Monday, June 2, 2 p.m.
Interior Alaska: Frontier Community
Interior Alaska can be a forbidding place. The region is largely wilderness, covered with expansive stretches of tundra and towering mountain ranges. Winters are long and dark, with just a few hours of sunlight on the shortest days and temperatures that often plunge to -50F. Because of its isolation and climate, the region has long attracted people drawn to the challenges and opportunities of a wild, remote place. In this episode of SOTRU, we'll meet a number of athletes, journalists, scientists, and activists who embody the spirit of Interior Alaska through their grit, determination, and iconoclasm. And we'll explore what it means to live in a frontier community, through the stories of a dog kennel trying to change the culture of sled dog racing, a murder that has long divided the city of Fairbanks, a heated battle over wood burning stoves, and more.
Monday, June 9, 2 p.m.
Salt Lake City, UT: Updating Tradition
When Mormon pioneers rolled into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, they brought with them a new theology, a short but intense history of persecution, and dreams of a new kind of society. 166 years later, Salt Lake City remains deeply influenced by Mormon culture, but defies easy categorization. With a large and politically active gay scene, one of the biggest Polynesian populations in the country, and a steady stream of new migrants, the city is full of vibrant contradiction—and sometimes conflict. From progressive Mormons working to heal the rift between the historically anti-gay church and the LGBT community, to young Shoshone computer programmers who’ve created the first-ever video game in their native language, to a pioneering podcast produced in a secure care facility for youth, we’ll explore how some of the city’s most entrenched institutions are being stretched and adapted to fit the modern Mormon.
Monday, June 16, 2 p.m.
Host Al Letson and guest producer John Biewen (of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) present a collection of stories from Durham, North Carolina. In this hour of SOTRU, we explore the role of sports in the lives of young people, and their families, as the kids pursue success in athletics and in life.
Monday, June 23, 2 p.m.
The Sorting of America
The U.S. has been a country shaped by migration, dating back to the days of the pioneers making their way West. But recently, this country has been seeing a different kind of migration, one motivated not by economic necessity, but lifestyle choices. More and more, people are moving to places where they're surrounded by others like themselves. In this episode of SOTRU, we tell stories of this new kind of migration, of people moving to different corners of the country find (or build) themselves a haven.
Monday, June 30, 2 p.m.
Hawai'i: The Legacy of Sugar
For many Americans, Hawai'i is a tropical playground, the place of surf, sun and dream vacations. Behind the tourist façade, though, is one of the most unique multicultural states in the nation, one still dealing with the complicated legacy of the circumstances under which it become part of this country. And so much of how Hawai'i is now comes back to one game-changing element: sugar. For decades, long before it was a tourist’s paradise, what Hawai'i did was grow sugar. That was not only its economic driver, it was a force that remade the place. In this episode of SOTRU, we’ll explore the way contemporary Hawai'i is still navigating the legacy of the sugar plantations now in the 21st century.
Host, Executive Producer, Idea Man, and Top Dog of State of the Re:Union, Al Letson has received national recognition and built a devoted fan base with soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work. He established himself early in his career as a heavyweight in the Poetry Slam Movement, which garnered artistic credibility and renown. Performing on a number of national, regional and local stages including HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, CBS’s Final Four PreGame Show and commercial projects for Sony, the Florida Times Union, Adobe Software, and the Doorpost Film Project, Al has honed his professional voice and artistic sensibilities into a unique brand that is all his own. After winning the Public Radio Talent Quest, Al received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create three episodes of his public radio show concept State of the Re:Union. His company finished their first grant in August of 2009 and has just been awarded one of the largest public radio grants every given to a single project to produce a full season of shows.
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