Us & Them

Podcast

Us & Them is a new podcast exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Peabody Award winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on cultural issues.

Us & Them is a joint project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, PRX and Trey Kay Productions.

You can subscribe to Us & Them on iTunes, NPR OneRadioPublicSpotifyStitcher and beyond. 

This project has been made possible through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the West Virginia Humanities Council, the CRC Foundation and the Daywood Foundation.

In this episode, I reconnect with Dimitri Mugianis, a friend that I met nearly a quarter century ago when we were both playing in the New York City music scene. He was the front man of a fantastic band called “Leisure Class.”  Dimitri was a dynamic performer, charismatic, poetically eloquent and brimming with the energy of a possessed mad man.  He also had a pernicious heroin addiction.

Us & Them: Femme Voice

Feb 29, 2016

  Back in the fall of 2014, I read an article in the Gazette about, Anne Kelly Skinner, a Charleston lawyer -- formerly Greg Skinner -- who was transitioning from male to female.  The story piqued my interest because having grown up as a son, nephew, brother and friend of many of Charleston’s attorneys, I knew with almost absolute certainty that this was new territory for many in that Kanawha Valley legal community.  I expected that I’d produce a story that would be about the tension of transitioning in a conservative “old boy” community, but we didn’t end up talking about any of that stuff. What we ended up talking about… was the way Anne talks.

Us & Them: Shack!

Feb 5, 2016

The 2016 Super Bowl was the 7th time in the history of the game that an African American had started at the quarterback position. This podcast tells the story of the civil rights struggle of African Americans advancing at the quarterback position in the NFL.  James “Shack” Harris was the first black player in history of NFL to earn a job as starting quarterback.

Trey Kay

On Friday, January 22nd, I was in New York City preparing to head to West Virginia. So was a blizzard called Jonas.

The blizzard that took the East Coast by storm hadn’t hit by the time I rolled into in Harrisburg, PA.  I was assured by meteorologists that I shouldn’t try driving down I-79 to Charleston, but that I could make it to Pittsburgh without encountering snow. This podcast tracks my experience on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Bedford and Somerset exits and the TWENTY-SEVEN AND A HALF hours I remained there, trapped in snow.

The crisis of people flooding out of war torn Middle Eastern countries and taking refuge in Europe has become a hot culture war topic in America.  Should we help these people?  What about the possibility of terrorist being imbedded in this group?

For this episode, I reached out to my Facebook friends to hear their thoughts on the alleged “War on Christmas.” Is this a real thing? 

Us & Them: Islamophobia

Dec 14, 2015

Are you afraid of Muslims? Not just those in ISIS - but the ones who live among us?

One Christian friend of ours is so worried, he refused to meet with Muslims over biscuits at Bob Evans as part of our "Us & Them" podcast.

Us & Them: Atheists

Nov 16, 2015

Throughout our nation’s history, it’s not uncommon for presidential candidates to reference the Bible to demonstrate their religious and specifically, Christian credentials.  Democrats and Republicans both do this, from John F. Kennedy defending against critics of his Catholic faith to fundamentalist Christian GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who said that a person who “doesn’t begin his days on his knees” isn’t fit to be president.

Us & Them: Enemies

Nov 6, 2015

This episode was inspired after watching one of the early Democrat Presidential Debates, when Hillary Clinton identified Republicans as her enemy.  We thought: Does she really consider half of America as her enemy?

Prior to 1962, sodomy was considered a felony in every state, punished by a long prison term. However, the sex acts that were considered sodomy were targeted towards persons of the same sex.

 

In the summer of 2015, Us & Them was approached by two American-born journalists, Roopa Gogineni (who grew up in Charleston and graduated from my alma mater George Washington High School) and Mike Onyiego.  

For years, these two have been based in East Africa reporting on the civil war conflicts simmering there.  From that part of the world, they were fascinated with the news reports about the mass shooting at a Bible study group at a Baptist church in Charleston, SC. and the subsequent call from many to take down Confederate flags and monuments that were on display in southern cities.

Strangers with Cameras in Appalachia
Us & Them

I grew up in Appalachia.

Okay, I didn’t come from the kind of Appalachia that’s often associated with the stereotype of ignorant, welfare check-collecting “hicks” living “up the holler.”  I grew up in Charleston, WV, which is and was much like “Suburban Anywhere, USA.”

Us & Them: New Math

Sep 8, 2015
Us & Them

Kind of like the controversial Common Core Curriculum Standards for Mathematics today, “New Math” was the raspberry seed in many people’s dentures back in the '60s and '70s. 

In this episode, I dig into one of my favorite culture war subjects: the battles in Texas over education.

For years, I’ve had a fascination with the fights Texans have had over education curriculum and textbooks.  This interest started with my research of the 1974 Kanawha County textbook controversy. 

When researching the events in Kanawha, I saw that a Texas couple named Mel and Norma Gabler came to Charleston to lend support to the textbook protesters.  At that point, the Gablers – a Mom and Pop team from Longview, TX – had more than a decade of experience of performing intensive reviews of public school textbooks.  Overtime, the couple would have a huge impact on what got into `– not just in Texas, but around the country.   

Logo courtesy of Mark Lerner

For this show, I spoke with journalist Linda K. Wertheimer, the author of Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion In an Age of Intolerance.  In her book, she has a chapter titled “The Church Lady,” where she recounts her experience of her family moving from western New York to a town in Ohio.  The Wertheimer’s were the only Jews in that community.  Linda and her brother felt confused and ostracized when a lady came to their classroom each week to lead a class that felt less like social studies and more like Sunday school.  Linda recalls all of her classmates singing, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me,” but she was the only one who didn’t know the words.

For this show, I speak with two men with very different perspectives on science.  They feel so strongly about their opinions that they are willing to put their money where their mouths are.   They each are offering a cash prize to anyone who can disprove their scientific theory.

In this episode, my friend Alice Moore and I visit a Confederate cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi.  Alice tells me about her love for the battle flag.

Us & Them

In this program, I speak with Dr. Michael Ross, who’s chair of the University of Minnesota’s program for Sexual Health Education in the department of family medicine.  He says so much of sexual health education is devoted to adolescents and maybe a more effective way to teach young people is to better educate adults. 

Ross believes the best way to do this is to require health care professionals to have better training in sexual health education.  He says one of the reasons the public is poorly informed about sexual health is because healthcare professionals often have had poor training. 

Despite all the fuss about sex education in America, students get precious little of it. Jonathan Zimmerman, an education historian, tells Trey how Americans spend more time arguing about what kids should learn about human sexuality in schools than they actually do teaching anything about it.

When you see panhandlers on the street, what do you do? Ignore them and walk the other way? Hand them some spare change? And, how do you decide?

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