Season Of The Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock & Roll

Oct 26, 2015

In 1966, the top of the music charts had a decidedly split personality. Hits like Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees and Winchester Cathedral by The New Vaudeville Gang, were sharing the airwaves with The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows and The Rolling Stones Paint it Black

Stephen Cole via flickr Creative Commons /

From 9 to 5 to The Office, we’ve got plenty of examples of cookie-cutter cubicles where workers toil away in soul-crushing boredom and fatigue. On today’s show, we flip the script and hear a defense of office life. 

Print media circling the drain, record and film companies battling piracy, the rise of cheap, reality TV: while some sectors have bounced back from the recession, creative industries seem to remain in peril. A former arts reporter ponders the decline of the creative class and what society loses when artists can’t make a living.

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© Ryann Ford - All Rights Reserved

Last year we interviewed photographer Ryann Ford about a project she was working on: traveling the country to preserve the humble American rest stop through a series of photographs. These are relics of a time when most people traveled by car on vacations, and as new super stops pop up along highways, the simple rest stop is becoming extinct.

A Luminous Dress Inspired By The Firefly

Nov 13, 2014
Charlie Lemay

Biologists call it “signaling”, traits and behaviors that evolved because recipients respond to them in ways that benefit the signaler. Among humans, signals may not be quite as overt as the peacock fanning its tail:

or fireflies courting and sparking on a summer night:

Jasperdo via flickr Creative Commons

Among the things we take for granted in today’s America is knowing the time, which makes transportation, business and national events possible. This, however, was not always the case.

On today’s show, from building sewers to standardizing time, we’ll talk about the invisible innovations that got us where we are today. Then, we’ll take a look back to a controversial figure at the center of Portsmouth’s historic preservation movement, Miss Dorothy Vaughan.

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nshepherd via flickr Creative Commons

When an unrecognizable number shows up on your phone during election season, chances are pretty good that the caller is someone taking a poll. On today’s show, turning the tables on pollsters. We’ll find out how they view polling accuracy and ethics for Election 2012.

Also today, the aging bunnies –  a group of Playboy centerfold models now in their 60s and 70s, reject the idea that they victimized, and remember a more tasteful time for the men’s magazine.

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betmari via flickr Creative Commons

The ad agency for Royal Caribbean chose a lively, catchy tune for a series of commercials for the cruise line, but it didn’t exactly match the wholesome, fun loving image they were trying to promote. On today’s show we’ll explore how the power of sound can make or break an experience. Then, we’ll speak with the Israeli musician known as Kutiman, about crafting an album made entirely of unrelated sound samples from YouTube videos.

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What Is "Twee"?

Jun 9, 2014
Waponi via Flickr Creative Commons

We spoke with Marc Spitz about his new book Twee, in which he tries to give a comprehensive and explanatory history of “the gentle revolution.”

(You can hear that conversation here.)

The tenants of Twee are varied but they come down to this: there is darkness in this world that can only be overcome by cultivating passions that foster beauty and evoke a sense of innocence, goodness, and childhood.

In other words, when the world gets scary, just put a bird on it.

As with any cultural movement, the question of Twee can spark long debates (and trying to sort through “Twee vs. Not Twee” makes an awesome party game). To get you up to speed, here’s a handy list of things that are definitively Twee. As Twee defies categorization, we present this to you as a holistic experience, books mixing with music mixing with…hairstyles?

laverrue via Flickr Creative Commons

We are in the midst of a cultural movement…it’s called Twee and boy is it precious. Today we look into the gentle revolution that is Twee…from artisanal pickles to Wes Anderson films, why this retro wish for innocence is thriving. Then, we hear from a local jazz musician who has just released his debut album to good reviews. He has a long career ahead of him since he’s only 20 years old. Plus, a conversation with comedian Todd Glass. He’s been performing stand-up since 1982, but he made his boldest move in 2012 when he came out publicly as gay on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

The search for “cool” has been a quintessential cultural quest for decades: we all want to be cool, but by definition only a select few will ever achieve it, and only for an instant. So what is “cool,” anyway, and why are we so fascinated by the people who make cool? Here to answer that question is Dan Kois. He's Senior Editor at Slate, which is doing a month-long series on the nature of cool. 

Diettogo1 via Flickr Creative Commons

Admitting to eating a bowl of cereal for dinner is like disclosing that you are lonely, lazy, or waaay to busy. Similarly, not having the whole family sitting around the table for a hot dinner of protein, a vegetable, and dessert feels like some kind of failure. When did how and what we eat become codified as right, proper, and essentially American?  How did factory work, television and advertising shape the varied diets carried by centuries of immigrants into the breakfast, lunch and dinner most of us eat today?

Abigail Carroll is a food historian and author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, which explores the history of America’s eating from the Colonial era to the present.

kevindean via Flickr Creative Commons

Jorja Leap is a small person with a long shadow on the streets of Los Angeles. She’s a professor of social welfare at UCLA, and an anthropologist who, for the past seven years has traced the kinship ties, rites, turf wars, and intervention programs operating in the bloodiest trenches of LA. Her book, “Jumped In” is part memoir and part ethnographic narrative of gang culture from a woman who’s earned street cred among gang members, respect from academics and props from law enforcement. We spoke to Jorja last year when the book was first released; it is now out in paperback.

This week marks the start of the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. This fifteen-day celebration is the longest and most important holiday in China, featuring family reunions, fireworks, traditional meals, red lanterns, and the traditional gift of the Hong Bao, or Red Packet.

It’s not often you get to hear authentic world music in New Hampshire, especially in the dead of winter. But on February 6th at the Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, the southern Italian band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino will be bringing their high energy pizzica tarantata music and dance.  Leading a new wave of young Italian artists reinventing and invigorating traditional Italian music, CGS includes six singers/musicians and a dancer.

I think it would be impossible not to have fun at a show like this:

Leo Greene

If you’ve spent any time in the town of Sandwich, New Hampshire, you may have picked up on its eclectic mix of preserved antiquity and progressiveness, with old clean-walled farmhouses occupied by inventors, artists, even a locally-grown internet service provider. Sandwich may be yesterday on the outside, but it’s tomorrow on the in.  As Sean Hurley reports, this dichotomy finds an unusual expression on the town soccer field a few days before the annual Sandwich Fair. And while many towns see carnies as an invading force, to residents of this town, they’re welcome competitors.

Today we sit down with iconic food writer and activist Frances Moore Lappé. In the 1970's, Lappé pioneered the idea of conscientious eating with her book “Diet for a Small Planet”. Now forty years later, she says much has changed. There's more awareness of the connections between food, health, and the environment, yet there's also growing world hunger requiring she says a complete global re-think.


Anjo Leee

Digital musicologists around the world are using computers to analyze music in ways humans can’t.  Turning beautiful melodies into cold hard numbers has given us insight into how music works, why we like it, and what it says about our culture as a whole.

Tibetan Monks Meet Shaker Tradition

May 18, 2012
Todd Bookman/NHPR

This weekend, the Canterbury Shaker Village opens its doors for the season.

It’s 600 acres of stillness, of restored buildings and manicured fields. But there’s one thing missing.

“Visitors come here expecting to see Shakers,” says Funi Burdick, Executive Director of the Village.

What decides the trajectory of our lives, our successes or failures, our steps and stumbles? Do we achieve what we achieve through force of will, or does fate have us by the throat? This hour, Radiolab explores the tug of war between will and fate from birth to death - from a kid reaching for a marshmallow to hints of dementia in the words of a 20-year-old.

For more information, visit

Episode 804: Cities

Apr 6, 2012

Over 50% of the planet now lives in cities. This hour, Radiolab looks at what makes them tick. We talk to a couple physicists who think they can fit every city into a tidy mathematical formula, and we take to the streets to test their idea. We explore the water tunnels 700 feet below Manhattan and question whether cities are the source of, or the solution for, our growing global appetite.

For more information, visit

Episode 803: Falling

Apr 5, 2012

There are so many ways to fall - falling in love, falling asleep, even falling flat on your face. In an episode full of falling music, Radiolab plunges into a black hole, takes a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and debunks some myths about falling cats.

For more information, visit

Pinterest is the new darling of the social media world. Users—over 10 million of them—‘pin’ digital images they like to their site, where others can browse and comment. Pinterest has run into recent issues surrounding potential copyright infringement, and now, a new problem has emerged: what should they do about a wave of pro-anorexia images and comments on the site?

Van Gogh to Go

Apr 5, 2012

We’ve all heard of a lending library, you go in, pick a book, give the librarian your library card and take it home to read, but what about an art lending library? A museum in Chicago is doing just that, they’re letting residents fill out an art library card and take home real, original works of art to hang in their home. And it’s free! It started just two weeks ago at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Heather Rabke is here to tell us how it’s going.

Photo by lindsey gee, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Every weekend my wife and I pack up our 10-month-old son Owen in his stroller and walk to town. We read books at the library, we buy bananas at the store, we stop in at the coffee shop for a diaper change and maybe a nap. If we were raising Owen in Buenos Aires instead of New Hampshire, we might be getting a late night dinner with friends instead of afternoon coffee – and if we lived in China, we wouldn’t be changing his diaper, because he probably wouldn’t be using one.

Crossing the BLVD

Jan 18, 2012
Photo by mgarbowski via Flickr Creative Commons

Archie Bunker wouldn’t recognize the Queens of today, where cultures normally  thousands of miles apart live on the same block, and 138 languages can come together in a classroom. On the streets of Queens, passers by might hear Albanian hip-hop wafting from a market stall, or a  gypsy punk riff sill out of a café.  The diverse colors, accents and clothing illustrate “globalization” and “multiculturalism” in a way that corporate strategists cannot. Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer are finely attuned to these sounds.