Exercise your ears: the 53 podcasts shown below present the best ideas, information and stories from a larger group of 752 for the week, to hear while your hands and eyes are busy. Get all the files as a group here, or double (ctrl-click) individual titles to get single podcasts and explore the source. A collection of 29,300 podcasts, listed alphabetically and grouped by topic, can be downloaded piecemeal, with files A-E at this link, and the remainder here. You’ll be limited to a 4GB maximum per download at the last place, so multiple group downloads will be needed to get all files, totaling over 170GB and may take a few hours. The first entry in the collection is a text file with just titles for quicker reference. A collection of abstracts for all the podcasts is available at this link and updated quarterly. Get the discarded material, too, using a podcast aggregator loaded with this opml file of the 503 sources. And try PodcastRE from the University of Wisconsin with over 150,000 titles. Exercise your ears and relax the rest.
Africa and East Germany 35 mins – “How Communist East Germany tried to influence Africa via radio, during the Cold War. The West often saw the GDR as a grim and grey place, so it’s something of a surprise to find a radio station based in East Berlin playing swinging African tunes. Yet Radio Berlin International (RBI), the ‘voice of the German Democratic Republic’, made it all happen over the many years it broadcast to Africa. It built on the little known strong bonds between East Germany and several large states in Africa such as Tanzania and Angola during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Dr Emily Oliver, a historian of postwar Germany from Warwick University, finds out why multicultural Radio Berlin International was a special place within East Germany and what happened behind the scenes. The government set tight reporting restrictions on output. Staff faced the dilemma of following the rules while competing with the likes of the BBC World Service. They were also conscious of the output of the station’s main direct rival, West Germany’s Deutsche Welle, which portrayed the world quite differently. And how did RBI employees coming from nations like Tanzania cope with working for the oppressive East German regime? Emily hears how RBI appealed to listeners in Africa, reveals how East Germans and Angolans made friends over coffee and tractors, and discovers how the Cold War played out in Africa at a time when many African states were fighting for independence.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Airplane Fume Event 19 mins – “How safe is the air inside airline cabins? In January 2020, a British Airways flight from Athens to London issued a mayday emergency call when the pilot flying the plane became incapacitated during a “fume event”. The airline industry does not reveal how often fume events happen, but according to some estimates they occur every day. Pilots and cabin crew say that sudden fume events and long term low level exposure to toxic cabin air are making them seriously ill and in some cases causing premature deaths. The industry insists that serious leaks of toxic gas into cockpits and cabins are relatively very rare, given the number of flights each day. And that no causal link between toxic cabin air and health problems has yet been proven. But airlines face multiple court cases later this year. For Assignment, Mike Powell talks to a representative of the airline industry about fume events, lack of transparency and claims that the health of hundreds of pilots, cabin crew and frequent fliers is being put at risk. Presenter: Mike Powell Producer: Paul Waters” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Ambassador Yovanovitch 105 mins – “Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee as a part of the impeachment investigation. Yovanovitch answered questions about her career, her experience in Ukraine and her abrupt dismissal. The hearing saw some of the same grandstanding and distractions as the first public hearing, But we cut out all the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.” At the link right-click the down-pointing arrow, then select “Save File,” and right-click “OK”.
Apartheid Policy Opponent 19 mins – “On 27 September 1969, Imam Abdullah Haron – an outspoken Muslim cleric in South Africa – died in police detention. Abdullah Haron was the only Muslim cleric in Cape Town who used his sermons to speak out against apartheid policies and laws. His family do not accept the official conclusion that he fell down the stairs. And, to mark 50 years of his death, they want the government to commission a new inquest, which they say will uncover torture and murder. At the centre of the family’s renewed push for justice will be a series of artworks by visual artist Haroon Gunn-Salie.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Argentina Killers 32 mins – “’Did you actually kill hundreds of people, Dad?’ This is certainly not a question that many people feel the need to ask their parents. But for a group of young women in Argentina, it was one they could no longer ignore. Their fathers have been accused, held under trial and in some cases sentenced for some of the worst crimes in Argentina’s history – all members of the military and police forces during the country’s last military regime, that kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of people over a period of seven years. Forty years later, these women have come together and decided to speak up against their fathers. The BBC’s Valeria Perasso followed them on their journey to become a voice in the ongoing public conversation about human rights to help heal the country – and themselves.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Ayahuasca 18 mins – “Psychedelic plants, the spiritual tourism backlash – and sexual abuse. Increasing numbers of tourists are travelling to the Peruvian Amazon to drink ayahuasca, a traditional plant medicine said to bring about a higher state of consciousness. Foreigners come looking for spiritual enlightenment or help with mental health problems like trauma, depression, and addiction. But not everyone is happy about Peru’s booming ayahuasca tourism industry. A group of indigenous healers are fighting back against what they see as the exploitation and appropriation of their cultural heritage by foreigners – who run most of the ayahuasca retreats popular with tourists. This coming together of cultures has thrown up another serious problem too: vulnerable women being sexually abused while under the influence of charismatic healers and this powerful psychedelic.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Black in Italy 18 mins – “Dickens Olewe meets Italy’s first and only black senator, Tony Iwobi, and hears how a new generation of black Italians are fighting to claim their place in a society that’s still very white. Born and raised in Nigeria, Senator Iwobi moved to Italy as a young man and carved out a successful career in business. Now he’s immigration spokesperson for the right-wing Lega party and wants to stop the illegal flow of migrants coming to Italy from Africa. BBC Africa journalist Dickens Olewe follows Iwobi in the Senate in Rome and finds out what it’s like to be black in a party that’s widely perceived as racist. At a festival on the bank of the River Tiber, Dickens meets aspiring politician Paolo Diop from the Far-Right Brothers of Italy. Diop moved to Italy from Senegal as a baby and describes himself as “an Italian nationalist and an African nationalist” who wants to “make Africa great” by sending migrants home. We also meet the young black activists coming of age in the midst of the migrant crisis and the rise of the political right. Born and bred in Italy, they feel deeply Italian but are not always recognised as such – among them the rapper Tommy Kuti whose work explores his Afro-Italian identity, the founder of Milan’s Afro Fashion Week Michelle Francine Ngonmo and the writer Igiaba Scego, whose parents grew up in one of Italy’s African colonies.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
British Government Communications Headquarters 19 mins – “The work of GCHQ started just after the end of World War One as telegraph became a vital means of military communications. We hear from people who worked at the listening station in the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough during World War Two and the Cold War. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera reveals how Government Communications Headquarters – GCHQ – has been listening in for 100 years. And Gordon reveals the vital role played by the Scarborough station during the Cuban Missile Crisis.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Buddhist versus Muslims 18 mins – “There’s a new climate of fear in Sri Lanka. This time it’s the Muslim community who are fearful of the future. The Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka – targeting churches and international hotels – horrified the island. It’s suffered civil war – between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils – but never known jihadi violence. But the attacks also intensified a creeping campaign by the Sinhala Buddhist majority against the Muslim community – with Muslims murdered, their businesses burned or boycotted. Jill McGivering investigates the growing climate of fear now driving many Muslims to emigrate and casting a shadow over those left behind. Caroline Finnigan producing.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Cameroon’s MMA Champion 19 mins – “By the age of 10 Francis Ngannou was working in a sand quarry, where he dreamed of becoming a world class boxer. As a young man he traversed the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea to find himself homeless in Paris. From there, within an extraordinarily short amount of time, he exploded through the ranks to the highest echelons of the fastest growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts. He is now a leading contender for heavyweight champion of the world and a global star. He returns to his village in western Cameroon, where he is investing in the next generation. Zak Brophy travels to Cameroon to hear the story of his incredible life, and his dreams of becoming a role model within his community.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Carnegie Billionaire 19 mins – “What should billionaires do with their money? The world’s greatest philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie said they should give it all away. Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland and moved to America where he became a steel magnate and the richest man in the world. In his guidebook to philanthropy, The Gospel of Wealth, he challenged people who acquired great wealth to give it back to the community. He also believed the most important cause to support was education. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown asks why today’s billionaire philanthropists aren’t giving away more money and why education is no longer the top priority.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Chernobyl Zone 18 mins – “Ninety year old Galina is one of the last witnesses to the wild natural world that preceded the Chernobyl zone in southern Belarus. ‘We lived with wolves’ she says ‘and moose, and elk and wild boars.’ Soviet development destroyed that ecosystem. Forests and marshland were tamed and laid to farmland and industrial use. But when the Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986, the human population was evacuated; their villages were buried beneath the earth as though they had never existed. A generation on, it seems that the animals Galina knew are returning. But how are they are affected by their radioactive environment? And what can we infer about the state of the land? Monica Whitlock visits the strange new wilderness emerging in the heart of Europe.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Child Brides 34 mins – “A tense debate is taking place in states across America. At what age should someone be allowed to marry? Currently in 48 out of 50 states a child can marry, usually with parental consent or a judge’s discretion. In 17 states there is no minimum age, meaning in theory, a two year old could marry. But there is a campaign to change the law and raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions across all American states.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Chinese Seaside City 19 mins – “In the span of five years, Chairman Huang turned farmland in China’s Sichuan province into Seaside City. The ocean-themed town, which Huang says was inspired by Dubai and Disneyland, is now home to more than 400,000 people. In the city centre, numerous maritime spectacles attract visitors from afar. The crown jewel is the world’s largest aquarium with several whale sharks and a community of sea turtles. But is Seaside City a forward-thinking economic experiment or the personal fiefdom of a megalomaniac? What do former peasants in the area think of the city?” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Conspiracy Theory 13 mins – “We’ve all been there – that awkward situation that happens over the dinner table or at a party, when someone starts talking about conspiracy theories. With the coronavirus pandemic has come a huge wave of novel online misinformation – including some outlandish ideas and panicky people who are buying into them. So what do you do when confronted with someone who starts spouting obvious falsehoods about “evil plots” and “deadly vaccines”? Trending brings together a man who’s been drawn towards social media’s fringes and an expert who studies the psychology of people who believe in conspiracy theories. What happened when they sat down for a socially distanced chat? Plus we give some tips on how to talk to people who are edging towards the rabbit hole.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Deep Fakes 16 mins – “Recently an app called Zao zoomed up the charts in China. It uses artificial intelligence to allow people to upload themselves into famous movies. One viral clip showed a young Chinese man being transformed into Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Titanic. Although for most people it was harmless fun, the rise of Zao prompted more worrying headlines about “deepfake” technology. The concerns are not that it could be used to make fake movie clips, but instead to make fake news – for instance, viral videos of politicians appearing to utter things they never actually said. While the technology behind deepfakes has been in development for a while, it’s only in the last few years that it has become good enough to trick people on a wide scale, using the power of social media. Some experts say that in that in a year it may be tough to tell which videos on our timelines are real and which ones are fake. We go deep into the world of deepfakes, meet some of the people who are trying to develop methods to detect them and find out just how easy it is to make a deepfake from scratch. ” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Digital Politics 19 mins – “In the UK’s 2019 general election, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are playing a more prominent role than in any previous campaign. As the election enters its final stages, political scientist Travis Ridout, co-director of the highly respected Wesleyan Media Project – travels to the UK to immerses himself in current online activity. He finds out what strategies and techniques are being used to influence – or manipulate voters – and considers what lessons from the USA could be influencing the campaign. He reports from the digital front line in a key marginal constituency to find out how digital campaigning is being used to target undecided voters.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Disagreements 19 mins – “Why do we hold our opponents in contempt? Former politician Douglas Alexander believes that disagreement is good, it’s how the best arguments get refined. But, today, public discourse has become so ill-tempered, snide and lacking in respect that we are no longer engaged in a battle of ideas but a slanging match. He talks to people with personal tales about how we might all raise our game and disagree better, among them a relationship counsellor, an ex-soldier, a peace broker and a foster mother. Their tips? Civility is not enough. And knowledge is essential, as well as radical honesty, fierce intimacy and openness. So, dial down the rhetoric, rein in the insults – they will persuade no-one that your opinion is worth listening to – and pay attention.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Drug Runners in UK 19 mins – “New figures released in the UK have revealed at least 4,000 young people are currently caught up in what are known as “county lines” – meeting orders for heroin and cocaine via mobile phone “deal lines”. They are transporting drugs from cities to rural and coastal towns, and carrying weapons too – knives, hammers and acid. Many find themselves selling drugs in a strange town, trapped, too scared to leave. Increasingly, when police raid the “traphouses” where the drugs are held, they are finding girls. For Assignment, Jane Deith hears the stories of young women caught in a world of sexual violence and drug running.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Finland’s Carbon Neutral 18 mins – “How do you achieve net-zero carbon emissions in just fifteen years? In Finland, a fisherman-turned-climate scientist believes he has part of the answer: re-wilding the country’s peat fields. Gabriel Gatehouse travels to the country’s frozen north to meet Tero Mustonen, as he battles lobbyists and vested interests in government and the peat industry, in a race to mitigate the consequences of climate change.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Finlands Green Trailblazer..19 mins – “The town of Ii in northern Finland is a green trailblazer. It has managed to stop burning fossil fuels and will have reduced carbon emissions by 80% by 2020; that is 30 years ahead of the EU target. It is also aiming to be the world’s first zero-waste town. It is happening because of the collective effort of the community. Erika Benke discovers how everyone is involved; from local businessmen to the mayor and from schoolchildren to their parents and grandparents.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Going Back to Sierra Leone 18 mins – “Fatmata, Jamilatu and Alimamy all see themselves as failures. They’re young Sierra Leoneans who risked everything for the sake of a better life in Europe. Along the way, they were imprisoned and enslaved. They saw friends die. Eventually, they gave up. Now, they’re home again – facing the devastating consequences of what they did to their families before they left, actions that have left them ostracised by their nearest and dearest. Who will help them to survive back home? Can they rebuild their lives, and achieve any reconciliation with their parents? And if they can’t, will they be tempted to set off again, to seek their fortunes abroad?” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Greenland Music 34 mins – “Kate Molleson visits the world’s largest island to explore the role of traditional and new music for its communities today. Between the capital of Nuuk and smaller fishing town of Maniitsoq, Kate encounters drum dancers resurrecting a traditional Inuit practice which almost died out on Greenland’s west coast, discovers the political and sonic influence of the Greenlandic language on music from hymn singing to hip-hop, meets artists using their lyrics to engage with issues from the climate to the country’s deep-rooted social problems, and visits a music school offering a safe space to young people.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Iceland’s Thaw 22 mins – “Iceland’s glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate, with scientists predicting that they could all be gone 200 years from now. How is this affecting the lives of local people, and the identity of a nation that has ice in its name? Maria Margaronis talks to Icelandic farmers and fishermen, scientists and environmental activists about their (sometimes surprising) responses to climate change, and asks why it’s so difficult even for those who see its effects from their windows every day to take in what it means.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Iraq’s Secret Sex Trade 18 mins – “Muslim men and women are forbidden to sleep together outside marriage, but in Iraq, it’s possible for men to find a way round this obstacle to sexual freedom through a deeply controversial custom. So-called ‘pleasure marriages’ allow time-limited wedlock, sometimes for as little as half an hour, and with no commitment whatsoever. The practice is illegal, though some Shi’a clerics nevertheless claim it is permitted under Sharia, and offer to oversee pleasure marriages in return for payment. As Nawal al-Maghafi of BBC Arabic discovers in this disturbing story, the clerics’ lucrative business comes at enormous personal cost to many women, who are often tricked and coerced into marrying, only to be dumped shortly afterwards. Worse, their life-chances and even their lives are put at risk, because virginity is a prerequisite for proper marriage. Using undercover reporting and secret recording, the programme also finds clerics willing to supply women for sex, and even to officiate for men who want to have sex with children.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Jewish Rescues WWII 34 mins – “In the heart of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, members of the Resistance worked tirelessly and at great risk to themselves to help those whose lives were threatened. Amongst them was Elisabeth Charlotte Gloeden – known as Liselotte or “Lilo” – who, along with her husband Erich, hid Jews in their home in Berlin, before arranging safe passage for them out of Germany. The couple’s efforts went undetected until 1944 when they took in General Fritz Lindemann, who was being hunted by the Gestapo for being part of the plot to assassinate Hitler.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono 22 mins – “John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace protest and the people who witnessed it ” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Lebanon’s Electricity Shortage 19 mins – “Life in Lebanon is a daily battle to beat the power cuts caused by the country’s chronic electricity shortage. If you live in a block of flats, you have to time when you go in and out to avoid getting trapped in the lift. Food goes bad because fridges don’t work, families must often choose between air-conditioning and watching TV, and those on life-support machines live in constant fear of a switch-off. But if it’s hell for citizens, it’s heaven for operators of illegal private generators who profit by filling the gap left by the failures of the national grid. Some are former warlords who led militias in Lebanon’s civil war. They’re given an unofficial licence to operate, often in return for favours to the authorities in Lebanon’s chaotic and often corrupt sectarian system. Now a huge protest movement is demanding change in Lebanon – and a constant power supply is one of the demonstrators’ main demands. They want to break the power of the “fuel mafia” that imports diesel for the generators and has close links to the country’s leading politicians. For them, the fight for light is a fight against corruption. But can Lebanon’s feeble state ever manage to turn all the lights on?” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
LGBT Changes 20 mins – “Detransitioners are people who once identified as trans, but have returned to the gender they were assigned at birth. Some may also re-identify as non-binary or gender-fluid. There are no figures revealing how many people reverse or change their gender journeys – we only know that more people are telling their stories. Brian Belovitch was born a boy, and then transitioned and lived for more than a decade as Natalia – a performer, club hostess and glamorous party animal. Then at a crisis point in his life he made a momentous decision – to live again as Brian. These are not easy choices. Daniel was brought up male, then had gender reassignment surgery and became Danielle. Now he has detransitioned, married a woman, and is awaiting a complex operation to reconstruct his male genitalia.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Lithium in Argentina 19 mins – “Are lithium-powered electric vehicles as ‘green’ as we think they are? With the advent of electric cars, manufacturers tell us we’re racing towards a clean-energy future. It’s lithium that powers these vehicles. Most of the world’s stocks of this lightest of metals are found in brine deep beneath salt flats, high in the Andes.In Argentina, in Jujuy – the province with the highest percentage of indigenous households in the country – massive projects are underway. But in a super-dry region, with water the most precious resource, and lithium extraction demanding huge quantities of it, there’s anxiety – and outright opposition.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Mafia 19 mins – “Across Italy hundreds of mafia leaders, hitmen and drug-traffickers are being jailed thanks to the most powerful weapon now in the hands of Italy’s anti-mafia investigators: the words of one clan against another. Italy’s state collaborator scheme has seen mafia chiefs breaking the code of silence – in return for a lifetime in witness protection, rather than a life behind bars. For Assignment, Dominic Casciani gets exclusive access to an anti-mafia prison to meet one of Naples’ most important “Penitents” – a boss and killer whose evidence has jailed his associates. In the city itself, he witnesses, alongside hardened investigators, the ongoing nightly battle against the Camorra – and also hears voices of hope across the city that the tide has finally turned.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Malwai Tapes 34 mins – “A race is on to save thousands of tapes of traditional Malawian music in danger of disintegrating in the archives of state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. The old reel-to-reel tapes date back to the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s and were recorded in towns and villages all over Malawi and in the MBC studios. The folk songs, traditional chants, dances and contemporary music of the time all provide a snapshot of Malawi’s social and musical history.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Music Inequalities 18 mins – “This week, Beyonce writer and pop star Raye is back in the presenter’s chair with a new round of musicians. This time she is joined by: the winner of the 2012 MOBO UnSung regional competition in Birmingham and ‘Unknown (To You)’ singer Jacob Banks; producer, radio host, and DJ on the up Melle Brown who’s also signed to Jamz Supernova’s label; and Californian poet and spoken word artist Tenesha the Wordsmith. Led by Raye they’ll be discussing how their careers affect the people around them, how women treat other women in music, and inequalities and race in the industry.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save File” and “OK” from the pop-up menu.
Music Soundtracks 23 mins – “A huge episode of Music Life this week sees one of the most versatile composers working today, Max Richter (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, Ad Astra, Mary Queen of Scots), ask renowned creators of music for film, TV and the stage how they got their starts in the music business, their creative processes, how they convey emotion through their work, and how it’s actually quite difficult to create something simple. Among those answering these questions is a man who really needs no introduction, Hans Zimmer. He’s scored over 100 films so far, putting his signature sound on everything from James Bond to the Dark Knight Trilogy via Thelma & Louise. There isn’t a film that isn’t vastly improved with Hans’ work behind it. Also with Max is Icelandic composer, cellist and vocalist Hildur Guðnadóttir. She won the Academy Award for best score for the controversial film Joker, and you can also hear her music-less score in the haunting TV series Chernobyl. Puerto Rican composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón completes the line up; she writes music for chamber ensembles, orchestras, film, theatre, robotic instruments, and even toys. This is a meeting of minds that’s not to be missed.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Music Therapy 17 mins – “Young country stars Kane Brown, Holly Macve and Olivia Lane discuss writing songs as therapy, recurring themes, and being put in a difficult position by their lyrics. Kane Brown is a superstar in the making from Tennessee, and has been called the ‘Justin Bieber of country’. He has worked with the likes of Khalid, Becky G, and Marshmello, and his influences include Chris Young, George Strait, Lee Brice and Garth Brooks. He’s also the only artist in to simultaneously top all five of Billboard’s country music charts. Olivia Lane is an up and coming artist who is also from Tennessee, but was born in Texas. Her lyrics cover a wide range of topics from romance to mental health struggles. She cites Shania Twain, Frank Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King and Taylor Swift as some of her musical influences. And this week’s host, Holly Macve, is an Irish alt-country singer and guitarist, who has shared a stage with the likes of John Grant, Benjamin Clementine, and Ryley Walker. Her grandfather was a classical composer and her mother sang and collected blues, country and jazz records, so music definitely runs in the family.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save File” and “OK” from the pop-up menu.
Nazi Crime Investigators 34 mins – “This year, 2020, sees the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Its legacy remains. Nowhere more so than in Germany, where the rise of Nazism led to the war, and terrible crimes against humanity. Chris Bowlby explores how post-war Germans have faced this inheritance and discovers how a search for justice in relation to Nazi crimes has continued, despite heavy pressure to stop. Alongside that, a powerful culture of remembrance has emerged, as each new generation makes its reckoning with the past. We meet the little-known small team of Nazi crime investigators, working discreetly behind walled premises in Ludwigsburg in Southern Germany. They used to carry guns for self-protection, such was hostility to their work. Through their research they have identified more than 28,000 Nazi crime scenes. But soon those who lived through the Nazi period will all be dead. What difference will it make when there are no more victims alive to tell their stories, no more prosecutions or trials? Will this history still be remembered and understood? And we hear from a new, young and diverse generation of Germans what they think about their country’s Nazi past.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Nigeria Sex for Grades 18 mins – “University lecturers sexually harassing and blackmailing their students. It’s a problem which plagues West Africa but it’s almost never proven. Until now. This week Assignment teams up with the World Service investigative series, Africa Eye, which sent female journalists posing as students inside a top university in Nigeria to secretly record men who sexually harass and abuse young women. A year-long investigation reveals how lecturers – who can make or break academic careers – groom victims in academic settings; abusing their power to try to get what they want. Sex for grades is described as being so normalised it has become an epidemic, where vast numbers of young women have been harassed and abused.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Qanon and on and on 16 mins – “It’s bursting into the mainstream – a bizarre conspiracy theory that casts US President Donald Trump as its hero. QAnon claims that the president is secretly fighting a cabal of high-placed paedophiles in Hollywood and the so-called “deep state”. But why has it had an apparent surge in popularity during the global pandemic? Since it first emerged in an anonymous post on an online message board in 2017, QAnon has developed into a movement which is now making inroads into the American political psyche. However, many families of QAnon followers feel they have lost their relatives to a dangerous cult. Several people have been arrested plotting attacks while seemingly under the influence of the conspiracy theory. This week Twitter banned thousands of QAnon-themed accounts, but it’s likely that at least one adherent will enter the US Congress after elections in November. What role might this strange belief system play in US politics?” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Raed Fares Syrian Activist 18 mins – “Raed Fares, founder of Syria’s legendary Radio Fresh FM, was mowed down by unknown gunmen as he left his studios in rebel-held Idlib in November 2018. The death of the man who fought hatred with humour and laughed in the faces of President Assad, ISIS and al-Qaeda, sent shockwaves way beyond his troubled homeland. When ordered by Islamist extremists to stop broadcasting music he had replied with bird song and clucking chickens. On being told to take his female presenters off air, he put their voices through software to make them sound like men. In tribute to its founder, Raed Fares’s radio station has refused to die with him. One year on from his killing it continues to broadcast the comedy programmes he loved, as Assad’s troops close in and bombs fall around it.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Romanian Revolution 18 mins – “Thirty years after Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed on Christmas Day, Tessa Dunlop looks back at the violent birth of post-Communist Romania and asks if it has shaken off the legacy of decades of ruthless totalitarianism. The violence of the Romanian Revolution marked its difference from the other former Eastern European communist states which were swept away by largely peaceful pro-democracy movements born after the fall of the Berlin wall. In Romania, hundreds died in bloody protests as the regime’s grisly endgame was played out across the world’s media. Now, three decades on, we revisit the hope and trauma behind the December Revolution. What has changed, and how well has Romania come to terms with its past?” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Russian Domestic Abuse 18 mins – “Domestic abuse in Russia is endemic with thousands of women dying at the hands of their partners every year. Despite this a controversial law was passed in 2017, which scrapped prison sentences for first-time abusers. Beatings that do not cause broken bones or concussion are now treated as administrative offences rather than crimes. As one activist puts it: “the punishment for beating your wife now feels like paying a parking ticket.” But Russian society is waking up to the crisis. The case of three girls – the Khachaturyan sisters – who face long prison sentences for murdering their tyrannical father, has sparked mass protests. More than 300,000 people have signed an online petition urging prosecutors to drop the murder charges. The girls’ mother tells reporter Lucy Ash that her daughters were acting in self-defence against a man who had abused them physically, emotionally and sexually for years. Lucy also meets the mother of a woman stabbed to death by her husband who was discovered in her blood soaked bed by her seven year old son. In all three cases, the frightened women had appealed to the police but to no avail. These tragedies might have been averted if only the authorities had taken earlier warnings seriously. In Moscow, Lucy talks to activists who are fighting back by supporting victims, pushing for legal reforms and drawing attention to the cause through art, video games and social media. And she meets a lone feminist MP in the Russian Duma who is trying to bring in restraining orders for violent husbands, boyfriends and family members. Today Russia has no such laws and domestic violence is not a standalone offence in either the criminal or the civil code.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Solar Power 1 34 mins – “In the plains of Andalusia, just outside Seville, a giant tower stands bathed in a supernatural glow. This futuristic spectacle is a solar power station generating enough electricity to power a town – by day, and extraordinarily by night. It is just one part of a technological movement with revolutionary political consequences. For more than a century, the world has revolved around fossil fuels. Wars have been fought over them. The nations that had oil and gas had power. They controlled the price, they controlled the supply and could tell their customers what to do. The BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent, James Landale, now explores what will happen as countries around the world develop enough renewable energy to end their dependence on hydrocarbons and assesses the geopolitical consequences of this energy revolution. How long will the transition take? Will the powerful oil and gas producers in the Middle East reform in time or will their economies implode, leaving failed states, regional conflict and a population exodus? How will Russia respond if Europe no longer needs so much of its gas? And which countries will be the new energy superpowers? Who will control resources like lithium and cobalt that will be needed for new high tech batteries? Above all, who will call the shots in this new renewable world order? The energy revolution is coming and it could change our world forever.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Solar Power 2 18 mins – “…Above all, who will call the shots in this new renewable world order? The energy revolution is coming and it could change our world forever.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Sormeh Impact in Persia 19 mins – “The eyes have always been a focal point of Persian beauty for men and women and they have always been embellished with sormeh, or thick black eyeliner. Presenter Nassim Hatam’s grandmother taught her mother how to apply sormeh, which originates from a 4000-year-old recipe, and when the family was scattered to the four winds by revolution she made it her responsibility to supply the family women with their sormeh wherever they had settled. Now for Nassim, and millions of modern Persian women, the wearing of sormeh or black eye makeup has become something much bigger than make-up – it is an important part of their resistance to oppression.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
South Korea Youth Pressures 19 mins – “Academic expectations, job competition and financial pressures are forcing some young South Koreans to give up on relationships, marriage and kids. This phenomenon is known as the ‘sampo’ or ‘give up’ generation. The daily struggle to succeed within a patriotic and competitive culture is a shared experience. The suicide rate in Korea is the second highest among developed countries. In recent years, the quality of life reached such a low point, young people started referring to the country as, ‘hell Joseon’.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Soviet War in Afghanistan 34 mins – “The story of the Soviet war in Afghanistan told through its teenage soldiers and the music they created. The 10-year conflict from 1979 to 1989 was one of the most dramatic and consequential wars of modern times. It saw the end of an empire, and triggered a political shockwave that we still live with today. Time Has Chosen Us tells the story of this under-examined war through the oral histories of Soviet soldiers who reveal honest, sad and funny accounts of their teenage years on the frontlines.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Space Sewing Sisters 19 mins – “Space travel is not always high-tech. When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969, seamstresses made their spacesuits at a company famous for stitching latex into Playtex bras. During the Space Shuttle era, a group of 18 women were in charge of all soft goods – the fabrics for machine and hand sewing the spaceplane’s thermal blankets. These women became known as the Sew Sisters. Presenter, artist and former Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott meets some of the sew sisters from past and present missions and celebrates their contributions.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Star Wars Production 34 mins – “This is the true story of how Star Wars Episode IV-A New Hope got made. A film that, as plain old Star Wars, transformed cinema to become part of a pop culture phenomenon known across the world. As Episode IX arrives in our cinemas, wrapping up the destinies of the original trilogy characters and much more, we travel back a long, long time ago to the often agonising, challenging and ground breaking creation of the first film.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg 19 mins – “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the leading liberal Judge on the US Supreme Court. At 86 she has spent many decades fighting for women’s rights, including equal pay and access to abortion. A pioneer, this is a rare interview with a living legend. Razia Iqbal presents this special programme from New York as she receives the $1m Berggruen Prize for philosophy and culture.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Thai Activist Disappearance 19 mins – “Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen was last seen on April 17, 2014. At the time the human rights activist was working with lawyers in Bangkok to stop the eviction of Karen indigenous people from Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National park. For five years his wife fought to solve the mystery of his disappearance, suspecting a cover up by local park authorities. But this summer Billy’s body was found burned and stuffed into a 200-litre oil drum which had been dumped in a reservoir on the outskirts of the national park. BBC Thai’s correspondent, Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai, investigates Billy’s murder and discovers how his death could end up helping the families of other disappeared people in Thailand.” At the link you can listen, but not download; however, a copy of the podcast is included in this blog archive.
Translating Children 18 mins – “Across the UK, in supermarkets, hospitals, council houses and solicitors’ offices, children and young people are doing vital unpaid work: interpreting for their parents. Psychologist and former child migrant Humera Iqbal takes us inside the lives of Britain’s young translators as they try to make the most of their childhood and teenage years while shouldering adult responsibilities – from dealing with the landlord to taking mum for a smear test.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Uganda’s War 34 mins – “Alan Kasujja tells the story of the guerilla war in Uganda which began nearly 40 years ago and led to the current President Yoweri Museveni taking power. After the fall of Idi Amin there was a power vacuum in Uganda which led up to a general election. The former President Milton Obote returned from exile and was declared the winner. But amidst accusations of gerrymandering and intimidation, opposition groups claimed the 1980 election had been rigged. A young politician, Yoweri Museveni, had promised to fight an armed uprising in the bush if Obote won, and in 1981 he began a protracted guerrilla war.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.
Zogos of Liberia 18 mins – “When Miatta was 14 years old, armed rebels stormed into her classroom and forcibly recruited her and her classmates. They were trained to use machine guns and then sent to the front line to fight in Liberia’s devastating civil war. Nineteen years later, Miatta is what many Liberians would call a Zogo. The Zogos are Liberia’s underclass: jobless, homeless and addicted to drugs. They’re a menace on the streets of the capital, Monrovia, where many make their living by snatching purses and phones from passers-by. In this Assignment, Lucy Ash follows a projects aiming to rehabilitate hundreds of Liberia’s Zogos – including Miatta.” At the link left-click “Download,” then right-click “Higher quality” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.