Working Then and Now, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, & Mugshots

Oct 7, 2016

Radio host, writer and historian Louis "Studs" Terkel was known for intimate oral histories of ordinary people—a collection of previously unheard recordings from his landmark 1974 book Working—revealing how regular Americans viewed their jobs four decades ago, and how that's changed.

On today’s show, The Working Tapes. Plus, the real cost of a mug shot. Police station photos of someone arrested for a crime are considered public record by the American justice system. They're also a multi-million dollar source of revenue for internet scammers.

We’ll also hear about a podcast that looks at Harry Potter as a sacred text. 

Listen to the full show:

Working Then and Now

Author and broadcaster Louis "Studs" Terkel was known for his personable, down to earth interviewing style, and his powerful oral histories of World War II and The Great Depression. His gift was his ability to connect with ordinary men and women - and nowhere is that more evident than in his 1974 book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day And How They Feel About What They Do.

In order to write his book on the working lives of everyday people, Terkel conducted more than 130 interviews with men and women - recordings that have gone unheard until now.  All this week, as part of a collaboration between Radio Diaries and Project& these recordings are being recovered and broadcast on NPR, and on the Radio Diaries podcast.  Joe Richman is the founder and executive producer of Radio Diaries, and has been compared to Studs Terkel himself - he joined us to share more about the project, how work has changed in America since the release of Stud's book, and why these interviews matter.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

The first Harry Potter book was published in Britain in 1997 by then first time author J.K. Rowling. Since then, there have been six more books, a franchise of movies, a theme park, spin-off stories, and more fan fiction than the internet knows what to do with. And this summer, the story went in a new direction, an official entry into the potter-verse that wasn't penned by its holy creator: a play about the-boy-who-lived, now a father, had an initial print run of 4.5 million copies - more than twice that of Harper Lee's highly anticipated Go Set a Watchman.

If it sounds like we’re building to somewhere – we are. The point is, nearly twenty years after the first book was published - even with all this other stuff out there - people are still looking towards the original seven books s as a source for life- lessons, inspiration and comfort - not unlike sacred texts. And that's the idea behind a new podcast.

Vanessa Zoltan is co-host of the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, along with Casper ter Kuile – the podcast is produced by Ariana Nedelman. Our biggest resident Potter fan, producer Molly Donahue spoke to Vanessa to find out more. 

Saint John Coltrane Church

From Gregorian chants and ancient Hindu ragas to Christian rock, religious music has a long history, and just about every major religion has its own musical traditions. But music doesn't have to be written or performed for the church, synagogue, or temple to have a profound, even spiritual effectProducer Julie Napolin of Philosophy Talk has this story of how a secular jazz musician inspired a devoted religious following.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

Profiting Off of Mugshots

It's a sacred principle of our criminal justice system: a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Public opinion however, is a little more hasty - and internet scammers capitalize on that impatience, by holding people's reputations for ransom. Natasha Del Toro is a correspondent for Fusion's "Naked Truth" investigative team, and lead producer of a year-long project, culminating in a documentary called, Mugged, which exposes the mugshot extortion industry.

San Quentin Prison Report: Lockdown

A prison lockdown is called when correctional officers decide there is a threat to safety or security. It could be a fight, an assault, or in extreme cases, a riot. And it’s pretty much what it sounds like. During lockdown, inmates have to stay in their cells until the disturbance is contained. They can't go anywhere unless strip-searched, handcuffed, and escorted by correctional officers.

Throughout a lockdown, inmates spend 24 hours a day with at least one other cell mate in a space the size of your average bathroom. And the confinement can last months. So what becomes of a man’s daily routine? How does he overcome boredom? And if he knows it might be coming, how does he prepare? Adnan Khan brings us this report from San Quentin prison.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.