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Listening to America

Listening to America

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Listening to America aims to “light out for the territories,” traveling less visited byways and taking time to see this immense, extraordinary country with fresh eyes while listening to the many voices of America’s past, present, and future. Led by noted historian and humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, Listening to America travels the country’s less visited byways, from national parks and forests to historic sites to countless under-recognized rural and urban places. Through this exploration ...
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Guest host David Horton of Virginia leads a discussion with Clay Jenkinson about the difference between Constitutional requirements and what are called presidential norms. George Washington, for example, did not shake hands with the American people. He held formal levees once a week. Jefferson regarded those as monarchical habits and he performed a…
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Clay Jenkinson and guest host David Horton discuss the history of executive orders. Even though they are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution, every president except William Henry Harrison has issued at least one. David and Clay review the most important executive orders in American history: the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; the Japanese in…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular contributor Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky for a spirited conversation about Margaret Bayard Smith, one of Thomas Jefferson’s greatest admirers. Mrs. Smith, who was 35 years younger than Jefferson, was the wife of the editor of the National Intelligencer, the first Washington, D.C. newspaper. Her letters and journals, pr…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to talk about one of the strangest and most extraordinary people of America’s Early National Period, John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia. Randolph was a brilliant and flamboyant man, hairless with the voice of a soprano and locked physically in a pre-pubescent state. Yet he was a brill…
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Clay is joined by Dr. Kurt Kemper of Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, and our west coast Enlightenment correspondent David Nicandri. Both are deeply interested in American sports, both for the sport per se, but also for the window they provide on the larger dynamics of American life. This week’s topics: outsized college coach salar…
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Clay is joined by two guests, David Nicandri the West Coast Enlightenment correspondent for Listening to America and Dr. Kurt Kemper of Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota. Kemper is the author of College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era. Kemper and Nicandri believe that larger themes in American culture find expressio…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay Jenkinson’s follow-up conversation with Russ Eagle of Salisbury, North Carolina, about following the trail of John Steinbeck. Russ is a former high school teacher and administrator with a vast love of the writer. After his report on the arrival of Steinbeck’s heralded boat, the Western Flyer, in Monterey, we …
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Clay talks with Jeremy Gill of Hays, Kansas, about former Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace served several presidential administrations, some Republican but more Democrat. He was FDR’s New Deal Secretary of Agriculture, then FDR’s vice president in his third term, 1940-1944. The Democrats dropped Wallace as too radical in 1944, nominating Harry…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay’s conversation with Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about two of the greatest of the Founders, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson knew of Hamilton’s war heroics and his importance as aide-de-camp to George Washington, but he didn’t actually meet Hamilton until the spring of 1790 when they were two of t…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay Jenkinson interviews professional photographers John and Coleen Graybill of Buena Vista, Colorado, about the life and achievement of Edward S. Curtis. Curtis took 40,000 dry glass plate photographs of Native Americans between 1900 and 1935, and published 20 volumes of his portraits, landscape photographs, mus…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with occasional guest host David Horton about the origins of the Thomas Jefferson Hour and the purpose of changing the name and focus of the program to Listening to America. Clay sings the praises of two hosts, Bill Crystal, now of Virginia, and David Swenson of Makoche Recording Studios in Bismarck, North D…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky: Ten Things about the Louisiana Purchase. In the spring of 1803 Napoleon sold the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States for three cents per acre. At 525 million acres, or 828,000 square miles, it was the greatest land sale in human h…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with guest host David Horton about three remarkable moments in American history between administrations. First, the tragedy of Meriwether Lewis, who got caught between the outgoing administration of his mentor Thomas Jefferson and the incoming administration of President James Madison, who was no admirer of …
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with fellow Steinbeck scholar Russ Eagle of North Carolina about the relaunch of the Western Flyer, the boat that took Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts, Steinbeck’s wife Carol, and four others to the Sea of Cortez in the spring of 1940. After eighty years the Western Flyer has been completely refurbished and now takes…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guests Lindsay Chervinsky and David Nicandri to discuss the most overrated and underrated Presidents in American history, present company excluded. We evaluate the 46 presidencies, not the overall character or achievement. Woodrow Wilson does not fare well, but Richard Nixon has considerable support, in spite of …
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This week, Clay’s conversation with favorite guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. All ratified between December 1865 and February 1870, these three key amendments are in some respects the second founding of the United States. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The 14th insisted on equal…
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This week, Clay’s conversation with Enlightenment correspondent David Nicandri about four subjects: Ken Burns’ documentary on the buffalo; the solar eclipse of Saturday, October 15; a new book by former Secret Service Agent Paul Landis about the Kennedy assassination — Landis actually tampered with the evidence in the presidential limo, and now, at…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the creation of the Constitution in the summer of 1787. What did they get right, what did they get wrong, and which issues did they simply kick down the road? Was the true divide between big states and little states, or as James Madison said, between slave states and free st…
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Guest host David Horton of Radford University talks with Clay Jenkinson about Ken Burns' latest documentary, The American Buffalo, which premiers on PBS on October 16. Clay has now been in five of Ken Burns' documentaries, and has been one of the historical advisers in two of the films. Among the topics of discussion: Who was William Hornaday and w…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s interview with Dr. Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute about how we can turn America around from this funk of profound disillusionment and cynicism. Dr. Levin is the author of many books, the most recent of which is A Time to Build: How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream. As the U…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with actor Steven Duchrow about taking on historical characters. Steven has been performing as the poet Vachel Lindsay for many years, but now he is taking on the character of the poet Carl Sandburg. Where do you start? How do you figure out what has to be in any performance whether it is five minutes long o…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the agony and ecstasy of writing a book. Among the topics: Do you do all the research before you start to write or just begin and research as you go along? How do you pace yourself and not burn out? How do you know if the book is any good? What do you do to power through the…
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This week, guest host David Horton of Radford University returns to engage Clay Jenkinson about the plans and purposes of Listening to America. Why the name change on the highly successful Jefferson Hour? What will the new program title enable Clay to explore over the next decade? Did the New Enlightenment Radio Network change the name because Jeff…
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