On the Radio

Along with writing about my heroes in children’s books, I broadcast commentaries about my favorite historical figures on public radio. Here’s a sampling.

 

Harry Houdini in chains

Harry Houdini, Self-Liberator
The magician escaped not just from handcuffs, but from poverty and oppression.
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Bob Dylan album cover

Bob Dylan Slept Here
The secret history of a seemingly ordinary street.
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Elvis plaque

Elvis Presley’s Rock and Roll Miracle
The singer brought peace to a troubled street corner in 1977.
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Duke Ellington at the piano

Duke Ellington’s Favorite State
The jazz composer found a spiritual home in Wisconsin.
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The Beatles

The Beatles’ Crazy Day in Milwaukee
On September 4, 1964, the band challenged local police, sparred with reporters, and reached out to an ailing fan.
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Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson’s Best Friend in Sheboygan
The baseball star’s bond with a young fan brings hope for racial harmony.
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photo_chordettes

The Chordettes Make the 1950s ‘Peachy’
The vocal quartet wowed them at the malt shop with pop gems like “Lollipop” and “Mr. Sandman.”

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photo_roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt Defies Death
A would-be assassin’s bullet was no match for the self-proclaimed bull moose.
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Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln Spends the Night
Janesville, Wisconsin, still remembers the future president’s brief but colorful visit.
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Orson Welles on the microphone

Martians Land in the U.S.!
How Orson Welles caused a national panic with “War of the Worlds.”
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How to Be a Hero, Jim Lovell-Style
The astronaut provides a lesson doing extraordinary things.
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Otis Redding

Otis Redding for Children
Can the legendary soul singer teach an infant to love music?
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Woody Herman

Woody Herman’s Blue Flame
It’s time to give the playful bandleader his due.
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Joan Wildman

Improvisation as a Way of Life
Jazz pianist Joan Wildman blows up time and space.
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Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly Up Close
The rock and roll pioneer communes with fans on his final tour.
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Richard Davis

Richard Davis, Bassist Extraordinaire
The legendary musician creates a jazz mecca 1,000 miles from New York City.
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Les Paul and his guitar

The Wizard of Waukesha
Les Paul works wonders on a homemade guitar.
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Hank Aaron

Big Star in a Small Town
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, had never seen the likes of Hank Aaron.
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merkle

Redeeming Fred Merkle
A small town champions a baseball player notorious for one spectacular error.
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Orson Welles

Meet the Genius, Age 10
Orson Welles began his rise to fame as a fourth grader obsessed with acting out.
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Bob Dylan’s Long-Lost Ode
In 1961, the young singer-songwriter penned a love letter to one of his favorite places.
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Harrison Ford

Next Stop, ‘Star Wars’
How Harrison Ford overcame stage fright and discovered himself as an actor.
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Pedro Guerrero: The Photographer as Storyteller
The man who created the definitive images of Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture.
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Dairy State Blues

Dairy State Blues
A Wisconsin furniture company produced some of the 20th century’s most important music.
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farley

How Chris Farley Made Us Laugh
For all is wildness, he had a heart.
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Bunny Berigan

‘I Can’t Get Started’ Casts a Spell
Jazz trumpeter Bunny Berigan is remembered for only one song, but it’s a doozy.
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