Monday, April 6, 2015: On April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King was killed, a teacher in Riceville, Iowa stepped into her classroom to teach her students a lesson of a lifetime. Jane Elliott conducted a bold experiment on her students, making them understand what discrimination feels like first hand. Some called her technique “evil” and “Orwellian” — said it abused the children’s’ trust. Others championed her as a brilliant educator on par with Plato and Aristotle. Almost all of the students involved in the experiment said it strengthened their character. Bob talks to Elliott about why, decades later, her exercise still matters. On his 78th birthday, Bob talks to country outlaw Merle Haggard about his five decades in the music business and how he hasn’t let himself become a prisoner of success. From doing a 180 on his most famous song, “Okie from Muskogee,” to walking out on Ed Sullivan, to admitting he dyes his hair and wears dentures, Haggard’s life is about refusing to submit.
Tuesday, April 7: Last year at this time, we aired our original documentary titled Dropping the Ball. We investigated the intersection of academics and for-profit athletics at schools like the University of North Carolina. Mary Willingham and Jay Smith were featured in the documentary and now they’re back with an update. He’s a UNC history professor and she’s a former learning specialist with the school’s athletic department who blew the whistle on an embarrassing academic scandal. They are the co-authors of the new book titled Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes and the Future of Big-Time College Sports. The 2015 baseball season is now underway. Bill Veeck was born into the sport. His sportswriter father became president of the Chicago Cubs, and Bill later worked for owner Phil Wrigley, rebuilding Wrigley Field to achieve the famed ambience that exists today. In his late twenties, he bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. He later bought the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and the Chicago White Sox. In 1947, Veeck signed Larry Doby, the American League’s first black player. A year later, he signed the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who helped win the 1948 World Series—Cleveland’s last championship to this day. Bob talks to Paul Dickson about his book Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Even when we ask a work colleague or a close friend for an honest opinion, we often aren’t ready to hear what they have to say. To teach us all to become better listeners, Bob talks with Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, the authors of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. It was recently published in paperback.
Thursday, April 9, 2015: Tigers are beautiful, powerful and revered by many animal lovers around the world, but they’re also endangered by illegal poaching and loss of habitat. Steve Winter has been taking photographs for National Geographic since 1991, and for his book titled Tigers Forever: Saving The World’s Most Endangered Big Cats. His stunning images are accompanied by the writing of Sharon Guynup, who illuminates the people and organizations fighting to defend this noble creature. Then Bob talks with journalist John Vaillant about his book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. It charts the 1997 battle between people in a small east Russian village and the Siberian tiger out to annihilate them. Combining the breathless adventure of their stand-off with the history of this region, Vaillant uses this little-known story to shed light on this super-predator.
Friday, April 10, 2015: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met as teenagers in Los Angeles in 1950, forming a songwriting team that churned out hits for early rhythm & blues artists—and later for Elvis Presley, The Drifters, The Coasters, Peggy Lee and many more. Their partnership even extends to a joint autobiography titled, Hound Dog. Leiber died in 2011 but Stoller recently celebrated his 82nd birthday.