Travel Interviews --


Bob Blincoe

The Kurdish People

The word millet is a term from the Ottoman Empire that ruled parts of Europe Central to the Near East from 1430 to 1921 and means “a recognized people or cultural group who have no homeland.”  Millet now applies to the Kurdish people, who live in the Zagros Mountains, where the borders of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran converge.  Starting with Gulf War of 1991, 25 million Kurdish people live homeless and stateless in the Zagros Mountains.  They are subject to frequent attacks from the Turks and the Iraqis.   Bob Blincoe, a Presbyterian minister, lived and worked as a community organizer among the Kurds in the Zagros Mountains for five and one-half years until the Fall of 1996.  At first he spoke Arabic, so he wouldn’t stand out as someone working with a suspect minority.  He quickly learned Kurdish and has many interesting stories to share.

Bob Blincoe recommends "A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern World," by David Fromkin.

Originally Broadcast: May 14, 1997

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Mike & Halle Brady

Life in Vladivostok, Russia

Vladivostok, Russia, at the very eastern end of Siberia, is a city of about 800,000 people.  It is the same distance north of the equator as is central Oregon and Rome, Italy.  It’s close to the border of China and North Korea.  This city was closed to everyone, including Russians, until the early 1990s.  Halle Brady and Mike Brady, formerly of Potter Valley, California, spent two years teaching in Vladivostok and, in this program, we shared their experiences there.

Mike Brady recommends "Lenin's Tomb," by David Remnick. Halle Brady recommends "Gates of November," by Chiam Potok.

Originally Broadcast: July 3, 1998

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Zana Briski

Ross Kauffman

Brothels of Calcutta, India

Born Into Brothels

"Born into Brothels" received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, "Born into Brothels" is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes.  The most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red light district however are not the prostitutes, but their children. In the face of abject poverty, abuse, and despair, these kids have little possibility of escaping their mother's fate or for creating another type of life.  In "Born into Brothels," directors Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman chronicle the amazing transformation of the children they come to know in the red light district. Briski, a professional photographer, gives them lessons and cameras, igniting latent sparks of artistic genius that reside in these children who live in the most sordid and seemingly hopeless world.  The photographs taken by the children are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reflect something much larger, morally encouraging, and even politically volatile: art as an immensely liberating and empowering force.  Devoid of sentimentality, "Born into Brothels" defies the typical tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spends years with these kids and becomes part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities or primitive imagery, and a true testimony of the power of the indelible creative spirit.  You can learn about this film and Kids with Cameras at  I spoke with Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman on February 2005.  Beginning the conversation first with Zana Briski, I asked her to explain what drew her to India before the concept of Kids with Cameras was even a dream.

Zana Briski recommends "Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd.

Originally Broadcast: March 15, 2007

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Andy Case

An Aquarium for Kids

Have you ever wanted to look at penguins while they look at you, or crawl past giant clams, or see eye to eye with tropical sharks?  Well, you can do that at Monterey Bay Aquarium, in Monterey, California.  Splash Zone was an exhibit featured in the summer of 2000.  It was designed for families with children from infants to age 9, but was also very fun for adults.  I visited Splash Zone early in that summer  and spoke with Andy Case, the special projects coordinator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  He was on the team that created Splash Zone.

Andy Case recommends “Tropical Nature,” by Adrian Forsyth & Ken Miyata.

Originally Broadcast: June 27, 2000

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Dennis del Castillo

Mercedes Lu

Peruvian Environmental Issues, 1998

In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit Dennis del Castillo and Mercedes Lu, two environmental activists from Peru.  I met with them in Lima, Peru on February 5th, 1998. Dennis del Castillo, who holds a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in soil science and in this interview describes contemporary environmental problems in the Peruvian Amazon Basin.  In the second half of this program we visit with Mercedes Lu, a scientific technician, who described some of the problems resulting from copper mining that occurs along the coast of southern Peru.  We began our conversation when I asked Dennis del Castillo to describe the potential of the Peruvian Amazon Basin.

Dennis del Castillo recommends “The Losing Ground,” by Erik P. Eckholm.

Originally Broadcast: April 3, 1998

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Laura Cheek

At Home in Glacier Bay

Some of the most studied glaciers in the world are found in Glacier Bay National Park located in southeastern Alaska.  These expansive ice sheets cover approximately ten percent of the earth’s surface and hold eighty percent of the world’s fresh water, ninety-nine percent of which can be found in Greenland and Antarctica.  Due to gravity’s pull, glaciers shape and scour the landscape moving land and vegetation great distances as they slowly slide downward toward the sea.  This glacial movement has created rich farmland, vast deposits of gravel and sand, and concentrated valuable metals, depending on where they glaciers have traveled.   Glaciers also create deep valleys and fjords, like the kind seen in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.  Laura Cheek was a national park ranger at Glacier Bay National Park in 1996 when this program was recorded.  As part of her job, she boarded tour ships in Glacier Bay to discuss glaciers, what they’re like and how they’re formed.

Laura Cheek recommends "The Island Within," by Richard Nelson.

Originally Broadcast: August 14, 1996

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Paul Coverdale

Peace Corps Priorities, 1991

This program’s guest is Paul Coverdale, at the time the Director of the Peace Corps, appointed by the first President Bush.  He later became a Senator from Georgia.  Our discussion concerned the nature of the Peace Corps and Coverdale’s role as the agency’s director.

Originally Broadcast: August 19, 1991

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Gary Coy

The Man Driving the Dog Team

There is strong historical and anthropological evidence that dogs came across the Bering land bridge with people migrating from Siberia to Alaska.  These dogs worked hard to maintain their keep; they weren’t pets.  Instead, they chased and ran down polar bears and located seals hiding beneath the Bering ice.  One of the early dog professionals in Alaska was Harry Karstens, who later became the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park.  As a young man, he pioneered a dog sled route from Fairbanks to Valdez, and hauled mail to the Katishna mining district.  Now, at Denali National Park in central Alaska, there’s a breeding and training and leadership program for these sled dogs.  I spoke with Gary Coy, the director of this remarkable kennel.  In his office there is a large sign quoting Harry Karstens.  It says: “A man driving a dog team is the biggest dog himself.”  Amid the noise and the chatter of the dog kennels in Denali Park, I asked Gary to explain what that sign means and to tell us a little about this wonderful project.

Gary Coy recommends "A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon," by Arthur Walden.

Originally Broadcast: August 28, 1996

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Patricia Edmistin

Peace Corps, Peru, 1962-1964

The Mourning of Angles

The life of Lydia Schaefer is a composite fictional story of a 22 year-old woman who served in the Peace Corps in Peru from 1962 to 1964.  Patricia Taylor Edmisten, a former Peace Corps Volunteer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tells Lydia’s story in her book, “The Mourning of Angles,” based in part on her experiences in the Peace Corps in Peru during those years.

Patricia Edmistin recommends "The Accidental Pope," by Raymond Flynn & Robin Moore.

Originally Broadcast: November 15, 2002

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Horace Greeley & David Fenimore

Go West, Young Man, Go West!

Newspapers were the primary means of mass communication in 19th Century America.  They not only told the news, but they pervaded social and political ideas of the times.  Horace Greeley was one of the most colorful and outspoken newspapermen of his day.  “Read and judge yourself,” was a slogan of his, almost as well known in his lifetime as his slogan, “Go west, young man, go west,” is known now.  I spoke with Horace Greeley through the personage of Chautauqua scholar David Fenimore during the 1996 Democracy in America Chautauqua series that visited Ukiah, CA.

Horace Greeley recommends "Democracy in America," by Alexis de Tocqueville. David Fenimore recommends "Breaking News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy," by James Fallows & "Who Will Tell the People?" by William Greider.

Originally Broadcast: February 26, 1997

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Prof. Alberto Kattan

Argentinan Environmental Issues in 1993

The late Professor Alberto Kattan, a Professor of Law at Buenos Aires University and one of the foremost litigators of environmental issues in Argentina, is my guest on this archive edition of Radio Curious.  In our conversation originally broadcast in March 1993, we discussed the future of the penguins that he was and endeavoring to protect, dolphins, the use of 245T, and problems with the tobacco industry in Argentina.

Originally Broadcast: March 7, 1993

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M. Wayne Knight

Rural American Artist in Cambodia

Wayne Knight, an artist based in Mendocino County, California with over 40 years of experience, traveled very little before he found himself in Phnom Phen, Cambodia in 1995 and 1996.  He spent just under a year there, looking, seeing, and painting scenes that previously were beyond his imagination.  Wayne Knight also worked with the Cambodian Defenders’ Project in developing computer access to their legal resources in Cambodia.  His experience verified his security and, in many ways, enhanced his continuing growth as an artist.  Other programs you may enjoy are with Daniel Ellsberg discussing the Pentagon Papers and Vietman, and with Linda Kremer, Esq., a Marin County, California, public defender who took a leave of absence to direct the Cambodian Defenders Project.  They both may be found on this website.

Wayne Knight recommends “Living My Life,” by Emma Goldman.

Originally Broadcast: April 2, 1997

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Patrick McGrath

Moving to America in 1774

Martha Peake

Imagine leaving home and travelling by yourself to a new land where you don’t know the customs or the politics, on a trip that will take weeks to complete in what would now be considered a very small ship, on turbulent waters.  Imagine making this voyage, never to return to your homeland, when you are 15 years old, and pregnant.  Soon after you arrive a war begins that changes the face of the country and set a new type of government in motion.  Imagine researching this story and then writing it.  That is the work of Patrick McGrath, the author of “Martha Peake,” a book about a plucky young woman who came to American in 1774.  I spoke with Patrick McGrath by phone in 2001 to talk about “Martha Peake,” how he researched and prepared to write it, and what British students are taught about the American Revolution.

Patrick McGrath recommends “The First American,” by H.W. Brown.

Originally Broadcast: January 16, 2001

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Brad Newsham

A Taxi Across America

Take Me With You: Around The World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home

Have you ever made friends with someone from a place where you visited as a traveler?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like for that person to visit you in your home and your surroundings?  Well, that is what Brad Newsham did.  He is the author of “Take Me With You: A Round The World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home.”

Brad Newsham recommends "Dangerous Beauty," by Mark Ross.

Originally Broadcast: May 7, 2002

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Frank Pacino

Life in the Marine Corps

When recruiters from the Armed Forces of the United States seek out volunteers, they often portray military life to be a great adventure.  They talk of schooling, travel and excitement.  Sometimes that is not the case.  In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit Sgt. Frank Pacino, who spent his early life in Covelo, California and then moved to Ukiah, California.  Frank Pacino was recruited into the Marine Corps in early 2001 and is now a Sergeant.  He was one of the first troops to go into Iraq in 2002, where he spent approximately six months.  He was returned to Iraq in 2004 for a year.

Frank Pacino recommends "Bush At War," by Bob Woodward.

Originally Broadcast: May 17, 2005

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Dr. Donald Perry

A Ride Through a Rain Forest in Costa Rica

Life Above the Jungle Floor

In the middle of the Costa Rican rain forest, about an hour west of San Jose, Costa Rica, on the east side of the continental divide, you can find the Rain Forest Aerial Tram located on a private rain forest reserve.  It’s a series of small, open-air cars that hold about five people each held together by a three kilometers long cable.  The tramcars carry visitors through, above and below this portion of the Central American rainforest canopy.  The Rain Forest Aerial Tram was the brainchild of Dr. Donald Perry, a biologist trained at the University of California at Los Angeles, who, beginning in 1970, has specialized in the study of the flora and fauna of the Central American Rainforest.  In April of 1995, I visited the Rain Forest Aerial Tram with Dr. Perry.

Dr. Donald Perry recommends "Life Above the Jungle Floor," by Dr. David Perry.

Originally Broadcast: April 1, 1995

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Ed Reinhart & Earl Dixon

Don't Shoot The Piano Player

Earl Dixon is a veteran traveler, a veteran piano player, and he’s actually a veteran, too.  An interesting story.  Earl Dixon, the man on this show, traveled around the world, and has a lot of familiar stories to tell to those of us here in Mendocino County.

Originally Broadcast: June 11, 2002

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Ken Rockwell

A View Through the Lens:  Photography and the Internet

With the help of a camera, especially a digital camera, and the internet we may now see portions of what other people have seen and sent our way or perhaps have made public.  Sometime soon I hope to present some visual images I think special in addition to the sound images you can hear here on the Radio Curious website.  In preparation for creating those images I found my way to an intriguing photography website called  This website has many references about cameras, how to choose and use them, and it also tells the story of a man who freely shares his knowledge and skills about photography.  After reading his website I invited Ken Rockwell to join us for a conversation about photography, cameras, websites and the use of the internet.  Ken Rockwell and I visited by phone in early May, 2006, from his home near San Diego, California.  For him, good photography narrows down to seeing better which he describes to be more of a feeling than an actual momentary vision.

Ken Rockwell recommends "Ten-Thousand Miles of America," by Richard A. Suleski, Jr..

Originally Broadcast: May 9, 2006

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Domingo Sarmiento & Daniel Lewis

An Argentine President

Domingo Sarmiento, a teacher and later President of the Republic of Argentina, spent several years traveling in Europe and the United States in the mid-19th Century.  He spent six weeks in the US in the fall of 1847 and later published his account of this visit, selectively interpreting what he saw and experienced to conform to his ideas.  In this archive edition of Radio Curious, I visit with Domingo Sarmiento in the person of Professor Daniel Lewis, a scholar-presenter in the 1996 Democracy in America Chautauqua.  I met with Domingo Sarmiento during a break in the Chautauqua programming in Ukiah, California, and asked him what he saw the future of the American Union to be, from his perspective in 1843.

Domingo Sarmiento recommends any book by James Fenimore Cooper. Daniel Lewis recommends "The Invention of Argentina," by Nicolas Shumway.

Originally Broadcast: July 27, 1996

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Andrew Weiss

Ellis Island: Who Arrived There, Why and What Was it Like

Between 1892 and 1956 about 12 million people immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York City.  Who were these immigrants? Where did they come from?  What was the experience of getting to Ellis Island and what happened to them once they arrived?  In this archive edition of Radio Curious, we visited with Andrew Weiss, who I met in 1992 when he was a tour guide at Ellis Island, working for the City of New York.  I spoke with Andrew Weiss in November of 1992, when he was a doctoral candidate at Columbia University and a teacher at Barnard College in New York City.  I asked him to begin by telling us about the history of Ellis Island.

Originally Broadcast: November 23, 1992

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Philip Weiss

Cover-up of a Peace Corps Murder

American Taboo, A Murder in Peace Corps

In this edition of Radio Curious, we take a look at murder and getting away with murder.  In the small island kingdom of Tonga, an American Peace Corps Volunteer murdered another American Peace Corps volunteer in October 1976.  “American Taboo, A Murder in Peace Corps,” by Philip Weiss, is a detailed story about the murder, how and why it happened, the legend that developed, the subsequent cover-up, and an interview with the murderer.

Philip Weiss recommends "McArthur and Southerland, The Good Years," & "McArthur and Southerland, The Bitter Years," both by Paul P. Rogers 

Originally Broadcast: June 29, 2003

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Spencer Wells

The Peopling of the World

The Journey of Man, A Genetic Odyssey

Around 60,000 years ago, a man - identical to us in all important genetic respects - lived in Africa.  Every person alive today is descended from him.  This is known because the secrets of human evolution are hidden in our genetic code.  In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit with geneticist Spencer Wells, author of the book and movie, “Journey of Man, A Genetic Odyssey.”

Spencer Wells recommends "No Logo," by Naomi Klein.

Originally Broadcast: February 10, 2004

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Corporal Gabriel West & Sgt. Hugh Griffin

The First English Settlement in the New World

Please join me as we go back in history to the year 1584, to the East Coast of what is now the United States.  In that year, Queen Elizabeth the First, then the Queen of England, sent Sir Walter Raleigh in command of three seafaring expeditions to what they called the New World.  These expeditions landed on the central coast of what is now North Carolina and became the first English settlements in North America.  They called the region Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth the First, the maiden Queen of England.  The Cultural Resources Division of the North Carolina Division of History has recreated a model of the seafarers' ship, called Elizabeth the Second, which carried these small groups of soldiers across the ocean in 1585.  In-character actors, talking as real people living in 1585, are on site near Roanoke, North Carolina.  I first spoke with a man who called himself Sgt. Hugh Griffin.  He claimed to be in charge of the small outpost, one of several they established on their arrival a few days before.

Originally Broadcast: July 1, 1995

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