Seeger, Pete — Pete Seeger: In His Own Words

With sadness and admiration we pay tribute to the life and times of Pete Seeger, America’s foremost folk singer and troubadour. Pete Seeger brought songs of hope, justice and equality wherever he went with his 5 string banjo, 6 string guitar, 12 string guitar and Chailil, a simple handmade bamboo flute.

Pete Seeger died January 27, 2014, at the age of 94.  Seeger chronicled the history of activism in the United States through his music:  From the beginnings of World War Two, through the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 60s, the anti war movement of the 1960s and 70s to the Iraq-Afghanistan wars today.

This interview with Pete Seeger was recorded in January of 1992. We began our conversation when I asked him to describe what he meant when he said the world is at an age of uncertainty.

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Kennedy, Randall — Interracial Intimacies

Fears of interracial relationships, influenced over the centuries by racial biases and fantasies, still widely linger in American Society today.

Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard University Law School is the author of “Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption,” in which he takes an in depth look at the issue of black and white relationships set against the ever-changing social mores and laws of this country.  From pre-civil war to the present, this book explores the historical, sociological, legal and moral issues that continue to feed and complicate those fears.

Professor Kennedy and I visited by phone in March 2003 and began by our conversation with his description of what he calls a “pigmentocracy” in the United States.  

The book Professor Randall Kennedy recommends is “The Biography of Walter White,” by Robert Jankin.

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Buckley, Mary: What Are You Afraid Of?

“What Are You Afraid Of?” is the title of a cd released in August 2013 by singer and songwriter Mary Buckley, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.  Mary has a wide range of skills and experiences and has been singing her songs since she was a young teenager in the mid-1970s.  She visited the studios of Radio Curious on November 10, 2013, and began her story when I asked her what prompted her to create a cd.

The book Mary Buckley recommends is “A Pattern Language,” by Christopher Alexander.

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Benally, Leonard — A Navajo Elder Remembered

In this edition of Radio Curious assistant producer Christina Aanestad speaks with Leonard Benally, a Dine’ elder. Dine is the indigenous name for the Navajo people. Leonard Benally lived in an area called Big Mountain on the Navajo and Hopi reservations close to the Arizona-New Mexico border. He died on October 11, 2013 from cancer.

In the 1970′s a Hopi – Navajo land dispute erupted on Big Mountain; some claim it was devised to move the Navajo out of the area because Peabody Coal wanted the coal rich land below their feet. As a result, an estimated 20,000 Dine’ were displaced. A few hundred remain to this day-refusing to leave. Leonard Benally was one of them.  

In August, 2012 Leonard Benally agreed to talk about his life.  He began the conversation by describing the boarding schools he was forced to live in, as a child, one being the school for Navajo children in Tuba, Arizona.

Leonard Benally recommends people listen to XIT an indigenous rock band from the 1970′s. This conversation with Leonard Benally was recorded in August of 2012 and first aired on Radio Curious in October 2013.

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Leinen, George — A Mortician’s Philosophy

Continuing our series on the funeral industry in the United States we visit with the owner of a mortuary in a rural northern California town.  As professionals describe their work and philosophy, George Leinen, owner of Empire Mortuary in Ukiah, California since 2000,  joins us in this edition of Radio Curious to share his thoughts and experiences.  We discuss funeral industry trade associations, business practices in some sectors of the industry, and how our guest’s philosophy evolved.

In this program, recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on September 21, 2013 we began our visit when I asked George Leinen to describe embalming,  what it is, and why it’s done.

The book George Leinen recommends is “The American Way of Death,” by Jessica Mitford.

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Carlson, Lisa — The Privatization of Death Part One

The traditional rights of families to care for their dead is the topic of this, the first of two interviews on the funeral industry in the United States, with Lisa Carlson and Joshua Slocum, co-author’s of “Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.”

Final Rights” tells the story of the loss of control over what to do at the time of a death in the family, the euphemisms regarding death, and the laws and regulations in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.  The chapter “Tricks of the Funeral Trade” tells how, when grieving the loss of a loved one, many people fail to compare prices, and become vulnerable to suggestions that their love for the deceased is measured by the amount of money paid for the funeral, the casket and the burial.   

Lisa Carlson directs the Funeral Ethics Organization Josh Slocum directs the Funeral Consumers Alliance

In our first interview with Lisa Carlson, recorded from her home in Vermont, on August 26, 2013, she describes how the common lore of what to do at the time of death has been lost.

 Lisa Carlson and Josh Slocum are co-authors of “Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.” The books website is  The books she recommends are those written by John Grisham.   

Our interview with Josh Slocum will be posted here soon.  More information on this topic may be found on our website’s law department.

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Swearingen, Wesley — Illegal FBI Break-Ins, Told By a Former Agent

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have a history of illegal break-ins to homes and offices as well as conducting wiretaps without a search warrant.  In the years when J. Edgar Hoover was the Director of the FBI, these warrantless break-ins came to be known as “black-bag jobs”.

This archive edition of Radio Curious is a December 1995 interview with Wesley Swearingen a former FBI agent and author of “FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose.”  This book describes some of the “black-bag” warrantless searches in which he was involved, and his opinion of those activities.  Swearingen concludes his book by saying that the Hoover era will continue to haunt the FBI because Hoover knowingly undermined the United States Constitution. When I spoke with Wesley Swearingen from his home near Tucson, Arizona, in December 1995, I asked him what he meant by that.

The book Wesley Swearingen recommends is “Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover,” by Anthony Summers.

Originally Broadcast: December 20, 1995

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Frost, Mike — Spying on Americans: Not a New Activity Part 2

In the 1970s and 80s the use of the telephone or credit card, could have been and probably was recorded and saved in an international database called Echelon.

This is the second part of a two part series on international spying, recorded in 1999 with Mike Frost, author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments.” We talked about Echelon, the code name given to the capability to intercept all of the word’s communications all the time. Mike Frost worked for over 30 years as a spy for the American and Canadian Governments. He wrote the book, which describes many of his experiences, because he felt the privacy rights of innocent people were then regularly violated. I spoke with Mike Frost in April 1999, from his home near Ottawa, Canada and I asked him to tell us about Echelon.

Mike Frost recommends the movie “Wag the Dog.”

Part one of our conversation with Mike Frost is here.

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Frost, Mike — Spying on Americans: Not a New Activity Part 1

The fact that governments spy on each other is no secret. The fact that they also collect data about lives of millions of innocent citizens, world wide, may be unknown to many people.  Mike Frost, the author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments”, worked as a spy for over 30 years. Mike traveled world wide, setting up devices to intercept what were thought to be secret international communications. Mike Frost has since retired as a spy and has many thoughts and considerations about his former job that he is willing to share with us.  Our discussion led to a two-part series, recorded and originally broadcast in April of 1999.

The movie Mike Frost recommends is “October Sky.”

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Jefferson, Thomas & Jenkinson, Clay — The Author of the Declaration of Independence

Radio Curious revisits a 1994 conversation with Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States as portrayed by Chautauqua scholar Clay Jenkinson.  

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America, stands as one of the lead political theorists of American history.  His ward republican theory required an agrarian population, a government originating in the individual household, and a consistently questioning and rebellious public.My guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Mr. Jefferson, personified by Clay Jenkinson.We discussed what has gone wrong in the US since Mr. Jefferson was President and addressed some of his concepts of what are necessary for a democracy.

The book Thomas Jefferson recommends is “The History of the Peloponnesian War,” by Thuclydides.

The book C. Jenkinson recommends is “In the Absence of the Sacred,” by Jerry Mander.

Originally Broadcast: May 21, 1994

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