135 - Deep Fried Fuel - A Biodiesel Kitchen Vision - Celebrating Over the Road
In celebration of truckers everywhere and of Radiotopia’s new show Over the Road, The Kitchen Sisters visit some of their favorite Texas pitstops. First up — a truck stop in Carl’s Corner, Texas off I 35 between Dallas and Austin where Willie Nelson first introduced his BioWillie fuel in 2004.
Willie’s friend, Carl Cornelius, founded Carl’s Corner in the early 1980s in order to sell liquor in a mostly dry county. He opened up a truck stop —a trucker’s haven and tourist attraction —with hot tubs, dancing girls and 10 foot high dancing frogs atop the pumps. In 1987 Willie held his legendary 4th of July Picnic at Carl’s Corner. But a few years later, following a fire and some set major backs, the place fell on hard times. That’s where our story begins…with Willie Nelson bringing in BioWillie biofuel to save Carl’s Corner Truck Stop. We hear from Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Carl Cornelius, Joe Nick Potaski, truckers and biodiesel disciples. And we visit a bio-diesel home brew class, where recipes are shared on how to make your own, in a blender, the kitchen way.
Next stop — Fuel City, downtown Dallas—with its long horn cattle, oil well, waterfalls, bikini clad “pool models,” DJs, and the best Texas tacos for miles around. Robin Wright talks about her family in Venus,Texas. And we visit the Conoco gas station and it’s gourmet Chef Point Cafe in Watauga, Texas.
133 - WHER - 1000 Beautiful Watts, The First All-Girl Radio Station in the Nation
When Sam Phillips sold Elvis’ contract in 1955 he used the money to start an all-girl radio station in Memphis, TN. Set in a pink, plush studio in the nation’s third Holiday Inn, it was a novelty—but not for long. He hired models, beauty queens, actresses, telephone operators. Some were young mothers who just needed a job. WHER was the first radio station to feature women as more than novelties and sidekicks. The WHER girls were broadcasting pioneers. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, Vietnam, and the death of Martin Luther King—the story of WHER follows the women who pioneered in broadcasting as they head into one of the most dramatic and volatile times in the nation’s history. “WHER was the embryo of the egg,” said Sam Phillips. “We broke a barrier. There was nothing like it in the world.”
This encore broadcast of one of the stories closest to our radio hearts is in honor of the women of WHER who have passed on since we interviewed them twenty years ago—Becky Phillips, Marge Thrasher, Janie Joplin, and Bettye Berger who passed on to that big radio station in the sky just last week.
Bettye was a pistol. A beautiful, blonde, smart, savvy business woman, she was one of the first WHER disc jockettes—hired by Sam Phillips in 1955. Later in her career she became an artist manager and booking agent—one of the few women in the field in the 1950s and 60s. She formed her own company—Continental Talent Agency representing stars like Charlie Rich, William Bell, Ivory Joe Hunter. She launched her own record label, Bet T. Records, in 1959. And she was a songwriter—writing songs for Ivory Joe Hunter and Rufus Thomas. Bettye was a pioneer in broadcasting and in the history of Memphis rock and roll and soul. She will be missed.
133 - Theaster Gates — Keeping the South Side
The Archive House, The Listening House, The Stony Island Arts Bank, The Dorchester Projects. Theaster Gates is a keeper of Greater Grand Crossing, his neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He first encountered creativity in the music of Black churches on his journey to becoming an urban planner, potter, and artist. Gates creates sculptures with clay, tar, and renovated buildings, transforming the raw material of urban neighborhoods into radically reimagined vessels of opportunity for and of the community. Gates resurrects old dilapidated neighborhood buildings, transforming them into living archives, institutes of music, culture, film and gathering, preserving and renewing neighborhoods that have been ignored, overlooked and underserved. The proceeds of these unusual, imaginative endeavors are used to finance the rehabilitation of entire city blocks and the communities that inhabit them.
This story was produced by Alyia Renee Yates in collaboration with The Kitchen Sisters.
132 - The Pancake Years
For five years Davia’s father, Lenny Nelson, asked her to go to Rattlesden, England, to visit the Air Force base where he was stationed during WWII and to find an old photograph hanging in the town pub honoring his 8th Air Force squadron. It was still there, over 50 years later, he told her. Finally, one fine Sunday, Davia headed out in search of the pub and a piece of her father’s past—the piece he was proudest of.
Lenny died on Christmas Eve 2015. In his honor, we share the journey with you.
Samuel Shelton Robinson helped produce this story with The Kitchen Sisters. He’s from London. It seemed only right.
131 - Night of the Living Intern: First Stories from Kitchen Sisters Interns
Since we started our intern and mentoring program in 2000, over 100 young people, ranging from age 15 to 35, have come through our doors at Kitchen Sisters Central in the historic Zoetrope building in San Francisco to work on the art and craft of audio storytelling. Many have stayed long enough to helm their own pieces and produce their first ever stories in collaboration with us. They never fail to shock and amaze. Their takes are varied, their styles singular, their voices original and provocative.
About 8 years ago we had an especially eccentric group. They somehow all found their way to us in the same moment — Matt Beagle who was a stand-up comic, Patty Fung, Tess Kenner, Caroline Bins, Anne Wootton, Madalyn Fernandez, Julia DeWitt… the place was on fire. Matt was doing stand-up at the Purple Onion, the revered comedy club across the street from our North Beach office that once hosted Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Phyllis Diller, Richard Pryor… and everyone was going to see him. We began to envision a night of all these talented, funny, emerging producers and storytellers live onstage in an evening we would call “The Kitchen Sisters Present… Night of the Living Intern.”
It happened. But only in our minds. The Purple Onion closed, the interns moved on to their first jobs and places on the staffs of some of the major news and story organizations in the country, and the evening remained a dream. Until today.
This past year Josh Gross, a high school senior, took our workshop and then started showing up one, two, three times a week after school. Watching Josh and the group of interns in the room with him kicked up Night of the Living Intern once again and as Josh’s internship drew to a close we asked him to dig through some of the stories Kitchen Sisters interns had produced in the past and create a podcast. Today’s piece features excerpts from "The Queen’s Beekeeper," produced by Justine Thieriot; "21 Collections" and "Agnes Varda: Keep Faith in Art" produced in collaboration with Selene Ross; "Jason Scott: Free Range Archivist" by Juliet Gelfman Randazzo; a piece about the Israeli artist/archivist, Hadassa Goldvicht and a story called "The Other F Word" by Josh Gross.