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Scene on Radio

A Podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
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Scene on Radio
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Apr 26, 2017

When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Host John Biewen spoke with some white Southern friends about that tendency. Part Six of our ongoing series, Seeing White. With recurring guest, Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Image: A lynching on Clarkson Street, New York City, during the Draft Riots of 1863. Credit: Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation.

Shannon Sullivan’s books, Revealing Whiteness and Good White People.

 Thanks to Chris Julin, whose 1991 NPR report on the Wisconsin fishing rights dispute we featured.

Apr 12, 2017

Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen heard next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event. In 1862, Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history – the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors – following one of the major wars between Plains Indians and settlers. In this documentary, originally produced for This American Life, John goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it afterwards.

 

Image: The Minnesota State Seal, 1858

 

Key sources for this episode:

Gwen Westerman, Mni Sota Makoce
Mary Wingerd, North Country: The Making of Minnesota

Mar 30, 2017

“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

 

Key sources for this episode:

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

The Racial Equity Institute

 

Mar 16, 2017

Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive – and strikingly cruel – laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today. By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

 

Key sources for this episode:

The Racial Equity Institute

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Mar 1, 2017

For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

Photo: The Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal. The highlighted figure in the center is an effigy of Gomes Eanes de Zurara. The figure at the top right is Prince Henry the Navigator. Photo by Harvey Barrison.  

Feb 15, 2017

Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. An introduction to our series exploring what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Jan 25, 2017

Facts can be ignored by the powers that be and still ignite a movement. An interview with Tim Tyson, author of the new book, The Blood of Emmett Till. Tyson was the first historian or journalist to interview the former Carolyn Bryant, the woman in whose name Emmett Till was murdered in 1955.

Jan 11, 2017

There’s a long and painful history in the U.S. of white men killing black men and boys without punishment. In this episode, we listen in on “Dar He,” the one-man play by Mike Wiley that brings to life the story of Emmett Till.

Dec 14, 2016

The last in our series exploring the spirit of America in the footsteps of one of its greatest writers, John Steinbeck. At key spots on Steinbeck’s 1960 journey across the country, we team up with artists to explore how things have changed, or not, and to talk back to Steinbeck across the years. In this episode, visits with theater director Troy Nickerson in Spokane, Washington, and poet Diana Garcia in Monterey, California.

Nov 30, 2016

The second in a three-part series, journeying into the soul of America through the eyes of artists, while following in the footsteps of Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck who drove across the country in 1960 for his iconic book, Travels with Charley. In this episode, photographer Wayne Gudmundson in eastern North Dakota, and Yurok basket weaver Susan “Tweet” Burdick in Humboldt County, California. Produced by John Biewen.

Nov 16, 2016

First in a three-part journey into the soul of America, through the eyes of working people who happen to be artists. In this episode, David Slater in Sag Harbor, New York, and Kalamu ya Salaam in New Orleans. Retracing the 1960 journey by writer John Steinbeck for his book, “Travels with Charley in Search of America.” Produced by John Biewen.

Nov 2, 2016

Siler City, North Carolina used to be a typical Southern town. Everybody was white or black. Now the town’s population is half Latino. One community’s journey through the “five stages of grief” – all the way to acceptance? By John Biewen and Tennessee Watson. Music by Blue Dot Sessions and Lucas Biewen.

Oct 19, 2016

How to grieve when the deaths come so quickly? How, as an African American mother, to protect your child’s innocence and hope? An audio essay by Stacia Brown.

Oct 7, 2016

Scene on Radio is a podcast that asks, How’s it going out there? And leaves the studio to find out, capturing the sounds of life happening and telling stories that explore human experience and American society. 

Jul 27, 2016

The last installment in our Storymakers series. Four pieces by citizen storytellers on living together, and apart, in Durham, North Carolina. By Vimala Rajendran, Chip and Teddy Denton, Courtney Reid-Eaton, and Nia Wilson.

Jul 13, 2016


More from our team of citizen storytellers in Durham, NC. Stories by Courtney Smith, Katt Ryce, and Kimani Hall, exploring the things that unite and divide people in Durham and in America. Part of Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore: #FindingAmerica initiative.

Jun 30, 2016

Three stories conceived and made by citizen storytellers Jamila Davenport, Roberto Nava, and Debby Bussel explore race, class, and gentrification in Durham, North Carolina

Part of Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore: #FindingAmerica initiative.

Music by Lucas Biewen and Blue Dot Sessions.

Jun 15, 2016

Can stories help to bring a community together?  How about radio stories, conceived and made by citizen storytellers? Introducing Storymakers: Durham, a project of the national Localore: #FindingAmerica initiative.

May 26, 2016

The word “Hiroshima” may bring to mind a black-and-white image of a mushroom cloud. It’s easy to forget that it’s an actual city with a million people and a popular baseball team. How did the cataclysm of 1945 reverberate in the place where it happened?

Hearing Hiroshima is a production of Minnesota Public Radio, from American Public Media.

May 18, 2016

It can take a lifetime to make sense of a parent, or to get over him. Or, just maybe, to come to terms. By Ruxandra Guidi.

May 4, 2016

The people we love have power—the power to upend our lives, or at least to make things interesting. Two stories of surprises, curveballs thrown by family members. Pieces by Qathi Hart and John Rash.

Apr 20, 2016

A quartet of very short works exploring memory – most inspired by Third Coast Audio Festival ShortDoc Challenges. Pieces by Ligaiya Romero, Madeline Miller, Nan Pincus, and John Biewen.

Apr 6, 2016

A punk farmer. A tale of rogue chickens on the loose in the city. A pair of refreshing takes on the whole Food thing, in and around Durham, NC. Pieces by Emily Hilliard and Joseph Decosimo.

Mar 23, 2016

A refugee from Bosnia. An NYC-born survivor who grew up poor, black, Muslim, and gay. And how one, and her music, saved the other.

Mar 9, 2016

People in two communities – one in Alaska, one in New York State – wrestle with questions about energy and the environment. We listen in on democracy close to home. Stories by John Biewen and Jon Miller, edited by Deb George.

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