Brown, Don — Make Dreams a Reality

Imagine being about 36 years old having completed only the 6th grade, worked for years as a laborer, and one day waking up in a hospital from knee surgery to a dream induced by morphine for your severe pain.   In the unrelentingly dream you to college, Harvard Law School and then walk across the United States from Boston, Massachusetts, to Big Sur, California.

Those sixty-three words summarize the story of Donald L. Brown, now 67 years old who had that dream and lived it.  He’s the author of “The Morphine Dream:  Delusions of Grandeur or Relentless Ambition?  Sometimes it’s Hard to Tell the Difference.” He has 6 other forthcoming books some of which will be published in 2014.

Donald L. Brown visited the studio of Radio Curious on November 9, 2013 to share his story.   We began our visit with his description of this morphine dream an actual event in his life and how he lived it.

The book Donald L. Brown recommends is “The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls.

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Jergensen, Richard — Railroads as a Life Line: Then, Now and the Future…

Local railroad systems were once the primary, if not the exclusive means of shipping and travel between nearby communities as well as links to those far away.  The California Western Railroad and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad met in Willits in rural Mendocino County in northern California, about 135 miles north of San Francisco.  Virgin old growth redwood trees were logged in the forests along the 40 miles of track to the coastal town Ft. Bragg.  Rail Villages, those isolated communities accessible only by train track prospered and grew.  Then came the automobile and trucks.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Richard Jergensen, president of the Mendocino Country Railroad Society, about the history of the California Western and the Northwestern Pacific Railroads, and what their presence did and can do in the future.  He is also the co-author of “How to Build with Grid Bean: A Fast, Easy and Affordable System for Constructing Almost Anything.”  Among a small part of his vast collection of maps, books, histories, posters and other memorabilia laid out throughout his home in Willits for our visit, Richard Jergensen shared a small part of this long story on January 20, 2013.

The book he recommends is “A Confederacy of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole.

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Totten, Professor Sam — Genocide in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan– 2013

The people of the Nuba Mountains, located in northeast Africa, just north of the new nation of South Sudan, are in a crisis that may well threaten their very survival.  In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with retired Professor Sam Totten, author of “Genocide by Attrition:  Nuba Mountains, Sudan,” and “An Oral and Documentary History of the Darfur Genocide.”  Sam Totten returned from a two week visit to the Nuba Mountains on January 11, 2013.
When he and I visited by phone from his home near Fayetteville, Arkansas, on January 13, 2013, we began with his description of the civil war there.

The book Professor Sam Totten recommends is “The World of Darfur: International Response to Crimes Against Humanity in Western Sudan,” by Amanda Grzuyb and Romeo Dallaire.

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Click here to listen to our June 2011 interview with Professor Sam Totten.

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Forrington, Capt. Cass — A Beach Made of Glass and Hands in Acid: One Man and Many Stories

A former dump site at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Ft. Bragg, California, is part of the story in this edition of Radio Curious.

Captain Cass Forrington, creator and owner of the Glass Beach Museum, and the author of “Beaches Of Glass, a History & Tour of the Glass Beaches of Fort Bragg, California,” is our guest.   He is also a Master Mariner, holder of an unlimited Master’s Certificate, allowing him to be the captain of any size sea going vessel.  He has many stories to tell.

Captain Cass and I sat on Glass Beach No. Two in Ft. Bragg, on a windy afternoon, June 2, 2012, with the waves lapping ten feet away.  We began when I asked him to describe Glass Beach.  But keep listening to hear his story about putting his hands in acid 40 years ago.

Captain Cass Forrington’s website is:

Capt. Cass Forrington recommends a movie and a book. The book is “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” by Ray Kurzweil.  And the movie is “What the Bleep Do We Know?”

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Nawa, Fariba — Child Brides & Drug Lords

Imagine Darya, a twelve year old girl in a remote village of Afghanistan.  Her father forces her to marry a drug lord as part payment for an opium drug trade.  Her father is not home and she is about to be taken from her family.  Desperately, her hands trembling, she implores you, a complete stranger:  “Please don’t let him take me.”

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit Fariba Nawa, author of “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan.”  Fariba Nawa was ten years old when her family fled Afghanistan shortly before the Soviet invasion in 1979.  Eighteen years later Fariba Nawa met twelve year old Darya when she returned to her native Afghanistan as an Afghan-American investigative journalist.  Her book tells Darya’s story, and reveals what the Afghan opium drug trade is doing to her native land in the midst of war.

Fariba Nawa and I visited by phone from her home near San Francisco, California on January 23, 2012. We began with her description of coming to the United States and flight from Afghanistan.

Fariba Nawa’s website is The book she recommends is “Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War,” by Annia Ciezaldo.

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Aanestad, Christina — Gold, Oil and a Journalist’s Adventure in Ecuador

One of the things I learned in law school about bankruptcy was that if you have to borrow money to take a trip and then go bankrupt, the judge can’t take the trip away from you. In this edition we have a travel report from Christina Aanestad the Associate Producer for Radio Curious. Christina recently returned from a 6 week exploratory, journalist visit from Ecuador, a favorite country of mine.

We visited at the Radio Curious studios on August 29, 2011, to discuss her adventures and what she learned about oil drilling, gold mining and dam construction, as well as what motivated her to take this trip.

The books that Christina Aanestad recommend are, “Now is the Time to Open Your Heart,” by Alice Walker and “Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings,” by Rob Brezney.

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Abuzada, Fadi & Rahman, AHM Bazlur — Community Radio Around the World

Radio Curious host and producer Barry Vogel and associate producer Janet Mendell attended the 10th international congress of the World Association of Community Broadcasters, known as AMARC.  AMARC is a network of more than 4,000 community radio stations, in more than 100 countries.

Founded in 1983, its goal is to democratize the media sector. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the international, national, local and neighborhood levels. It defends and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through global solidarity, networking and cooperation. The 10th AMARC congress was held near Buenos Aires, Argentina the second week of November 2010, with 500 delegates from 86 countries present.

In addition to presenting a workshop on interviewing skills, Radio Curious interviewed conference delegates from several different countries. In this edition of Radio Curious, the first in a series about local community radio around the world, we visit with Fadi Abuzada, a community radio activist in Palestine and AHM Bazlur Rahman, the CEO of the Bangladesh NGO’s Network for Radio and Communication.

The interviews were recorded in November 2010, in La Plata, Argentina.

Fadi Abuzada recommends the movie, The Little Town of Bethlehem.

AHM Bazlur Rahman recommends visiting his organizations website,, instead of reading a book.

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Fogg, Charles — Prisoner Of War Interrogations In World War Two And The Korean War

From interrogating Japanese prisoners of war to working as an anti-war activist, Ukiah, California resident Charles Fogg has led a varied and fascinating life. At 91 years of age he talks through his life’s journey. After studying Oriental studies at the University of California, Berkeley and traveling through Japan and China during those studies, he was drafted into the military and attended the Monterey Language School, where his proficiency in Asian languages grew. During World War Two he interrogated Japanese prisoners of war and Chinese prisoners of war in the Korean conflict. After retiring from the U.S. army in 1966 as a Lieutenant Colonel he became active in George McGovern’s presidential campaign and the anti Vietnam war movement. I spoke with Charles Fogg in the studios of Ukiah TV on December 11th 2009 and began by asking him about his early travels in Japan and China.

The book recommended by Charles Fogg is “The Raj Quartet,” by Paul Scott.

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Bennell, Alan — A Horticultural Extravaganza in Scotland

Some of us may be curious about the vast diversity of plants around the world and might wonder who collects and identifies new species and where might we see them displayed? In this edition, the 2009 Radio Curious tour of Scotland continues as we visit with Alan Bennell, head of visitor services at the Royal Botanic Garden located in Edinburgh, Scotland. Alan Bennell guides us through this horticultural extravaganza and describes how the collection has grown since it opened in the 17th Century and how the research conducted there is used in conservation efforts around the world.

This interview with Alan Bennell was recorded on May 18th, 2009, a windy rainy day with birds singing in the background, in the Royal Botanic Garden located in Edinburgh, Scotland. We begin the conversation by asking him to introduce himself and the gardens. Please ignore the sounds of the wind and rain, but do enjoy the chirping of the birds.

The book recommended by Alan Bennell  is “The Chronicles of Bob Dylan,” by Bob Dylan.

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Fairlie, Jim — Founding Farmers Markets In Scotland

As part of a series of Radio Curious on tour in Scotland,  we interview Jim Fairlie, the organizer of Farmers Markets in Scotland. Jim is a farmer by trade at Logie Almond Farm near Perth in the southern end of the Scottish Highlands. A decade ago, following the mad cow disease crisis, Jim Fairlie saw the need for farmers to market their own produce rather than rely on Government subsidies. After returning from a holiday in France, where he was blown away by the local markets, he set up Edinburgh’s much celebrated monthly farmers market, which now attract as many as 10,000 visitors. In our conversation we discuss how the farmers market movement gained momentum and the trials and tribulations of getting farmers and consumers to understand each other’s needs.

I spoke with Jim Fairlie at his farmhouse kitchen table near Perth, Scotland on May 17th 2009. We began with his story of how farmers markets in Scotland began.

The book Jim Fairlie recommends is “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” by Lionel Shriver

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