Fugitive Waves—From the Peabody Award-winning producers, The Kitchen Sisters (NPR's Lost & Found Sound, Hidden Kitchens, Hidden World of Girls). This show mines the Sisters deep archive of stories, lost recordings and shards of sound, along with new tales from remarkable people around the world. Stories from the flip side of history. Fugitive Waves is produced by the Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with Tom Corwin and mixed by Jim McKee.
102 - Archive Fever: Henri Langlois and the Cinémathèque Française (10/2018)
Keepers: people possessed with a passion for preservation, individuals afflicted with a bad case of Archive Fever. The Keepers continues with the story of one such man, Henri Langlois, founder and curator of one of the world’s great film archives, the Cinémathèque Française. Henri Langlois never made a single film — but he's considered one of the most important figures in the history of filmmaking. Possessed by what French philosopher Jacques Derrida called "archive fever," Langlois begin obsessively collecting films in the 1930s — and by the outset of World War II, he had one of the largest film collections in the world. The archive's impact on the history of French cinema is legendary — as is the legacy of its controversial keeper.
101 - The Keepers: The Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky (9/2018)
During the Depression, those horrible years after 1929, the Appalachians were hit hard. Coal mines were being shut down. Many people were living in dire poverty with no hope. In 1936, as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Kentucky WPA began to hire pack horse librarians, mostly women, to carry books to isolated cabins, rural school houses and homebound coalminers.
The routes were rugged and treacherous. The “bookwomen” followed creek beds and fence routes through summer heat and frozen winters — their saddlebags and pillowcases stuffed with Robinson Crusoe, Women’s Home Companion, Popular Mechanics. Many people were illiterate and the women often stayed and read to them.
The pay was $28 a month. Each woman was required to supply her own horse or mule, their food and boarding. When the program closed in 1943 as America entered World War II, nearly one thousand pack horse librarians had served 1.5 million people in 48 Kentucky counties.
100 - The Keepers: Archiving the Underground—The Hip Hop Archive (9/2018)
This is the first episode in our new series THE KEEPERS—stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians—Keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections they keep.
We begin at The Hip Hop Archive and Research Center at Harvard. In the late 1990’s the students of Dr. Marcyliena Morgan, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, started falling by her office, imploring her to listen to hip hop. They wanted her to hear this new underground sound and culture being created, the word play, the rhyming, the rapping. They wanted her to help them begin to archive this new medium. “Hip Hop *is *an archive," they told her. Dr. Morgan wasn’t an archivist and she didn’t listen to hip hop. But she listened to her students and saw a new kind of soundtrack emerging from the cracks.
Bit by bit she opened her office and her resources and began to collect the history and material culture of hip hop. Some 15 years later the Archive has gone from her office at UCLA to Harvard, where she and Professor Henry Louis Gates founded The Hiphop Archive & Research Institute at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute whose mission is to “facilitate and encourage the pursuit of knowledge, art, culture, scholarship and responsible leadership through Hiphop.” Along with gathering everything about hip hop for preservation and study, the Archive created the Nasir Jones Fellowship for scholarly research in the field, named for Nas, one of hip hop’s titans, and the “Classic Crates Project,” a collection that aims to archive 200 seminal hip hop albums in the same Harvard music library that houses the works of Mozart, Bertolt Brecht and Edith Piaf. The first four—Nas’ “Illmatic,” “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “The Low End Theory” by a Tribe Called Quest have been inducted into the University’s Loeb Music Library.
You’ll hear from Professor Marcyliena Morgan, Nas, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Nas Fellow Patrick Douthit aka 9th Wonder, The Hip Hop Fellows working at the Archive, an array of Harvard Archivists, and students studying at the Archive and the records, music and voices being preserved there.
And we take a look at the Cornell University Hip Hop Collection, founded in 2007, through a sampling of stories from Assistant Curator Jeff Ortiz, Johan Kugelberg author of “Born in the Bronx,” and hip hop pioneers Grandmaster Caz, Pebblee Poo, Roxanne Shante and more.
99 - Lovers of Lost Fans (8/2018)
In 2000 we received a call to the NPR Lost & Found Sound Hotline from Willard Mayes, a member of the Antique Fan Collectors Association, who was concerned about the vanishing sound of electric fans. Willard leads Jay Allison, Curator and “Keeper” of the Quest for Sound Hotline, to the Vornado Fan factory, Michael Coup and the Antique Fan Museum, where passionate collectors can tell the make, model and year of a fan by its whir.
Also, NPR producer Art Silverman plunges into the sound collection of one of America’s giant corporations — AT&T — exploring how this one-time monopoly chronicled its own history and sold itself to America.
98 - Lost & Found Sound and Voices of The Dust Bowl (8/2018)
Fish mongers recorded on the streets of Harlem in the 1930s. An 8-year-old girl’s impromptu news cast made on a toy recorder in a San Diego store. Lyndon Johnson talking to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover a week after President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Sounds lost and found.
As The Kitchen Sisters prepare to launch their new series The Keepers, about activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors, historians and the collections they keep—they re-visit their own “accidental archive” of recordings amassed over the years.
And Voices from the Dust Bowl, produced by Peabody Award winning producer Barrett Golding for the Lost & Found Sound series.
In the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of people from Oklahoma and Arkansas traveled to California, fleeing the dust storms and poverty of the Depression.
In the summer of 1940, Charles Todd was hired by the Library of Congress to visit the federal camps where many of these migrants lived, to create an audio oral history of their stories. Todd carried a 50-pound Presto recorder from camp to camp that summer, interviewing the migrant workers. He made hundreds of hours
of recordings on acetate and cardboard discs. Todd was there at the same time that John Steinbeck was interviewing many of the same people in these camps, for research on a new novel called "The Grapes of Wrath." Producer Barrett Golding went though this massive, rare collection of Todd's recordings to create this story of the Dust Bowl refugees narrated by Charles Todd.
97 - Pan American Blues: The Birth of The Grand Ole Opry & "Harmonica Wizard" Deford Bailey (7/2018)
The story of the birth of the Grand Ole Opry on radio station WSM in Nashville, TN and the story of “Harmonica Wizard” DeFord Bailey, the Opry’s first African American performer.
WSM’s most popular show, the Grand Ole Opry, the longest running radio show in the US, started in 1925 as the WSM Barn Dance featuring a wealth of talent from the hills of Tennessee and all around the rural south—Uncle Dave Macon “The Dixie Dewdrop,” Roy Acuff and His Smokey Mountain Boys, Minnie Pearl and hundreds of others performed on the wildly popular Saturday night show.
Starting in 1928, the legendary “Harmonica Wizard” DeFord Bailey was on the show more often than any other person. In fact, one of DeFord’s most popular pieces, Pan American Blues, inspired the announcer to dub the show The Grand Ole Opry. DeFord suffered from polio as a child and started playing the harmonica when he was 3 years old. Four-and-a-half feet tall, always impeccably dressed in a suit, he had the uncanny ability of imitating and incorporating sounds into his harmonica playing—trains, animals, fox hunts. Because it was radio, the audience was unaware DeFord was the only African American among the all-white cast. But when he toured with the other Opry stars he could not stay in the same hotels or eat in the same restaurants. He had to sleep in the car. Sometimes Uncle Dave Macon would haul the back seat out of his car and tell the hotel DeFord was his valet so he could sleep inside his room.
The Pan American passenger train is a through line in this story. When we were working on Lost & Found Sound, a series about the history of recorded sound, we got a letter from a listener who said that “no collection of sounds from the 20th century” would be complete without the sound of the Pan American passenger train.
Every night at 5:08 pm from August 1933 until June 1945, listeners to the 50,000 watt WSM radio station would hear the live sound of the Pan American, Louisville and Nashville’s passenger train, as it passed the station’s transmitter tower. They actually had a guy out there holding a mic recording the train every night at 5:08—avid listeners all across the south and Midwest would set their clocks by it.
So we followed up on the sound. We went to Nashville to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Foundation, where there are some real Keepers and Collectors of Sounds and stories. And as usual, stories beget stories… the sound of the Pan American train whistle and Radio station WSM led us to the story of the birth of the Grand Ole Opry, the oldest continuing running radio program… which led us to the remarkable story of the Grand Ole Opry’s first (and for many years only) African American performer, Harmonica Wizard Deford Bailey.
96 - Cry Me a River — Keepers of the Environment (7/2018)
The dramatic stories of three pioneering “Keepers” and environmental activists—Ken Sleight, Katie Lee, and Mark Dubois and the damming of wild rivers in the west.
Ken Sleight is a long time river and pack guide and activist in southern Utah who fought the damming of Glen Canyon and filling of Lake Powell from 1956-1966. An inspiration for Edward Abbey’s, Monkey Wrench Gang, Sleight is currently working on the campaign to remove Glen Canyon Dam.
Katie Lee, born in 1917, a former Hollywood starlet, ran the Colorado River through Glen Canyon long before it was dammed, and in 1955 was the 175th person to run the Grand Canyon. An outspoken conservationist, singer and writer, she spent her life fighting for rivers.
Mark Dubois, co-founder of Friends of the River, Earth Day and International Rivers Network, began as a river guide who opened up rafting trips to disabled people in the 1970s. Dubois protested the damming and flooding of the Stanislaus River by hiding himself in the river canyon and chaining himself to a rock as the water rose in 1979.
95 - Give Space A Chance: Gastrodiplomacy in Orbit (6/2018)
Russians preparing dinner for Americans in space? Sounds good to us.
There’s been a lot of jabber these days about creating a “Space Force,” a sixth branch of the US military to dominate outer space. Over the years we’ve talked with astronauts about what it’s like up there - about the food they eat and the teams they work with daily while orbiting the earth. It turns out they have other ideas about what can happen in space, like educating our youth and “gastrodipolmacy”— the use of food as a diplomatic tool to help resolve conflicts and foster connections between nations.
NASA astronaut Bill McArthur talks about the power of sharing meals with Russian Cosmonaut Valery Korzu during their six months together on the Space Station.
South Korea’s first astronaut, Astronaut Soyeon Yi, describes Kimchi Diplomacy in space, the Korean government’s efforts to invent kimchi for space travel, and the special Korean meal she prepared for her Russian comrades in orbit. Soyeon Yi, one of 36,000 applicants, became South Korea’s first astronaut in 2008. She talks about how she was selected and about the power of food: “Having kimchi in space, you are far from your home planet,” she says. “When you eat your own traditional food it makes you feel emotionally supported. I can feel my home.”
94 - Tequila Chamber of Commerce & The Birth of the Frozen Margarita (6/2018)
The Agave Goddess with 200 breasts; jimadors stripping lethal thorny leaves off agaves; farmers battling cambio climatico (climate change); distillers contemplating mono-culture production and the environmental impact of tequila; generations-old tequila makers versus globalization. Stories of tequila from the Tequila Region in Mexico and beyond.
Tequila does not only mean alcohol—it means Mexico’s culture, history and future. The biggest tequila companies are not Mexican anymore. They are internationally owned. The Tequila Chamber of Commerce is helping producers promote the drink. They are expected to sell millions and millions of liters to China in the future.
Guillermo Erikson Sauza, the fifth generation to make tequila in his family talks about how his grandfather unexpectedly sold the company in 1978 and how he has worked to build up a small a distillery making his Fortaleza brand in the traditional way. And Carmen Villareal, a tequilera, one of the few women in Mexico to run a Tequila company—Tequila San Matais, now 127 years old.
And Mariano Martinez, from a fourth generation family restaurant business in Dallas,Texas. How he developed the first frozen margarita machine in 1971, based on the 7-Eleven Slurpee machine, using a soft serve ice cream maker "suped up like a car." The machine is now at the Smithsonian.
93 - Prince and the Technician (5/2018)
In 1983 Prince hired LA sound technician, Susan Rogers, one of the few women in the industry, to move to Minneapolis and help upgrade his home recording studio as he began work on the album and the movie Purple Rain. Susan, a trained technician with no sound engineering experience became the engineer of Purple Rain, Parade, Sign o’ the Times, and all that Prince recorded for the next four years. For those four years, and almost every year after, Prince recorded at least a song a day and they worked together for 24 hours, 36 hours, 96 hours at a stretch, layering and perfecting his music and his hot funky sound. We interviewed Susan, who is now a Professor at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, for our upcoming NPR series, The Keepers — about activist archivists, rogue librarians, collectors, curators and historians. It was Susan who started Prince’s massive archive during her time with the legendary artist.