Weekend Edition Sunday

Conceived as a cross between a Sunday newspaper and CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles KuraltWeekend Edition Sunday features interviews with newsmakers, artists, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, theologians and historians. The program has covered news events from Nelson Mandela's 1990 release from a South African prison to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Weekend Edition Sunday debuted on January 18, 1987, with host Susan Stamberg. Two years later, Liane Hansen took over the host chair, a position she held for 22 years. In that time, Hansen interviewed movers and shakers in politics, science, business and the arts. Her reporting travels took her from the slums of Cairo to the iron mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula; from the oyster beds on the bayou in Houma, La., to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park; and from the kitchens of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the fall of 2011, NPR National Desk Reporter Audie Cornish began hosting the show.

Every week listeners tune in to hear a unique blend of news, features and the regularly scheduled puzzle segment with Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor of The New York Times.

Weekend Edition Sunday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States and around the globe via NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

Ṣawt musicians during a performance in Kuwait in May 2014....
The tiny, super-rich state of Qatar takes pride in its modernity, with its gleaming skyscrapers and lucrative gas fields. But it is also investing in a huge history project.

The songs our grandparents sang can tell us who we are. Here in the U.S., the Lomax family became famous in the 1930s, when they recorded America's folk music.

In other countries that are changing fast, people are also trying to hold onto their heritage. The tiny, super-rich state of Qatar takes pride in its modernity, with its gleaming skyscrapers and lucrative gas fields. But it is also investing in a huge history project.

The Qatar Digital Library began as a brainchild of the former first lady, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, and was put together with Richard Gibby from the British Library.

"Her highness Sheikha Mozah and the Qatar Foundation are very keen to put their local people in touch with their own past," Gibby says.

Last year, the library made public a digitized archive of Arab scholarship, maps and artworks, particularly from Gulf countries like Kuwait, Oman and Iraq.

The library has also compiled a music archive. Staff members collected early recordings on disks made from shellac, like this one of Kuwaiti musician Abdullah Fadhala in the 1950s.

Some of the subject matter is, perhaps, surprising these days. This singer enthusiastically praises his "whisky" — some places in the Gulf used to be less strict with the Islamic ban on alcohol than they are now; these recordings give a glimpse of how things have changed.

This is a group of Iraqi musicians playing in Cairo in 1932:

The singer, Muhammad al-Qubanshi, was Muslim, but band members were nearly all Jewish. In the early 1920s, almost half of Baghdadis were Jewish, including famous musicians like Sett Salima Murad, recorded in 1933.

By the 1950s, after the creation of Israel, most Jews had been pushed out of Iraq, and the musical traditions largely died out. Curators say this archive is preserving music that could otherwise be lost, and they're also preserving disappearing cultures. A century ago, many people in countries like Qatar and Kuwait were itinerant Bedouin or seafarers.

The above piece is from the late 1920s, a Kuwaiti musician called Mahmoud al-Kouéti. The genre is Sawt, which means voice, and it's thought to be a mix of traditional sea and desert music, combined with a new style which was percolating from Egypt.

For some people from the Gulf, the archive is a welcome reminder of a vanishing past. Author Sophia al-Maria, who grew up in Qatar's capital city of Doha, says in the early 2000s there was one shop in Doha where you could get old shellac records.

"It was like three old men sitting in a shop, with several different kinds of old phonograph[s]," she recalls. "And I had this incredible anxiety that this stuff was just all going to be lost."

Maria is half American; her family on her father's side — the Qatari side — was Bedouin. But she says within two generations in the city, they've lost many of the old skills, like how to weave tents. She also says they've become much more conservative — and keeping an eye on the past can remind people that that's a recent development.

"I have a book, called Arabian Time Machine, from like 1971," she says. "And women are photographed in that book with [hair styled in] beehives, a woman walking through the souk in a miniskirt."

Maria isn't sure many young Qataris will pay attention to the archive — they're more interested in the World Cup football tournament set to be held there in 2022. But she likes that it's there. It's like a "sleeper cell of knowledge," she says. "Someday, people will find it and it will matter."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

From left, Videofreex David Cort, Bart Friedman and Parry Teasdale filmed ki...
In the pre-digital age, shooting video was unwieldy and expensive. But in the late 1960s, storytellers calling themselves "Videofreex" used the first portable video recorders to film a changing world.

Back in the pre-digital era — when telephones were used for talking, not photographing and filming, and before YouTube came along to broadcast everyone's videos — capturing and disseminating moving images was expensive, time consuming and decidedly non-portable.

But that changed in 1967, when Sony introduced the world's first portable video tape recorder. Before long, enthusiasts formed "media collectives" that captured the social and cultural upheaval of the era. Fueled by a mix of the tunes, the tokes and the times, video became part of the revolution it was documenting.

One of the first media collectives called itself "Videofreex." It's the subject of a documentary and a new exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York in New Paltz.

The Freex Are Born

Parry Teasdale and David Cort, two of the Videofreex founders, met at the Woodstock music festival, where each had arrived in 1969 with video gear in hand.

"I had some very clunky, old surveillance equipment, really, and he had the first generation of portable video cameras and recorders," says Teasdale. "And so he and I decided to get together." The two agreed to turn their cameras away from the music performers and toward the revelers in the mud.

Teasdale and Cort returned to New York City and moved in together with Cort's girlfriend, Mary Curtis Ratcliff. They adopted the name Videofreex at the suggestion of a neighbor.

"What we were doing is videotaping what was of interest to us," Ratcliff says, "and it was what CBS, NBC and ABC were not videotaping — the counterculture. They had no cameras in the counterculture."

Their work caught the attention of an executive at one of those networks. CBS was cancelling the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and wanted to replace it with something more timely and contemporary. Using portable video gear the network bought for them, the Videofreex recorded demonstrations and interviewed counterculture figures, including Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies and Black Panther Fred Hampton, as well as various strangers.

"You know, if we had stopped to think and someone said, 'Do you think they're really gonna go for this?' we probably would've said, 'Well, obviously not,' " Ratcliff recalls. "But we didn't even let that stop us, we just went for it."

The finished program was called Subject to Change and Videofreek Skip Blumberg remembers screening the pilot for a group of "freex" ("We were high," he says), their friends and CBS executives ("They weren't high"). The network declined to pick up the program.

"They sat there evaluating this show, which was kind of a mess, I admit," Blumberg says. "This was, like, so far removed from what CBS was doing. So I was not disappointed that we didn't replace the Smothers Brothers."

Lanesville TV

Still, the Videofreex got to keep the equipment and continued to show their work in their Manhattan loft on Friday nights. But it wasn't sustainable. Fortunately for them, the New York State Council on the Arts made grants available for video projects outside the city. In 1971, the collective migrated upstate to a huge former boarding house in Lanesville, a small town in the Catskills.

At first, Blumberg recalls, locals were "somewhat suspicious about these long-haired, alternate-culture types living all together in this big house."

"But after a while, because we were providing service to the community by putting people on, covering community events, they began to trust us and became our really good friends," he says. "We were turning on people to video the way people were turning people onto pot. "

In the Catskills, the Videofreex started what may have been the country's first pirate television station, Lanesville TV, using a transmitter bought for them by Abbie Hoffman. Videofreek Bart Friedman remembers it was basically public access TV.

"We got the kids to participate in the kids' programs, we covered stocking of the stream, the firehouse, local residents, car accidents, gun club dinners, things like that," Friedman says. "It was just local television."

They also filmed drama. In one video, a local woman acts out a fantasy of escaping the tedium of small-town life.

"They made hundreds and hundreds of tapes," says Andrew Ingall, the Dorsky museum show's curator. "Some are gems; some are absolute duds."

Ingall says the Videofreex collaborated with and influenced other collectives and producers across the country. One of them was filmmaker DeeDee Halleck, now professor emerita at the University of California, San Diego.

"Their house in the Catskills became a kind of hideaway for a generation of rebels such as me," Halleck says. "I really felt that this was a place that liberated the technology and enabled the kinds of learning, the kinds of self expression that could really make the change. I mean, we were very optimistic."

'Something To Be Learned'

By 1978, the group was out of funds and disbanded. Some members moved back to Manhattan. Some pursued other professions. Others continued to make video.

"I'm not so interested in Videofreex as cave drawings on the wall of video history," says Teasdale, who now publishes a newspaper in upstate New York. "This [exhibition], I hope, can be valuable to people, not because we were such a great success, but because there's something perhaps to be learned about technology and living together and working together. And if that's true, then that will make it all worthwhile."

It was also, he says, a lot of fun.

Copyright 2015 WNYC Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wnyc.org/.

The contents of Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin's junk drawer. What's in ...
When spring emerges, it's time to clean, but one place might get a pass: the junk drawer. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow says maybe that's OK.

Spring is finally here, and in the coming weeks many of us may find ourselves infected with a fever to clean. It's time to weed out your wardrobe, vacuum behind the couch, and maybe even dig into the depths of your pantry and chuck those decade-old granola bars.

But there's one place that might get a pass: the junk drawer. You know you've got one.

"Everyone has a junk drawer," says Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University.

Yarrow should know. As part of her job, she pokes around in other people's junk drawers.

"It sounds odd, but I do," she says.

People keep their necessities — scissors, tape, safety pins — and tokens of failed good intentions — a Fitbit, old Nicorette.

More interesting are the mementos people save and the stories they evoke, Yarrow says. She looks at the junk drawer as a kind of living scrapbook, and thinks maybe we should just let them go.

"People have so much fun telling me about their junk drawer," she says. "I would say get rid of some of the rubber bands, expired medicines, old coupons. In terms of having a little resting place for things that are emotionally potent — Why not!"

Last year, NPR's Linton Weeks talked about junk drawers with Yarrow and posted some from around the web. Show us what's in yours!

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.