The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
Route 66—The Mother Road
John Steinbeck called it the “Mother Road.” Songwriter Bobby Troup described it as the route to get your kicks on. And Mickey Mantle said, “If it hadn’t been for Highway 66 I never would have been a Yankee.” For the Dust Bowl refugees of the 1930s, for the thousands who migrated after World War II, and for the generations of tourists and vacationers, Route 66 was “the Way West.”
Route 66, the first continuously paved highway linking east and west was the most traveled and well known road in America for almost fifty years. From Chicago, it ran through the Ozarks of Missouri, across Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, up the mesas of New Mexico and Arizona, and down into California to the Pacific Ocean. The first road of its kind, it came to represent America’s mobility and freedom—inspiring countless stories, songs, and even a TV show.
Songwriter Bobby Troup tells the story of his 1946 hit Get Your Kicks on Route 66; Gladys Cutberth, aka Mrs. 66 and members of the old “66 Association” talk about the early years of the road. Mickey Mantle explains “If it hadn’t been for US 66 I wouldn’t have been a Yankee.” Stirling Silliphant, creator of the TV series “Route 66” talks about the program and its place in American folklore of the 60s.
Studs Terkel reads from “The Grapes of Wrath” and comments on the great 1930s migration along Highway 66. We hear from Black and white musicians including Clarence Love, head of Clarence Love and his Orchestra, Woody Guthrie, and Eldin Shamblin, guitar player for Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys—who remember life on the road for musicians during the 1930s. We travel the history of the road from its beginnings as “The Main Street of America,” through the “Road of Flight” in the 1930s, to the “Ghost Road” of the 1980s, as the interstates bypass the businesses and road side attractions of another era.
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters and narrated by actor David Selby.
169—Cry Me A River
Today we’re thinking about Pack Creek Ranch in southern Utah and an incredible archive of material, gathered by river guide and environmental activist Ken Sleight, that was consumed by fire in early June, 2021.
The archive held over 50 years of photographs, writings, and correspondence chronicling Ken Sleight’s years of guiding on the Colorado River, his fight to stop the damming of Glen Canyon and the filling of Lake Powell in the 1950s and 60s, and his close friendship with Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench gang. Ken is the inspiration for Abbey’s character Seldom Seen Smith.
In honor of Ken Sleight and all who are out there working to save our planet we share again “Cry me a River” – the dramatic stories of three pioneering river activists—Ken Sleight, Katie Lee, and Mark Dubois and the damming of wild rivers in the west.
Katie Lee, born in 1917, a former Hollywood starlet, ran the Colorado River through Glen Canyon long before it was dammed, and in 1955 was the 175th person to run the Grand Canyon. An outspoken conservationist, singer and writer, she spent her life fighting for rivers.
Mark Dubois, co-founder of Friends of the River, Earth Day and International Rivers Network, began as a river guide who opened up rafting trips to disabled people in the 1970s. Dubois protested the damming and flooding of the Stanislaus River by hiding himself in the river canyon and chaining himself to a rock as the water rose in 1979.
We thank producer, river activist and “Keeper,” Martha Ham for her inspiration, her work on this story, and for chronicling Ken Sleight’s life and world on the river. This piece is part of Stories from the Heart of the Land, a series featuring intimate stories from around the world about the human connection to land and landscape, produced by Atlantic Public media and supported by The Nature Conservancy. Special thanks to Jay Allison and Emily Botein.
169-Gert McMullin—Sewing on the Frontline—From the AIDS Quilt to COVID-19 PPE
In 1985, Gert McMullin was one of the first San Franciscans to put a stitch on the AIDS Quilt, the quilt that began with one memorial square in honor of a man who had died of AIDS, and that now holds some 95,000 names. Gert never planned it this way, but over the decades she has become the Keeper of the Quilt and has stewarded it, repaired it, tended it, traveled with it and conserved it for some 33 years. Gert knows the power of sewing.
In 2020, when COVID-19 hit, Gert was one of the first Bay Area citizens to begin sewing masks—PPE for nurses and health care workers who were lacking proper protection—masks she made from fabric left over from the making of the AIDS Quilt. The comfort, outrage and honoring of an earlier pandemic being used to protect people from a new one.
In January of 2020 The AIDS Memorial Quilt, now part of The National AIDS Memorial, returned home to the Bay Area after 16 years in Atlanta. It took six 52-foot semis to get it there. The over sixty tons of quilt, is made up of about 48,000 panels, each 3 x 6 feet, the size of a grave. The extensive AIDS Archive, which Gert gathered, collected and protected since its earliest days, is now part of The American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
This piece features stories of Gert McMullin and the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Gay Rights Movement in San Francisco, Harvey Milk and The White Night Riots and more. With interviews with LGBT Rights activist Cleve Jones who worked with Harvey Milk and conceived of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial.
Soul to Soul at 50 — Ghana's Homecoming Festival for African American Artists, 1971
Fifty years ago, a group of some of the top musicians from the United States — Ike and Tina Turner, Wilson Pickett, the Staple Singers, Santana and more -– boarded a plane bound for Ghana to perform in a musical celebration that was dubbed the “Soul to Soul Festival.” Thousands of audience members filled Accra’s Black Star Square for a continuous 15 hours of music. The festival was planned in part for the annual celebration of Ghana’s independence, but also as an invitation to a “homecoming” for these noted African-American artists to return to Africa. This episode revisits the famed music festival on its 50th anniversary and explores the longstanding legacy of cultural exchange with African diasporans originally set forth in the 1950s by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. Noted musicologist John Collins, poet and scholar Tsitsi Ella Jaji, concert goers and more.
Produced by Brandi Howell for Afro Pop USA.
Danni Washington and The Genius Generation
We’re excited about The Genius Generation, a new podcast hosted by Danni Washington, and we want you to get in on it. The Genius Generation — innovative kids, tweens and teens who are making discoveries, taking on the issues and problems they see around them and inventing new solutions using science.
Host Danni Washington is a young science communicator dedicated to inspiring and educating youth about all things science. Danni, the first African American woman to host a Science Television Show in the US, interviews these young problem solvers and inventors and shares their stories of innovation and inspiration.
Young people are sounding the alarm, not accepting things as they are, and using their smarts and ingenuity to invent the change they want to see.
Featuring an interview with host Danni Washington and an episode from The Genius Generation Season 1 - the story of Luna Abadia the 16 year old founder of the Effective Climate Action Project.
The Genius Generation. A new podcast from TRAX and PRX.
Dave Brubeck & The Ambassadors of Jazz
“A blue note in a minor key—America has its secret sonic weapon—Jazz.”
That was the headline in 1955 when the United States sent its top musicians overseas to promote democracy. They called them the Jazz Ambassadors—Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dave Brubeck.
Today, in honor of Dave Brubeck month (May 4 is Dave Brubeck day — that’s 5/4 named for the 5/4 time signature of take 5) the story of Dave Brubeck and the Jazz Ambassadors. In 1958, the Dave Brubeck Quartet embarked on a tour of Europe and Asia sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
And a special interview with Dave Brubeck’s sons, Dan and Chris Brubeck and what it was like growing up with their very unusual and genius father. Excellent musicians in their own right, the two share intimate memories of their father and his legendary contributions to modern jazz.
Featuring interviews with Keith Hatschek, Program Director for Music Management and Music Industry Studies at the University of Pacific; and Mike Wurtz, Assistant Professor and Head of Special Collections and Archives at the Holt-Atherton Special Collections at the University of Pacific Library. The archival recording of Dave Brubeck is from his interview with Monk Rowe from the Fillius Jazz Archive at Hamilton College.
Produced by Brandi Howell for The Echo Chamber Podcast.
Well-produced stories. I like that they cover a variety of topics and people; you never know quite what you're going to get. I'm often pleasantly surprised when they dive into a subject that I wouldn't look into myself, but end up finding intriguing because of their work.
The episode on Eel Pie Island was great! For a podcast that seems a bit niche at first, actually has a broad appeal. The Dylan archives ep was also a highlight for me.
Such a beautifully done podcast
Great stories, great voices