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Friday
Apr242015

The Bob Edwards Show Schedule (April 27-May 1, 2015)

 

Monday, April 27, 2015: Writer Nick Hornby has made a career of writing about the aging issues facing many contemporary men, in his best-selling novels High Fidelity and About A Boy.  His latest book, Juliet, Naked, tells the story of a music fan named Duncan, who discovers an unplugged version of one of his favorite albums.  In his effort to connect with the record’s now-washed-up creator, Duncan discovers that his girlfriend already has found him, and formed an unlikely friendship with the musician.  What do British novelist Nick Hornby and American pop pianist Ben Folds have in common? The 2010 CD called Lonely Avenue, 11 songs featuring Hornby’s lyrics and Folds’ music and voice. They both join Bob at the piano in our performance studio to discuss how their long-distance mutual admiration turned into an album of playful yet often soul-stirring songs.  

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015:  Today is the 89th birthday of Harper Lee, author of the much-loved novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  In 1960, the book became an immediate bestseller and a classic of American literature. Lee is famously reclusive and hasn’t given an interview since 1965. Bob is still hoping to sit down with her one of these days, but until then, we bring back two conversations Bob had about Lee.  First, to mark the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication in 2010, writer and filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy compiled interviews with over two dozen contemporary writers, historians, journalists and artists for her book Scout, Atticus, & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. Then, Bob talks with Charles Shields who wrote a biography in 2006 titled Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Since she wasn’t available, Shields talked with roughly 600 people who knew her.

 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015: Even though he was a United States Congressman for two terms, Ben Jones is known first and foremost as “Crazy Cooter” for his role on The Dukes of Hazzard.  Jones’ road to the halls of Congress was an unlikely one – starting in a shack with no electricity or plumbing. Jones tells his story in his memoir Redneck Boy in the Promised Land.  Joe Nick Patoski has spent nearly his entire career covering the Red Headed Stranger and getting some really good stories along the way.  He assembled them for his 2008 biography titled Willie Nelson: An Epic Life.  Today, Patoski shares a few of those stories with Bob on the occasion of Willie Nelson’s 82nd birthday.

 

Thursday, April 30, 2015: On this date 40 years ago, Saigon fell to North Vietnam, effectively ending US involvement in the Vietnam War.  Like many young men of his generation, Tim O’Brien was drafted. He spent two years as an infantry foot soldier in My Lai, Vietnam.  Drawing from those experiences, O’Brien wrote a collection of stories he titled The Things They Carried.  It’s still regarded as a masterwork of war time impressions.  Then, journalist and historian Nick Turse spent 10 years researching Pentagon archives and interviewing Vietnam War veterans and survivors for his book titled Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

 

Friday, May 1, 2015: On May 4, 1970, a student protest against the Vietnam War on the Kent State campus ended in tragedy when members of the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four and wounded nine Kent State students.  Dr. Jerry M. Lewis witnessed the campus shootings and has been involved in researching and memorializing the fatal incident.  Dr. Patrick Coy is director of Kent State’s Center for Applied Conflict Management which was founded as a result of the shootings.  The two will discuss the 45th anniversary of the historical events and the role of student activism in American culture. May 1st is a little-known federal holiday, Loyalty Day. Made official in 1958, the original purpose was for Americans to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States. But loyalty oaths have a problematic history in this country, starting with the Revolutionary War. George Washington was for them, so was Joe McCarthy who believed you were not patriotic enough unless you took one. Loyalty is a tricky virtue, the foundation for love and family, but also the cause of much misery and betrayal, especially when loyalties collide. Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Felten offers a meditation on the subject in his book, Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue.  Today is also the 76th birthday of Judy Collins who has been performing songs for decades that she hopes “help people heal.” She talks with Bob about the 2008 CD called Born to the Breed - A Tribute to Judy Collins. The album includes Collins covers from Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Jimmy Webb, Shawn Colvin and Dolly Parton.

Friday
Apr242015

Bob Edwards Weekend (April 25-26, 2015)

HOUR ONE:

We’ll mark the fifth anniversary of the BP oil spill with our own original reporting from southern Louisiana in the wake of the accident. On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and the crippled well began leaking the first of an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months. We’ll hear from journalists, biologists, hunters, shrimpers, fishermen and other local experts about how their region was affected by the twin calamities of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and by the oil spill in 2010.                               

 

HOUR TWO:

Ninety-percent of the developing world’s sewage is dumped - untreated - into oceans, rivers and lakes. Almost half of the world’s population has no access to a toilet. Inadequate sanitation kills more people in developing nations than AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria and dirty water remains the world’s number one health risk. In her book, The Big Necessity, journalist Rose George argues that the way a society disposes of its sewage tells you a lot about its economy, politics and religion.

Actress and comedian Carol Burnett hosted her own network comedy program for 11 years. The Carol Burnett Show won an astounding 25 Emmy Awards along the way.  Her book This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection recounts some of Burnett’s most memorable stories and beloved roles over her 60-year career. Burnett shares some of those stories with Bob as she turns 82 this weekend.

Friday
Apr242015

No Place Like Home - Part Two

NOTE: This blog entry originally appeared in Augist 2010
by Chad Campbell, senior producer


Bob and Mike Voisin touring Motivatit Seafoods

Last week was an academic overview of our series. This week we get to hear from some true locals, like duck hunter John Serigny in Larose and shrimper Charlie Robin in Yscloskey, but we begin with Mike Voisin, the CEO of Motivatit Seafoods in Houma, Louisiana. (sadly, he died in 2013 of a heart attack at the age of 59) His family has been here - and in the seafood business - since 1770, but Voisin spent his formative years in southern California so he doesn’t have that “down the bayou” accent. He’s personally been in the oyster business since 1971 when his father Ernest founded Motivatit (pronounced “motivated”) which currently employs about 75 people, including Mike’s sons, a daughter and a nephew - the eighth generation of Voisins in the seafood business. Their trademark product is identified by a gold band shrink-wrapped around a perfectly shucked oyster. You can learn more about Motivatit’s products and high pressure processing at www.theperfectoyster.com. After our interview, Voisin walked us through the plant to get an idea of what goes on there - grading, shucking, washing and freezing oysters. Here’s a video of a portion of our tour.

shrimp boat captain Charlie Robin in the shade with Geoffrey and BobOur next stop was Yscloskey, Louisiana to speak with shrimper Charlie Robin. Along with 90-percent of the fleet, he gave up his all-important brown shrimp season to help BP skim and collect the oil threatening his fishing waters. Robin is a fifth-generation shrimper born and raised here. When we talked to him on July 4th, they had just discovered the first tar balls in Lake Borgne, but that day’s wind and 2-foot chop made it impossible to collect the oil. Robin was very pessimistic about this season and even next year’s shrimping season. He and many like him had just started to get back on their feet after Hurricane Katrina, then Deepwater Horizon exploded and forced him to take the shrimp nets off his boat and install bright yellow and red oil boom instead. It is worth noting that when we were in southern Louisiana conducting our interviews, the BP well was still spewing oil from the bottom of the Gulf with no end in sight.

Charlie Robin’s shrimping boat, the Ellie Margaret

We conclude the hour sitting around a kitchen table talking about disappearing wetlands and ducks with John Serigny in Larose, Louisiana. He’s a retired public school teacher who taught for 32 years at the local junior high school and he loves to hunt for ducks down at his camp near Grand Isle. He was also very pessimistic about the oily landscape the migrating ducks might find around the marshes this fall and winter. Serigny has been hunting at his family’s camp since he was a sophomore in high school and says a lot of wetlands have become open water since 1964. Serigny has kept detailed records and log books at the camp going back several decades and says they’d often kill 300 ducks a season in the mid 1970s. These days one duck qualifies as a very successful day. Here’s a video of John Serigny demonstrating a duck call for us. 

 

John Serigny’s camp before Hurricane Katrina……and after Hurricane Katrina

Click here to see more pictures from our latest trip to southern Louisiana

Next week we’ll talk with biologists intent on saving the wildlife. First we drive as far down the Mississippi River as our rental car can take us to chat with Emily Guidry Schatzel at the Venice Marina. Then we sit down with wildlife biologists Todd Baker and Sharon Taylor at BP’s heavily secured facility outside of Houma. Then a tour of the Bird Rehabilitation Center in Ft. Jackson where we see an oiled bird being cleaned and meet dozens of juvenile pelicans waiting to be relocated.

a formerly oiled pelican, stretching his wings

And please enjoy this bonus movie of Bob, Geoffrey and me killing time before our interview with Mike Voisin. It’s at a park along a canal, between two elevated highways in Houma, Louisiana. I am by no means an expert, but I would estimate that this prehistoric killing machine measured about 4 feet from nose to tail.

 

And here’s a map showing the locations where we conducted our interviews and other points of interest… including our gator sighting.


View BES in New Orleans (7/2010) in a larger map

Thursday
Apr232015

Denise Reed and Tab Benoit, voices of the Wetlands

NOTE: This blog entry originally appeared in August 2010
by Chad Campbell, senior producer
Dr. Denise Reed was a bonus interview, one we had not planned on - or planned for. She was recommended by Ron Biava at WWNO, the public radio station in New Orleans as an expert on the wetlands. Reed is a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Orleans but she lives a full 70 miles south of the city near Montegut, Louisiana. She prefers to be closer to the swamps and marshes and she’s been living and working down in Terrebonne Parish since 1986. Like Houma’s Mike Voisin, she also lacks that “down the bayou” accent, but Denise Reed’s excuse is that she was born and raised in Luton, England where she studied the Thames estuary then came to the US for a job during Britain’s “Thatcher Years.” She’s an expert on marsh hydrology, sediment dynamics, the geomorphology of wetlands, their formation and degradation.
 
Here’s a sample of the interview overlooking Reed’s backyard.
 

by Bob Edwards

Tab Benoit at the wheel of his boat in a healthy swampYou have to like a man who moves to a bayou backbeat. Cajun blues musician Tab Benoit (pronounced ben-wah) was first on our show four years ago promoting his cd Brother to the Blues. The music business being what it is now, Benoit has to do a lot of touring just to break even. All that time on the road takes him away from where he’d like to be—-at home with a fishing pole in one of the swamps around Houma, Louisiana. Search his name on the web and you’ll see two of his featured songs are Voodoo on the Bayou and Down in the Swamp. Benoit loves the wetlands of coastal Louisiana and wants all of us to know that the preservation of marshes is crucial to the survival of New Orleans and all the other communities in the region. He is co-founder and president of the environmental group Voice of the Wetlands and the frontman for the band called the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars which performs in New Orleans on Wednesday, August 25.

Producers Chad Campbell and Geoffrey Redick were with me as we pulled into the Falgout Marina on Bayou du Large, about 15 miles from Tab Benoit’s home in Houma. Benoit met us there with his boat—-a very fast boat, and he took us for a ride down the bayou and across Lake De Cade at 70 miles an hour—dodging natural gas wells poking up from the water and passing a huge parking lot of idle oil drilling platforms. There was a song in my head—-not Benoit’s blues, but rather Jerry Reed’s old novelty song about an alligator poacher named Amos Moses. It has a line that goes, “About 45 minutes southeast of Tippitoe, Loosiana.”  Benoit told me that we just happened to be “about 45 miles southeast of Thibodeaux, Louisiana.” I saw no alligators or deadly snakes on the bayou, but I could feel their eyes watching me and waiting for me to fall out of the boat.

Our destination was a swamp. Benoit wanted us to see a healthy one—the kind of wetlands that protect cities like New Orleans, Houma, Thibodeaux, Lafayette and Morgan City from the worst effects of a hurricane. He took a sharp right turn into a lovely little spot and he cut the engine. We were surrounded by towering cypress trees and lush green grass rising several feet above the water’s surface.   We were in the company or terns and egrets blessedly free of BP oil. Colorful dragonflies performed aerial ballet, sometimes skimming across the water and landing on us. Fish were jumping all around us and I expected one to flop right into our boat any second. Except for a chorus of screeching cicadas, there was peace. It was the perfect place to talk about the importance of wetlands.

healthy swamp and marsh southwest of Houma, LA

On the way to our next stop, it started to rain, so we returned to the marina for lunch. I had the most delicious cheeseburger I’ve ever tasted, which probably had more to do with the atmosphere than the quality of the beef. Maybe I was just hungry. It was still drizzling when we returned to the boat, but our host welcomed the rain as a source of fresh water. Benoit didn’t have to go very far to show us what he felt we should see. A dead swamp. A former swamp. No grasses, no terns, no egrets, no cicadas. Just dead wooden poles that had once been cypress trees. Wetlands die when the fresh water is overtaken by salt water. This one was connected to the Houma Navigation Canal but for many decades, energy companies have criss-crossed coastal Louisiana with canals as paths to drilling sites. The canals cut through the marshes and allow salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to win the war against the flow of fresh water and re-take the swamps. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana loses 75 square kilometers of wetlands each year.

A former cypress swamp killed by salt water intrusion. This site is about 7 miles east of the healthy swamp.

Tab Benoit is as passionate as he can be when talking about the value of wetlands, but he is not anti-oil. Like everyone we interviewed in Louisiana, Benoit believes the oil and natural gas industries are just too important to the Louisiana economy for the state to send energy companies packing. And most of our guests with deep roots in the region either have family members who worked for oil companies or used to themselves. Benoit used to fly pipeline patrols as a younger man. From that bird’s eye perspective, he could see all the damage that was happening. Louisiana made its deal with the devil long ago and is paying for it by watching the state literally shrink. This time next year, there will be less of Louisiana than there is today. It’s enough to give Tab Benoit the blues.

He’s also passionate about his boat. Here are a few videos of the man and his machine in action.

Click here to see more of our videos.

Geoffrey’s hair feeling the power of Tab Benoit’s 300hp engine. It sent us skimming over the surface of Lake De Cade at 70 mph

Click here to see more pictures from our trip to southern Louisiana.

Next week in part five of our series No Place Like Home, we mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the deadly and destructive flooding of the New Orleans area. Bob gets a driving tour of the damage with former mayor Maurice “Moon” Landrieu and his daughter Madeleiene. Then Bob talks with Tulane University history professor and with recent graduate Kerry Mitchell Kraft about the past, present and future of New Orleans.

You can also listen to past episodes in the series:

PART ONE (reporter Mark Schleifstein and environmental sociologist Shirley Laska.)

PART TWO (oysterman Mike Voisin, shrimper Charlie Robin and duck hunter John Serigny.)

PART THREE (wildlife biologists Emily Guidry Schatzel, Todd Baker and Sharon Taylor; workers at the bird rehabilitation center in Ft. Jackson, LA.)

And here’s a map of the locations of our interviews and other points of interest.


View BES in New Orleans (7/2010) in a larger map

Thursday
Apr232015

No Place Like Home - Part One

NOTE: This blog originally appeared in August of 2010

by producers Geoffrey Redick and Chad Campbell

BP has begun pumping mud and cement into its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico. Hopefully, in a few days, the well will be sealed forever. But even if the flow is snuffed out, the environmental and economic effects of the spill are still being calculated. Crews are trying to measure how much oil has washed ashore on beaches and wetlands, tallying costs to present to BP for reimbursement. Of course, that’s only the oil we can see. No one knows how much might be under the surface, dispersed in small globs throughout the gulf. 

Those are the news pegs right now, and the tendency of the media is to move on to the next big event, now that this one is winding down. But we’re going to linger for a few weeks, delving into the innerworkings of a society that has been repeatedly pushed to the breaking point in the past five years. Four months ago, people in southern Louisiana were thinking about blighted neighborhoods and hurricane forecasts. Those issues still exist, but now there’s a whole pile of unanswerable questions about oil contamination.

Geoffrey and Times Picayune reporter Mark SchleifsteinWe’re beginning our series No Place Like Home with a reporter and a professor. Mark Schleifstein covers the environment for the Times Picayune in New Orleans. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting during and after Hurricane Katrina. He also co-authored a 2002 series of articles for the paper called “Washing Away: How South Louisiana is Growing More Vulnerable to a Catastrophic Hurricane.” You can click here to read that series. Schleifstein is also the co-author of the 2006 book Path of Destruction. After Katrina, his house was flooded with 12 feet of water.

Shirley Laska shows Geoffrey and Bob a flood chartShirley Laska is a sociology professor at the University of New Orleans, where she founded and directs CHART, the Center for Hazards, Assessment, Response and Technology. In 2005, before Katrina hit, Laska predicted in a scholarly paper and in Congressional testimony much of the damage and flooding caused by the storm. Laska also co-authored a book last year called “Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow.”

 

These two guests provide the big picture, weaving the story of post-Katrina reconstruction into wetlands recovery, which is now hampered by millions of gallons of oil. They talk about the causes and effects of these man-made disasters, and if anything can be done to avoid similar events in the future. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear from people in the field — wildlife researchers, fishermen, frustrated residents, entreprenuers, public health advocates, and urban gardeners. We hope that taking the time to tell this story — spending hours with people in the midst of their lives, instead of a few sound bites from a typical news story — will provide a more complete picture of southern Louisiana.

Click here to see more pictures from our latest trip to southern Louisiana

And finally, a word about the title of our series, which might conjure up thoughts of a certain Kansas farm girl. During our two trips to New Orleans and southern Louisiana, everyone we talked with — natives and transplants alike — displayed a deep and almost viseral love for the region. Louisiana is home for these folks, and they’re not giving up on it without a fight.

Next week we’ll cover how hurricanes and the oil spill have affected the culture and business of seafood. We’ll tour the Houma processing plant of Motivatit Seafoods and talk with Mike Voisin about the oyster harvest. We visit with fifth generation shrimper Charlie Robin in Yscloskey who replaced his shrimp nets with oil boom in an effort to save his future. And we’ll discuss duck hunting and conservation with John Serigny in Larose. 

Here’s a map showing the locations where we conducted our interviews and other points of interest.


View BES in New Orleans (7/2010) in a larger map