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Podcast Seriously...

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  • The Black and the Green
    British-Jamaican audio artist and DJ Weyland McKenzie-Witter explores the sometimes uneasy relationship between the Black and the Green, as political movements and ideas. It's the untold story of their longstanding relationship, first as political movements developing in the United States, a wariness that continues today between new organisations such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion – the latter (along with the wider environmental movement) criticised for being overwhelmingly white, idealistic and middle-class. Climate activists meanwhile have sometimes dismissed what they’ve called ‘identity’ politics as too parochial in terms of looming global climate disaster. It’s a real tension, with very different emphases between local and global; material issues vs idealism. As radical movements, both the Black and the Green have their roots in 1960s political consciousness and activism. But there were key cultural moments when they came together, around the release of Marvin Gaye’s classic 1971 album ‘What’s Going On’ and in the work of eco-conscious, Black Power spoken word group The Last Poets. Both artists addressed environmental racism within the ghetto and the promise of a new Black ecology. By drawing on his Jamaican lineage, Weyland explores the deeper affinity between the Black and the Green, symbolically joined by the Jamaican national flag, the Black of the People and the Green of the land are inseparable, crossed by the Gold of the sun. But Jamaica and the Caribbean are also highly vulnerable to the devastation of climate change. Weyland writes: ‘As the climate catastrophe becomes worse, the effect it is having on our homelands is something affecting Black people uniquely. With the face of climate activism being so predominantly white, and with Black political attention elsewhere, which voices will be heard?" This feature explores the differences and reasons for separation of the movements, but asks if there might be a growing alignment between the Black and the Green with new thinking around ‘climate justice’. Contributors include founding member of the Last Poets Abiodun Oyewole, barrister and author Ulele Burnham, Professor Michael Taylor, a climate scientist at the University of the West Indies, theatre maker and actor Fehinti Balogun, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Dr Gail Bradbury, Black Lives Matter organiser Adam Elliott-Cooper, journalist Greg McKenzie, author on climate justice Jeremy Williams and Kevin Le Gendre, who has written extensively on the history of Black music. Produced by Simon Hollis A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4
  • The Hidden History of the Window
    Rachel Hurdley opens the window on an architectural feature which reveals a story of conflict, hierarchy, status and ventilation. The history of windows in our homes begins with simple openings, designed to let in some light and air but small enough to protect the occupants from intruders. Glass was rare and expensive so only the wealthiest could afford to show off their affluence with a display of glazed windows. But, as the technology of glass making developed, windows became larger and made a statement about sophistication and modernity. Rachel traces the history of the window from the arrow loops of Chepstow Castle to the massive plate glass windows of the 20th century and beyond. She visits Gloucester Cathedral to admire a stained glass window which was said to be the largest in the world when it was created and discovers how its design reinforced the medieval social order. Rachel also goes back to the 1590s to find out why Hardwick Hall was described as ‘More Glass Than Wall’ and how its many windows were used to show off wealth and status. She discovers how department stores with their tempting window displays brought about social change and played a part in female liberation and she considers why windows suddenly got so much bigger in the early years of the 20th century. Along the way, Rachel hears from the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, about how his lockdown window provided poetic inspiration and she reflects on the central question of the window – are we inside looking out or outside looking in? Interviewees: Sonia Solicari, Director of The Museum of the Home - Jonathan Glancey, Architectural Writer and Historian Kate Roberts, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Cadw speaking at Chepstow Castle Celia Thomson, Canon Chancellor of Gloucester Cathedral - Denise Edwards, General Manager of Hardwick Hall - Deborah Sugg Ryan, Professor of Design History at Portsmouth University David Scott, Tenant at The Homewood - Simon Armitage, The Poet Laureate Presenter: Rachel Hurdley Producer: Louise Adamson Executive Producer: Samir Shah A Juniper Connect production for BBC Radio 4
  • Lights Out: Kaleidoscope
    Part of the 'Lights Out' series, documentary adventures that encourage you to take a closer listen. What does it feel like to be a child or teenager navigating the ups and downs of youth, under the shadow of constant media scrutiny about your identity, your choices and whether you fit into society? Transgender kids and teenagers are often spoken about in the media, but rarely get the chance to speak for themselves. In this episode of Lights Out, three young trans people, aged 10, 15 and 16, let us into their inner worlds. Their mums share how media scrutiny of their families affects their lives and an academic in media studies and queer theory reflects on how the media constructs narratives about marginalised groups, exploring why queer people and children are easy targets for moral panic. Produced by Arlie Adlington A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
  • Teen Spirit: Nevermind at 30
    On the 30th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind, leading figures from music, literature, fashion, and activism reflect on the impact it had on their lives. Presenter Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, explores how his own work is entwined with the album’s history. In the early 90s, Douglas Coupland, like Nirvana, was at the vanguard of a new movement that valued individualism and freedom. In 1991, the music industry had modest ambitions for a second album from Seattle three-piece rock group Nirvana. Little did they know. Opening with hit single Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind was a politically radical, powerful package of pop and punk music that made the grunge genre world-famous. The album knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the US charts, eventually selling 30 million copies. It made Kurt Cobain an icon. Though released on a major label, the record redefined the notion of independent spirit for a generation. Musician Bat For Lashes talks about processing troubling teenage experiences through her Nirvana fandom. Actor Zawe Ashton reveals that grunge directly inspired her character of Vod in sitcom Fresh Meat. Transgender activist Daniella Carter reflects on the ways the band defined her politics. Novelist Aaron Hamburger remembers how Kurt Cobain helped him come out as gay. Nevermind producer Butch Vig recalls the release changing his life overnight. Other contributors include poet Hanif Abdurraqib, author Deborah Levy, and musician and fashion expert Brix Smith. Meanwhile, a rare archive interview between Kurt Cobain and Jon Savage transports us back to the spirit of the time. Finally, folk band The Unthanks perform an exclusive cover of Nevermind closer "Something In The Way". Producer: Jack Howson Additional Production: Tess Davidson and Silvia Malnati Sound Mix: Mike Woolley A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4
  • The Ballad of the Bet
    In the small hours of the night, we are up in our thousands watching a wheel spin on our phones - a roulette wheel. It may be virtual, yet for many of us it has a power beyond the real. Gambling has been spun inside down and inside out by the internet age, never more so than under lockdown. With the Gambling Act currently under review, Amy Acre brings the experience of betting alive through poetry, music and oral histories, tracing the social history of gambling over three generations. Image of Amy Acre by Jamie Cameron Sound design and original music by Jon Nicholls Vocals by Steph MacGaraidh Producer Monica Whitlock Production Coordinator Janet Staples Editor Hugh Levinson

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