On the Radio

Week of November 30, 2014

Death: The Wake

November 30, 2014

How do we mark death and celebrate lost lives around the globe? In this hour, we hear stories from inside the funeral industry, and learn about burial and mourning rituals throughout history.

  1. Tending to the Body

    Rebecca Dopart was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Poland, in the mid-90s. While there, she fell in love and got married. Just three weeks after her wedding, her father-in-law died. In this story, Dopart recalls how her husband tended to his father’s body.

    Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
  2. Ask a Mortician

    When a loved one dies, most of us turn to a professional, someone like Caitlin Doughty. She's a licensed mortician, death activist, and creator of the popular webseries "Ask A Mortician". In this interview, she talks about what happens when a body is prepared for burial.

    Average: 3 (2 votes)
  3. Ghanaian Coffins are a Fantasy of Life and Dreams [Slideshow]

    Seth Kane Kwei launched a revolution in Ghanaian funeral practices in the early 1950s, when he redesigned a chief's traditional palaquin into a coffin. His grandson, Eric Adjetey Anang, is now carrying on his grandfather's work, making coffins that reflect the trades, accomplishments and dreams of the deceased. 

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
  4. Does Caring for the Dead Make Us Human?

    According to historian Thomas Laqueur, neither sanitation nor the soul fully explain the rang of rituals we've developed for caring for dead bodies. For him, there is a deeper anthropological truth at work: caring for the dead marks the human transition from nature into culture.

    Average: 3 (1 vote)
  5. Coming of Age in a Funeral Home

    Sheri Booker was terrified when she first started working at the Wylie Funeral Home at the age of 15. She was still grieving the death of a beloved aunt, and took the job in the hope of finding a sense of closure. After preparing her first client — a suicide victim with a gunshot wound to the head — something changed. As morbid as it may sound, she was hooked.

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
  6. "Death Doesn't Bother Me Anyway, Pt. 4"

    In the fourth episode of the story of Dan Pierotti's death, friends and family stay with Dan's body in the days before the funeral. Dan's wife Judy talks about her experience of the funeral and burial.

    "Then it's final," Judy says. "There's no coming back from any of it. But just the first shovel full of dirt that hits that coffin... that's very hard to hear, very hard to experience."

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
  7. A Poet's Elegy to His Son

    In 2011, as Hurricane Irene made landfall in New York City, poet Edward Hirsch learned that his 22-year old son Gabriel had died from a bad drug reaction and subsequent seizure. Later, Hirsch composed “Gabriel,” a book-length elegy poem about his relationship with his son, and his loss.

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
  8. On the Music in This Hour [Playlist]

    We made some particular choices about the music in hour four. Here's a note from Charles about the thinking that went into the score, and a Spotify playlist to explore.

    Average: 3 (1 vote)

The Secret Language of Plants

November 30, 2014
(was 05.11.2014)

Scientists are discovering how plants secretly talk to each other.  How smart is your geranium, and what does a tree know?  Today, we're eavesdropping on the secret language of plants.

  1. Thinking Like a Forest - Suzanne Simard

    A forest is an amazing repository of both knowledge and wisdom.  Ecologist Suzanne Simard takes Anne Strainchamps on a walking tour of a forest to point out the remarkable web of life both above and below the ground.

    Average: 5 (18 votes)
  2. What a Plant Knows - Daniel Chamovitz

    Did you know plants see, smell and communicate with neighboring plants?  And have both long and short term memory?  Plant geneticist Daniel Chamovitz describes the complex world of plant life.

    Average: 5 (10 votes)
  3. Sonic Sidebar: Data Garden Quartet

    An audio installation that gives tropical plants the tools to play synthesizers, allowing people to experience biorhythms as live music.

    Average: 3.9 (7 votes)
  4. Plant Intelligence - Jeremy Narby

    Slime molds that solve mazes and parasitic dodder plants that seek out their prey are remarkable examples of nature's intelligence.  Anthropologist Jeremy Narby offers lessons on how to see the entire world as our kin.

    Average: 4.7 (10 votes)
  5. The Grammar of Animacy

    Robin Wall Kimmerer is a biologist, a writer, and a member of the Potawatomi nation.  In her essay collection, "Braiding Sweetgrass," she weaves scientific knowledge and indigenous wisdom into a deeper understanding of the nature of plant life.

    Average: 4.9 (14 votes)
  6. Dangerous Idea: Question Your Beliefs

    Charles Eisteinstein's Dangerous Idea?  Questioning our core beliefs can change our world.

    Average: 5 (3 votes)
  7. On Our Minds: Ralph Nader

    An alliance between Ralph Nader and Ron Paul?  It may sound surprising, but they've found common ground.  Nader explains how the Left and Right can come together on key issues.



    Average: 4.9 (9 votes)