The Story

The Story was produced at North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC and was heard on over 100 stations.

Visit The Story web site to listen to this program and for more details, archives, show highlights and more podcasts.  UPDATE 1.13.2020:  The Story web site has been decomissioned and is in the process of being achived.  It may return at a later date.

Listen to podcasts:

Dick Gordon, host of the The Story
Indaia Whitcombe

"The Story,” a nationally syndicated public radio news interview program hosted by the award-winning journalist Dick Gordon, will broadcast its final program on North Carolina Public Radio-WUNC on October 11, 2013.

Gordon plans to return to his native Canada, where he started his journalism career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, to be closer to his family.

Connie Walker, WUNC’s president and general manager, said Gordon recently made the difficult decision to step away from the program, which is produced at WUNC and offers an hour of stories, five days a week, in a long-form conversation format.

Ex-Drone Operator Captures Experiences In Poetry

Aug 23, 2013
Photo: An MQ-1 Predator aircraft
MQ-1 Predator

When Lynn Hill served in the U.S. Air Force, she helped operate Predator drones that flew over Iraq and Afghanistan – but she did it from a base in Las Vegas. When her tour was up in 2006, she closed the door on that part of her life - until she started writing poetry delving into what it meant for her to have one foot in the war and one foot at home. In this conversation, Hill tells guest host Sean Cole about a performance she has created called "Holding It Down."

How Easy Is It To Replicate A Famous Painting?

Aug 22, 2013
Photo: The ‘Young Woman in a Small Ruff’ painting by Amedeo Modigliani and Susie Ray's copy.
Wikipaintings and Susie Ray Originals

Susie Ray, a painter in London, recently opened an art gallery called Susie Ray Originals. Inside, Ray displays what she calls her “original copies” of famous masterworks by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and many others. Her copies are so good they’ve fooled the art auction firm Sotheby’s, but she tells guest host Sean Cole she has no intention to deceive anyone. “You don’t want to get into that world,” she says. “A lot of former forgers have ended up dead.” Trained as a scientific illustrator at London’s Kew Gardens, Ray has an uncanny ability to look at a something and reproduce it perfectly, without tracing or using computer tricks.

My Summer At An Indian Call Center

Aug 20, 2013
Photo: Cubicles in a call center in India
barracuadz via Flickr

Every day thousands of Indians leave their small towns and look for big cities to work in business outsourcing.  Andrew Marantz spent a summer at call center in India and wrote about it for Mother Jones magazine. He details the reaction he got when he showed up, the accent that is encouraged - a neutral one, he says - and the classes offered to work at there.

How Fire Ants Are Taking Over North America

Aug 19, 2013
Photo: A red ant
Roby Edrian via Flickr

Justin Nobel wasn’t always an expert on fire ants. But ever since he was swarmed by them on a picnic in New Orleans, he has been writing about them. The search began in Mobile, Ala., and it is marching up north.

President John F. Kennedy’s Last Exhibit

Aug 16, 2013
Sculpture: 'Angry Owl' by Pablo Picasso
Dallas Museum of Art

When managers of the Hotel Texas learned President Kennedy would be staying with them in November of 1963, they wanted to make it a memorable experience. In the five days leading up to his visit, the hotel, working with art curators, gathered a collection of masterpiece artworks to fill the rooms for the president and Jacqueline Kennedy. They had no way of knowing it would be the last art Kennedy would ever see. Fifty years later, curator Olivier Meslay has recreated that art collection for the Dallas Museum of Art.

A Hotshot's View Of The Wildfires Of The West

Aug 15, 2013
Photo: Rick Cowell and a crew of hotshot firefighters
Kyle Dickman

Rick Cowell has spent the last 36 years fighting wildfires in the West.  This past December, he retired and is now watching his crew take on what is turning out to be a busy wildfire season.  Cowell says that over the years much of the new technology has made locating fires easier. But the work of hotshots, an elite group of wilderness first responders, has remained the same: lots of cutting, digging and intentional burning.

My Journey Three Miles Under The Sea

Aug 14, 2013
Photo: Anemones and shrimp at a hot water vent
NERC

Dr. Jon Copley has been studying life forms deep in the oceans for years. But he’s made most of his expeditions using machines operated from above the surface. This summer, he dove in the first manned mission to the deepest known hot water vents, located in the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean Sea. He tells guest host Sean Cole that, even though the purpose of the expedition was to study life near the vents, he was captivated by what he saw on his way down – and back up.

A Basketball Coach Tells His Team He’s Gay

Aug 13, 2013
Photo: Anthony Nicodemo and his team
Out Sports

Anthony Nicodemo is the varsity basketball coach at Saunders High School in Yonkers, N.Y. Earlier this summer, he called a meeting with his players and their parents and told them he was gay. Nicodemo tells guest host Sean Cole he’d been keeping his personal life to himself for 17 years because he was afraid of disclosing anything that might keep him from coaching. So far, parents, players, administrators and alumni have rallied around him.

Photo: Portrait of Hakeem in his Detroit home
Dave Jordano

Photographer Dave Jordano, a native of Detroit and long-time resident of Chicago, has returned to his hometown to make portraits of people who did not leave. In his online exhibit “Detroit Unbroken Down,” he passes up the grand spaces in ruin or crumbling homes that have become symbols of the Motor City, but focuses on the faces of the city.

Photo: Lynn Rogers and a black bear
Wildlife Research Institute

Biologist Lynn Rogers has been putting radio collars on bears and feeding them for years in Ely, Minn. He’s learned about their behavior and is aiming to become the “Jane Goodall of Black Bears.” This has caused consternation in the town among some people who worry about the habits of bears who are used to humans. They are trying to get the license for his scientific project revoked. He speaks with guest host Phoebe Judge.

Photo: A hallway in the Carville National Leprosarium
Phoebe Judge

Neil White was a Louisiana businessman in his early 30s, living comfortably with his wife and two children, when the FBI discovered a check-fraud scheme he was running and got him locked up for 18 months.

Illustration: Whale
WikiPaintings

When Lynne Cox was 17 years old, she'd already broken several world records for long-distance swimming. She'd crossed the English Channel twice and always trained. One morning, she was swimming in the ocean off Seal Beach, Calif., before the sun was up.  Suddenly, she realized a baby whale was following her. She couldn't swim back to shore because he'd follow her and run aground, so she stayed in the water with him for hours and hours, hoping his mother would come back for him. Cox tells guest host Phoebe Judge the story of Grayson.

Photo: A topographer at work with an alidade and plane table.
U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library

What's a centroid? It is a hypothetical calculation of the exact center of the U.S. population. It involves the U.S. Census and has changed over the country's 220 years, sometimes falling in a town and at other times settling in the middle of rural country. Orion Magazine writer Jeremy Miller explores the centroid and finds that its movement has matched the country's westward expansion and development.

Photo: Amsterdam, 1937. Children sit in a sandbox, including Anne Frank  and Barbara Rodbell.
Barbara Rodbell

In 1933, when Nazi power was surging, Barbara Rodbell's family left Germany for Amsterdam. There, in the Jewish community, Barbara and her sister became good friends with Anne Frank and her family. The Nazis began to round up Jews in Amsterdam and at age 17, Barbara chose to hide in plain sight - to pass as a non-Jew. She took off her yellow star and obtained false identification papers. She connected with a group of resistance activists, and this is how she survived.

Illustration: Man meditating in an office
thedigitaldetox.org

At 23, Levi Felix was the vice president of a startup in California, making a good salary, but he was working around the clock, not eating well, and sleeping with his cell phone under his pillow. Then, one day he felt weak and checked himself into the hospital.

When his doctors ordered him to slow down, he set off on what would become three years of around-the-globe traveling and completely disconnecting from technology.

In this conversation, Felix tells host Dick Gordon what he learned about disconnecting and how he brought it back to the U.S. through what he calls Digital Detox, a summer camp and retreat for anyone who wants to get away from her gadgets.

Hear the full conversation at The Story's website. Also in this show: Ed Rosenthal went for what he thought would be a short hike in the Mojave Desert, then wound up lost; and Margareta Claesson and her husband, noted physiologist Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, studied the camel and found the key to its survival is in its nose.

Photo: George Krimsky in Moscow
Krimsky Family

George Krimsky had been living in Moscow for a few months when he met the grandson of an infamous dictator: Josef Stalin. Krimsky, an American correspondent with the Associated Press, quickly sensed he had a major story in front of him.

The grandson, Josef Alliluyev, told Krimsky that his mother had defected to the United States in 1967, and that he wanted to join her. In order to do that, the grandson said, he would need Krimsky’s help to send and receive letters from his mother.

Photo: Ricky Macklin
The Working World

Two former workers from the bankrupt Republic Windows and Doors factory, Armando Robles and Ricky Macklin, talk with host Dick Gordon about what has happened since they held a lock-in in 2008. In May this year, with help from labor organizations in Chicago and a loan from The Working World, they were able to “fire the boss” and start an employee-owned factory, New Era Windows Cooperative. “We used to always say that owners need workers, but workers don’t necessarily need owners,” Macklin says.

Book cover: 'Hope After Faith'
Perseus Books

Jerry DeWitt spent most of his life working as an evangelical preacher in Louisiana. Then, two years ago, something happened.

He got a phone call from one of his parishioners asking him to pray for her seriously injured brother.  DeWitt realized that he had no proof that praying was going to do anything to save this man and it was unfair to get the sister’s hopes up. He couldn’t do it.

DeWitt left the church and is now an atheist.  The transition has not been easy.  He has been ostracized from his community and his family, but says that he could no longer spend his life doubting the very existence of something that he was leading others to believe.

Hear the full conversation at The Story's website. Also in this show: how a group of students and professionals created a human-pedaled helicopter that can rise higher than 10 feet and hover for more than a minute.

Painting: Untitled by Zdislav Beksinski
WikiPaintings

For the past two weeks, thousands of California inmates in solitary confinement have been protesting conditions in security housing units with a hunger strike.  Among the demands: that a photograph be allowed in the cell, and that counseling and more nutritious food be provided.

Photo: Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
U.S. Department of Defense

Dale Zelko and Zoltan Dani had no reason to ever meet. But in 1999, Zelko, a NATO pilot, was flying an F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter over Serbia. And Dani, a colonel with the Yugoslav Army, shot down Zelko’s stealth bomber, becoming a national hero for defending his country.

That was their first meeting. As Zelko parachuted to the ground, he thought about the man who'd hit him.

"I imagined standing next to the Serbian surface-to-air missile officer who shot me down," Zelko says. "I imagined standing next to him at a café, and I imagined saying to him, 'Really, really, really nice shot, but you're not going to get me.'"

Photo: Daniel Bellow pictured with his father Saul in 1969
Michael Mauney/Time & Life Pictures

Greg Bellow grew up in the shadow of a famous father, Nobel Prize winning writer Saul Bellow.  For most of their time together the relationship was contentious and their views often clashed, but Greg Bellow says that after his father’s death in 2005, he began to understand how conflicted his father had become as an older man, and he began to appreciate the toll writing had taken on his father’s life.

In the Rubble of Rana Plaza

Jul 17, 2013
Painting: Record Breaking Workers at the Factory Krasnaya Zaria by Pavel Filonov
Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Charles Kernaghan recently saw the wreckage of the factory collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh that killed over 1000. He talked to the survivors, many of whom lost limbs in the disaster. Charles and his colleagues have been holding secret meetings with garment industry workers to document the conditions they face. He talks with host Dick Gordon about the challenges of fighting for workers’ rights in Bangladesh.

Jedediah Purdy
Travis Drove

Jedediah Purdy, a law professor at Duke University, is one of more than 700 people who have been arrested in a series of political rallies in Raleigh, N.C., called Moral Mondays.

In this conversation, he tells host Dick Gordon that he didn’t expect to find himself among the singing, chanting protesters. But, he says, North Carolina NAACP president William Barber's blend of religious and constitutional language moved him to come forward and be arrested in an act of civil disobedience against his state’s Republican legislature.

Photo: Kathleen Flenniken at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation
Alexander Flenniken

Poet Kathleen Flenniken grew up near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington state. At the height of the Cold War, people in her town believed they were helping protect America - and that they were safe, too.

But Flenniken says that when a family friend who worked at the site died from radiation exposure, she realized she had to reexamine her past. She tells host Dick Gordon her book of poetry "Plume" is an attempt to make sense of the pride and betrayal she feels when it comes to her childhood in the center of the atomic age.

Photo: Wolves on Isle Royale
Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale

For 55 years, scientists on Isle Royale in Michigan’s Lake Superior have been tracking the relationship between wolves and moose. But this year, for the first time in decades, no wolf pups were born on Isle Royale - jeopardizing both the study and the fate of the island’s pack.

Photo: Grafitti in Cairo
Courtesy Soraya Morayef

Egypt’s walls are filled with stenciled images and art. The graffiti there is haunting and powerful. So much so that Egyptian journalist Soraya Morayef has been photographing the walls and charting the role of graffiti in the political discourse. Morayef has a blog called “Suzee in the City.” Her blog documents her exploration of the graffiti in Cairo - both the art and the artists.

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

Photographer Sara Naomi Lewkowicz spent months documenting the lives of a young couple, Shane and Maggie. She was in their home the night that Shane attacked Maggie, and photographed the attack. Although her images were integral in putting Shane behind bars, Sara was widely criticized for not putting down her camera and intervening.

Host Dick Gordon speaks with mandolinist Chris Thile, of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers, about how he reengineered blue grass to create his own sound.

Also in this show: Contributor Sean Cole ventures into Central Park after dark, a no-no.

Listen here.

Pages