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KUSP in the News

See the Santa Cruz Sentinel September 29th story about KUSP.

More coming soon!
Email contact for KUSP’s Interim General Manager, Lee Ferraro:
lee [at] kusp [dot] org

C. J. Sage, Guest Goet



Local poet and animal-rights advocate C. J. Sage visited the Poetry Show on August 2, 2015. She and host Dennis Morton read and discussed poetry primarily about animals. Ms. Sage edits The National Poetry Review, and has five published books:




In addition to poetry, Dennis and C.J. discussed a rescue and sanctuary center for dogs, focused especially on a group of hunting dog breeds known as “sighthounds”.  The center is run by a 501(c)3 nonprofit called Hound Sanctuary Inc. Learn more at houndsanctuary.org.

Why the Civil War Isn’t Over: David Blight and Tony Horwitz

No sooner had the nation finished celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War’s end this past spring than the Charleston massacre and confederate flag fracas reminded us that the past isn’t past and the conflicts at the heart of the war still smolder. Historian David Blight has been pointing that out for years in books such as Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. David says that America dropped the ball when it set aside Reconstruction and set about reconstructing memory itself, embracing some convenient myths and turning its back on civil rights and African Americans in the process. We talked about a legacy of lost opportunities and broken promises, willful forgetting and whitewashed history.

In part 2 of the show, Pulitzer prizewinning writer Tony Horwitz on confederate nostalgia, the “Lost Cause” tradition and Civil War revisionism. Tony explored the ways in which the war is remembered and misremembered in his 1998 bestseller Confederates in the Attic and again in a recent essay, How the South Lost the War but Won the Narrative.

Click the play arrow above to hear the interview, or the download icon on the upper right to get your own mp3. Click the share icon (the box with arrow) to embed the interview in a tweet, Facebook post, etc.

Also of interest: Our 2011 interview with Tony Horwitz, discussing his bookMidnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War.

KUSP Classical Programming: 12 Hours a Week of Remarkable Music

to a remarkable selection of hand-picked Classical programming.






Listen/Stream the full shows for one week (except for OnSite).
Click on an image to get the player on show page.

Monday – Thursday 7-9:30 p.m. / Friday 8-10 p.m.

Monday Night at the OperaMonday / Jim Emdy, Barbara Smythe
20/21 - Tuesday / Joe Truskot
Classical Tune-Up - Wednesday / Christopher Smith
Musical della seraThursday / Nicolas Michell, Meera Collier
KUSP OnSite - Friday / Robin Whitehouse

Sara Solovitch: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright

This program originally aired on The 7th Avenue Project, June 21, 2015.

“If there is an awful, horrible malady in the world,” Mark Twain wrote, “it is stage fright.” Twain is credited with coining the term, though he says he experienced the condition only once, as a fledgling public speaker. Many others haven’t been so lucky, as Sara Solovitch’s new book reminds us. Horowitz and Olivier had to be dragged bodily from their dressing rooms, fighting every inch of the way. Michael Gambon was twice hospitalized from the stress. And countless would-be performers have had careers interrupted or cut short when their nerves became too much.

'Playing Scared. A History and Memoir of Stage Fright', by Sara Solovitch. Photo: Courtesy of the author.

‘Playing Scared. A History and Memoir of Stage Fright’, by Sara Solovitch. Photo: Courtesy of the author.

Sara herself abandoned piano at 19 after years of serious study; chronic stage fright had made every concert and competition a panicky, sweat-soaked ordeal. She became a successful journalist, raised a family, and life was good. But there was still a nagging sense of unfinished business with the piano, and 30 years after running away, she took it up again, resolved to face her fear and maybe brave the stage again. She tells the story in Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright. We talked about Sara’s on-again, off-again affair with the piano, fear of failure, perfectionism and the culture of classical performance, the psychology of stage fright and some useful coping techniques (for a longer list, see Sara’s 12 Ways To Tame Stage Fright).

Kelly O’Brien and Terry Green: Time is Now to Plan KUSP’s Future

This piece also appeared  in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Sunday, May 31, 2015.

Meeting in Monterey, May 21, 2015.

Meeting in Monterey, May 21, 2015.

By Kelly O’Brien and Terry Green

Public radio depends on public support — and public participation. In the next few weeks, you will have an exceptional opportunity to shape the future of public radio in the Monterey Bay area.

Only one of the public radio stations in this region is owned by a local nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to serving the community through public media: 88.9 KUSP. And KUSP faces some critical decisions about what that public service will look like in the months and years ahead.

KUSP’s audience size is at its highest level ever, and with a month to go in our current fiscal year we have already broken our all-time record for donations from listeners (which make up about 55% of our overall budget). But these successes can’t mask some uncomfortable truths about what’s happening to the economics of local media in smaller communities like ours.

Competition for listeners’ ears has never been greater — from other AM/FM radio, from podcasts, from satellite radio and from online services like Pandora. Our business supporters have an ever-growing range of options for their marketing dollars. Government support for public broadcasting is stretched thinner every year.

Despite this financial stress, KUSP has continuously searched for ways to bring you better public radio. For many years we have advocated for collaboration among public stations that would improve the service you get by reducing duplication of programming by stations and gaining efficiency through economies of scale. Unfortunately, our efforts at bringing stations together have not been successful, and the time has come to look at a wider range of possible strategies for KUSP.

When we began looking beyond Central California for prospective collaborators, we heard from some unexpected places, including the parent organization of classical stations KDFC in San Francisco and KUSC in Los Angeles. They were interested in seeing if, by working with us, there would be ways to include Monterey Bay area listeners in what they do.

Their interest prompted us to think about whether there might be ways KUSP could meet its mission through approaches we had not seriously considered before. Our Board of Directors, made up of 13 community members from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, believed we should begin by asking our employees and volunteers whether the kind of idea floated by KDFC and KUSC was too “out of the box” for us to consider, or whether we should begin a serious exploration of what might be possible. While 81% of the group supported opening the discussion, there are voices in the community strongly opposed, and we recognize that broaching the idea at all has hit a nerve.

The start of the wider discussion has brought forth a number of interesting ideas for KUSP — some that involve bigger partners in one way or another, and some that the station would do on its own. As we bring these ideas into focus, we want to know what you think. Public meetings to discuss the ideas brought to us so far are going on now; a Santa Cruz County meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 2, at the Jack & Peggy Baskin Center for Philanthropy – Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, in Aptos. To learn more about current ideas and to review answers to frequently asked questions, please engage with KUSP at kusp.org/participate.

The time to plan the future is now, and we want your voice to be heard. Please join us.

Kelly O’Brien, KUSP President and Board Chair
Terry Green, KUSP General Manager

Album Review: Rhiannon Gidden’s Solo Debut ‘Tomorrow Is My Turn’


giddens-tomorrow-is-my-turn-450x409Rhiannon Giddens, lead singer and a founding member of the Grammy winning string band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, has just released her first solo album called “Tomorrow Is My Turn”.  It’s an impressive vocal tour de force that shows off Gidden’s superlative voice and extensive range.

Her rendition of  “Waterboy  floored the audience with in 2013 at the “Another Day, Another Time” folk concert honoring the Cohen Bros movie “Inside Lewyn Davis”.  Giddens caught the ear of T-Bone Burnett who asked to record with her and produced “Tomorrow Is My Turn” which features her percussive but strikingly updated version of “Waterboy”, a song most famously associated with Odetta.

Operatic background

Giddens , a classically trained opera singer seems quite at ease covering all genres of music. For this album, she purposely chose tracks that didn’t fit the Chocolate Drops’ M.O. picking out songs written or at least interpreted by women singer who inspired her like Elizabeth Cotton, Nina Simone, Patsy Cline. Her version of Dolly Parton’s “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” is absolutely stunning and so is her gospel prowess on Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head”.

The group of musicians Burnett picked to back Giddens on “Tomorrow Is My Turn” are also outstanding, notably fiddle player Gabe Witcher from the Punch Brothers. Chocolate Drop bandmates Hubby Jenkins and Adam Matta are also present.  The only fully composed song  is the self revealing “Angel City” penned by Giddens that gives closes the album.

Future bodes well

Rhiannon Giddens debut “Tomorrow Is My Turn” shows she has a voice to be reckoned with and the potential to become a legendary singer in her own right.  Can’t wait to see what Giddens does next. – Eric Berg



Album Review: Bill Frisell’s ‘Guitar in the Space Age’


FrisellBill Frisell’s new album, “Guitar in the Space Age” (Okeh Records) is a fun gravity free, instrumental spaced out walk into the future past. Except for two Frisell originals, all of these 14 tracks on “Space Age” harkens back to the early 60’s when satellites, sputniks, and purple people eaters hogged the transistor radios of the day.

“Pipeline”  and “Telstar” book end the album

After a first all the way through listen, starting with Frisell’s 7 minute space jam of the class surf hit, “Pipeline”, right down to the last tune, Joe Meek’s space age hit “Telstar”, I could imagine how fine it would be to listen to this record with set of headphones while circling the Earth in one of those old Mercury space capsules. Thing is, this album could use a bit more rocket fuel here and there. Frisell and fellow guitarist – steel pedal player Greg Leisz, seldom get pas the initial booster stage, preferring to lock everything in cruise control mode. Well, it is a space album, right?

Frisell is well known for themed albums – his John Lennon tribute was fabulous – but don’t expect any Los Straightjackets’ fireworks here.  “Space Age” slowly creeps up on you and makes for perfect on board space station listening. It’s Leisz outstanding pedal steel playing that gives this album it’s luster. In some ways, he over shadows Frisell as he does when he cuts loose on Link Wray’s “Rumble”.

Odd tracks

There are a couple of peculiar track choices on “Space Age”. A slow mo’ take of Brian Wilson’s “Surfer Girl”, Pete Seeger’s Brydsy “Turn, Turn, Turn” and, of all things, The Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting for You”.

It may take some adjusting to the slow pace of Frisell’s “Guitar in the Space Age”, but once you get on board with his space program, it’s a relaxing 14 track journey that warrants use of the repeat mode button and achieves a perfect “Lift Off”, which just so happens to be the title of one of two tracks this chameleon of a guitarist penned. – Eric Berg

VIDEO – This is an entire performance of Frisell and group playing the album and much more.

7th Avenue Project: Rick Doblin & MAPS: Psychedelics and Psychotherapy

Visit: 7th Avenue Project webapge.

The criminalization of psychedelic drugs in the 60s did little to halt their recreational use, but succeeded in making it nearly impossible to do legitimate research on their safety, effects and medicinal potential. Rick Doblin has spent most of his life trying to change that, and over the last 30 years, he and the organization he founded, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), have been making steady headway. After a series of successful government-authorized pilot studies on the therapeutic use of drugs like LSD, MDMA and psilocybin for a variety of psychological disorders, large-scale trials and FDA approval may soon follow. MDMA, for example, may be greenlighted for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder as early as 2021.

On today’s show, I spoke to Rick about the long road from proscription to prescription; where the previous generation of psychedelic advocates went wrong and what’s going right this time; how psychedelics might work to assist psychotherapy for PTSD, severe anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, and other conditions; and how that model differs from conventional psychopharmaceutical approaches. Also Rick talks about his own psychedelic experiences and why mind-altering drugs can be so life-altering.

Click the play arrow above to hear the interview, or the download icon on the upper right to get your own mp3.

Check out these audio extras:

Rick Doblin on psychedelics and placebos: in a placebo-controlled drug study test subjects aren’t supposed to know whether they’ve gotten the real thing or a dummy dose. That’s the whole point. But how do you pull the old switcheroo in psychedelic research, where the difference between a sugar pill and a hallucinogen is, er, noticeable? Rick discussed some novel solutions he and his colleagues have come up with.

Anthropologist, ethnobotanist and explorer Wade Davis from a recent conversation we had, on his own cross-cultural psychedelic investigations and those of his mentor, ethnobotanical trailblazer Richard Evans Schultes.

Writer Don Lattin on his book The Harvard Psychedelic Club, from our 2010 interview. I also spoke to Paul Lee, one of psilocybin-takers in the original 1962 Good Friday Experiment at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel.

Don Lattin on an earlier wave of consciousness explorers, including Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard.

7th Avenue Project: Poet & Word Warlock Michael Robbins

Visit: 7th Avenue Project website.

Michael Robbins says he wanted to be a rock star even more than a poet. His devotion to music, from rap to rock to pop and country, is audible in almost every line of his verse — not just in the lyrics he samples and remixes, but in the sonics and the syllables themselves. “Poetry for me has always been a kind of magic produced by sound,” he says, “like a spell or incantation.”

Michael’s just released his second poetry collection, The Second Sex, following up on 2012’s critical smash, Alien Vs. Predator. In this interview, he read a few selections from the new book while discussing some of the works – literary and musical – that have ensorcelled him over the years. Also, his thoughts on pop music tropes; ornamental overreach and epiphanic excess in poetry; rappers and their rhymes; faith and rationalism; and the virtuosity of Taylor Swift.

Here’s a mini-syllabus of some of the works discussed and heard in the interview: