about the Olympics: Here’s the question for the week: Did the Beijing Olympics change your mind about China? How would you rate it as a PR campaign?

Friday: Help! Help! Calling all foodies! Our cupboard of food ideas is bare, and that’s a shame with all this glorious harvest produce pouring into the market.

I’ll be spending the weekend in Aspen, attending a memorial service for a very dear friend.



Friday, August 15, 2008

What Just Hit Us

Friday, August 15, 2008 (oh my goodness, it's the Feast of the Assumption!)

Okay, okay, I've been a lousy blogger. I admit it. But all that's about to change. It took two crackshot media consultants and a tw0-day workshop on social networking to get me to see the light. Sue Schardt and Mary McGrath arrived in Madison on Tuesday and hit the ground running and we're not exactly sure what just hit us. But here I am blogging about blogging, plus as of yesterday every member of the Here on Earth production team has a Facebook page, plus a page for the show, plus we've been Twittered, and just this morning Joe created a really spiffy Here on Earth - the Blog Without Borders complete with video. Check it out! All this in the span of three days!
That's Sue of SchardtMEDIA to the right.

P.S. The purpose of all this is to get you guys to help us produce the show. I'm not kidding.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Aug 11-15 Programs

Dear Friends,

This will be an interesting week. The Here on Earth team is about to about to make the leap into cyberspace! On Wednesday and Thursday we’ll be attending a training seminar that will teach us how to use social networking and other new media tools (Twitter, Face Book, MySpace, etc.) to extend the reach of the program and build an interactive global community. Since I don’t really know anything about all this, we thought we’d start with a program about it on Monday. Lisa found an expert in Australia…

Monday: Mark Pesce, one of the early pioneers in virtual reality, is an expert on the future of technology and the author of The Human Network: Sharing, Knowledge and Power in the 21st Century.

Tuesday: I spent last weekend at the Harwood Institute for Public Innovators in the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge on the border of Washington and Oregon. There I met an extraordinary man -- Jerry White -- who lost his leg from a land mine explosion while camping in Israel 20 years ago. Now he’s the director of Survivorcorps, an organization that works to rehabilitate and empower people all over the world who are victims of the consequences of war. He’s a happy guy, and he loves his work. You may have seen him interviewed recently on Good Morning America.

Wednesday: While we’re in training this week, you’ve be enjoying listening to the incomparable Satish Kumar talk about his walks on the wild side.

Thursday: An American couple with six figure salaries chucks it all to sail into the Wild Blue Yonder and sends back Notes from Patagonia.

Friday: Any ideas? We could use a little help from our friends on a great mid-August food show. Send your suggestions to

And now, on to OutSourcifying!


Friday, August 01, 2008

Aug 4-8 Programs

Dear Friends and Fans,

Monday: Remote Area Medical: Get ready for the wild and wooly world of Stan Brock, who was once seen wrestling an anaconda on ABC’s Wild Kingdom! Now he flies portable medical clinics and teams of volunteer doctors to set up portable medical clinics in third world countries including, and guess which country just joined his list – the United States! Next stop? Tennesee.

Tuesday: Capoeira! Five centuries ago, slaves from West Africa who ended up in Brazil practiced capoeira as a martial art, a game, and a way to keep their native cultures alive. Since then it’s been spreading like a fever through the forests of Brazil, and landing in places as distant as Berkeley, California and Madison, Wisconsin. But as capoeira gets farther and farther from home, is it still recognizable?

Wednesday: After decades of harassment, there are signs that transgender communities in India and Cuba are finally getting accepted. India has a transgendered TV talk show host, and in Cuba, gender reassignment surgeries are being routinely performed. Progress? You decide.

Thursday: Tuna! Richard Ellis, author of The Book of Sharks, introduces us to a fish that can weigh in at 1500 pounds and speed up to 55 miles per hour - an Atlantic northern bluefin can travel from New England to the Mediterranean, then turn around and swim back; one of the biggest, fastest, and most highly evolved marine animals now hovering on the brink of extinction. I once visited a tuna museum in Sardinia and marveled.

Friday: In honor of the start of the Beijing Olympics, we are working on a program about Chinese eating.

I’ll be spending the weekend on the Columbia River in Washington with fellows from Richard Harwood’s Institute for Public Innovation. I’ll let you know how it goes.