Howard Smith had an extraordinary run in the early days of celebrity interviewing, back when it was fun and, you know, real. He got hours and hours of frank and unmediated thoughts from stars who became his friends. But the orginal audio tapes lay in storage, until now. Here's my BBC Today programme report on an exciting archive that's now rolling out on iTunes.
A few homicide-suicides ago, it was the turn of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to have life turned upside down by a lone gunman. I was at their temple, when news of the sickening murders at Newtown CT began to come in. This documentary for BBC World Service was more focussed on the impact of Sikhism than violence per se, but the urgent debate over how much violence we can tolerate in America 2013, seeps through it all. Have a listen if you have time on this grey Sunday. My show was for the Heart & Soul strand.
The wonderful Betty Halbreich, shows me round the store with which she is synonymous. A vintage injection of New York to start the New Year, and as the programme editor from PM wrote to me after transmission, a tonic during times when the headlines are sometimes unbearably grim. BBC Radio 4 put it out on New Year's Day.
Has Occupy found its path to permanence? A visit to their central Brooklyn hub on 4th Avenue, suggests that the idea has really found its home. Rebuilding and reconnecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers, living in the most vulnerable places. BBC World Service ran this several times yesterday.
Thousands of New York families in areas like southern Coney Island, live on the edge at the best of times. There are no flattened houses there after Sandy, but their future looks seriously bleak. Already a food desert, it's now a wasteland, and Occupy Sandy hopes to fill the void. FEMA and the Red Cross....Nowhere to be seen in the few hours I was there. BBC Newshour and the PM show, are among those airing my piece today:
Belle Harbor in the Rockaways is barely part of New York, and do people there feel that this week...Down the street from Breezy Point, they're ruined, and authorities have let them wait, allowing Occupy Sandy to step into the void. There's plenty not to like about the culture there, but they are New Yorkers, and they're cold and hurting...Even the church staff were nowhere to be seen when I paid a visit...Bernie Heeran lost his son in 9/11, and now his pub's burned to the ground. This ran on Radio 4 today.
The epicenter of the civilized world is without power, thanks to Sandy and it's Victorian infrastructure. On my travels around the Lower East Side, I was beginning to hear talk of imminent looting. The NYPD's throwing plenty of manpower down there, but it was beginning to feel like Alphabet City, 1988, by the time I left... This ran on the flagship Today programme, BBC Radio 4:
Why do so many more Latino voters choose Obama over Romney? They care about a wider family beyond their own, and ignore their bishops. Here's the story from Ohio's Mahoning Valley, where many newcomers live on the margins, aided by Puerto Ricans who remember their roots...
Avenues: The World School, is an educator's dream. A private teacher's paradise which could soon be replicated in more than 20 cities around the world. Starting this week in New York, it's an elite education for the Davos generation, who also want the option of Harvard or Princeton. Can it really work as a business? How can it not compound problems of educational inequality? Is the promise of trickle-down innovation for public schools, pure tokenism? How long will Suri Cruise stick it out? Have a listen to my piece which aired across the BBC World Service today:
Republicans in the states are deliberately seeking to stop African-American women in particular, from voting in November. They're doing this by insisting that voters impersonating other people are a real problem, despite a complete lack of evidence thereof. It's worst of all in Pennsylvania, where hundreds of thousands could fail to meet the requirement for a valid voter ID card. Sure, some thousands of white rural voters are probably in trouble too, but this is all about denying Obama votes. Utterly cynical, and redolent of the South pre-'65. The BBC's World At One, ran my piece today: