Airing this Month
The Steel Driving Man and the Man of Steel (November 1 - 7)
The song "John Henry" is one of the most popular in American history, but for years, nobody knew whether the legendary railroad tunneler was real or simply a tall tale. Recently, Scott Reynolds Nelson (College of William and Mary)(left, with Bruce Springsteen) discovered a historic record of an actual railroad worker named John Henry, who was buried secretly by the Richmond Penitentiary. Also: Gary Rogers (Virginia Military Institute) and Gene Whitesell take Producer Jesse Dukes to an abandoned railroad tunnel in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And, Tom De Haven (Virginia Commonwealth University) is writing a fictitious biography of Superman, a character that has undergone a number of transformations since he was created in 1938.
WGR News Feature: Using detective skills worthy of Sherlock Holmes, a Virginia historian has pieced together clues to show that John Henry, the "Steel Drivin' Man" of song--may be more flesh-and-blood than myth. Producer Nancy King has more. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.
Nicole Karjane (Virginia Commonwealth University) offers insights into pregnancy and labor from her perspective as both a mother of three and Director of the VCU Medical Center’s Mother/Infant Unit. Also, while the media may cover mega-celebrity Angelina Jolie’s pregnancy with loving attention to every detail, mere mortal women still face prejudice and even outright hostility in our society during pregnancy. Eden King (George Mason University) says this is not only counter-productive; it’s illegal—and has been for 30 years. And: producer Nancy King gathered a group of Charlottesville mothers around a dining room table and listened to their memories of pregnancy—some funny, some poignant, all real.
A Nintendo game is the hottest new exercise video for seniors. Nancy King observes this trend first-hand with some “Wii Bowlers” and recreation therapists Susan Lynch and Cathy Roy (Longwood University). Meanwhile, researchers are creating virtual-reality scenery and games to encourage therapy patients to extend their workouts on a treadmill. Martha Walker’s team is seeing success with adults who are recovering from strokes and another team led by Karen Kott (Old Dominion University) sees promise for children with cerebral palsy. Also featured: H. Michael Gelfand (James Madison University) says the sport of surfing, which began in Hawaii, has gone from a marginalized pastime of beach hoodlums to a far more respected global industry.
In Virginia, oysters have influenced our history, our industry, our culture and, of course, our eating habits. When Captain John Smith sailed into the Chesapeake Bay, he said oysters were so plentiful “they lay thick as stones.” By the 1980s, overharvesting, disease and pollution had reduced the number of oysters to just one percent of those historic levels. But there is now reason for optimism as oysters are making a comeback. Chefs, oystermen, conservationists, oyster-lovers, and poets Nikki Giovanni (Virginia Tech) and Tim Seibles (Old Dominion University) all weigh-inabout the legend and allure of Crassotrea virginica.
US Highway 58 begins at the beaches of Hampton Roads and winds along the southern border of Virginia. Author Joe Tennis (Virginia Highlands Community College) shares stories from this road, which takes you from a statue of Poseidon, through the Great Dismal Swamp, past the original Lovers’ Leap, to the New River, and to the birthplace of country music. Also: Inman Majors (James Madison University) believes that the people he met as a college-educated bartender are missing from current Southern literature. He writes novels filled with characters from the New South--politicians, lawyers, poets, and teachers who love John Coltrane every bit as much as Hank Williams.