Showcase from Radiotopia
Spacebridge, Episode 1
Producers Julia Barton and Charles Maynes uncover a little-known chapter in US-Russian relations in which DIY diplomats from both countries used satellite technology to ease Cold War tensions in the 1980s. The podcast tells the story of an unlikely group of astronauts, new agers, tech entrepreneurs, and talk show hosts who joined forces to set up “tele-links” that brought ordinary Americans and Russians together for a series of video forums. And while these “space bridges” have been largely forgotten, their legacy of opening up the Soviet Union in the ‘80s — and paving the way for the public internet in the ‘90s — is profound.
The Cosmic Frequency
From the misfit, Australian podcast/radio makers Paper Radio, we hear a story about communication before the likes of Skype and Twitter. “The Cosmic Frequency” introduces Maggie Iaquinto, an American-born Australian who, through amateur ‘ham’ radios, forged a unique relationship with the Russian cosmonauts aboard the space station Mir.
Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything
A veritable classic episode recounting Benjamen Walker’s 2011 trip to Russia as a “social media expert.” He’s flown over to Siberia to teach locals the art of online discourse, but ends up stirring up more trouble than he ever intended. Walker captures the absurdity, mayhem, and opaqueness of Russian culture in the story of his (mis)adventures in Verdunska. Also – you’ll never look at a simple lemon doughnut quite the same way again.
The Falling of the Lenins
Julia Barton’s hosts a 99PI episode from March 2017. She reports from Kiev as Ukrainians take sledgehammers to statues of Lenin, looking to erase its ties to the former Soviet state. Despite (or perhaps because of) Ukraine’s resistance to central U.S.S.R. control after WWII, they saw thousands — yes, over five thousand — statues of the Russian leader erected all around the country. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine vacillated in its allegiance to the EU and Russia – until 2013 that is, when Russia annexed the Crimea, and the rise of “Leninopod” began.
Is this an Exercise?
Finally, we hear a portrait of the first detailed visual representation of how nuclear war might devastate America. “The Day After” was shown on national TV 25 years ago, in 1983. Afteer being haunted by the film as a child, Radiotopia Executive Producer Julie Shapiro decided to re-watch along with five of her friends. The viewers recall powerful childhood memories of first watching it, and discuss how the movie has lived on in their minds - in surprisingly vivid and strange ways.