Valentines 3

Sometimes a simple question is all it takes to get someone telling a story. We begin this show by asking people to tell the story of their first kiss. Every story is the same. Every story is different. After that, changes of hearts and a deeper understanding of one’s capacity to love. Then we have two glimpses into potential future realities, android love and a Valentinian Apocalypse. Have a great V Day.

Host: Rachel Hamburg

Producers: Aaron Thayer, Eme Akpabio, Claire Woodard, Charlie Mintz, Will Rogers, and Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Max McClure, Heidi Thorsen, and members of the Stanford community who told us their story in White Plaza.

Music: Daniel Steinbock, Max McClure, Fleet Street, and a spontaneous mishmash of singers who were out serenading people on the Saturday night before this story aired, in February 2009.

Release Date: 16 February 2010

Story 1: Your First Kiss

Answering our first of three questions, passersby on White Plaza tell us of their first kisses. Some kisses were awkward, some were sensational, and some were both.

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Story 2: When did you change your mind about love?

White Plazans tell of a time when they shifted their perceptions of love–sometimes shifts for the better, and often for the worse.

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Story 3: The Heart that Grew Three Sizes in One Day

White Plazans tell of a time they realized their capacity for love.

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Story 4: Falling for Androids

The first winner of our winter story contest, Max McClure, reads a story about love beyond the bounds of species. Will he find love in all the wrong places?

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Story 5: Apocalypse, February 14, 2023

Heidi Thorsen, the second winner of our story contest, posits the Valentinian Apocalypse of Love. Is this the big one?

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Hidden Roots of Rock

In a very special show, the Storytelling Project interviews the founders of the legendary Composition Blues Band, the group that has taught us just how much of Rock ‘n Roll has descended from the powerful and often traumatic experience of the writing process. We get the story behind their recovery of the true lyrics of classics by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and many more, and to hear them perform some of their biggest hits. Tune in to hear the amazing stories behind the writing and rewriting of rock ‘n roll and classics—how “Johnny Be Good” started as “Rhetor be Good” and how Dylan’s anthemic chorus in “Rainy Day Women 12 & 35” was originally “Everybody Must Use Modes”—and learn about their new, international project, a re-examination of the Old Testament that reveals just how much its writers, and indeed the entire culture of the period, wrestled with the writing process.


Host: Jonah Willihnganz

Producer: Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Marvin Diogenes, Clyde Moneyhun

Music: Composition Blues Band

Release Date: 9 March 2010


Interview, Part 1: “Painful Laughter”

The Composition Blues Band discusses how they formed, and how they came to learn about the traumatic composition background that inspired such greats as Elvis Costello and George Thorogood.

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Story 1: The Delaware Destroyer

Blues musician George Thorogood didn’t like his writing teacher, and this is a song he wrote about it.

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Story 2: “Rhetor B. Goode”

Chuck Berry’s early experiences with rhetoric, and how the blues legend came to write his most famous song.

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Story 3: “Ever Since my Plato Left Me”

If Chuck Berry is Plato, then Elvis Presley is Aristotle, wrestling with the duality of rhetoric. Is it good? Is it evil? This is a song about that place of confusion.

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Story 4: “Three to Five Sources”

Sure the Rolling Stones could write songs about girls, but could they write songs about writing? Their hit “Wild Horses,” as the Composition Blues Band tells us, isn’t about love. It’s about writing a research essay.

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Interview, Part Two “Rhet and Roll”

Many rock ‘n roll songs have a spooky prescience. Mick and Keith could reference the internet before it was even invented. The Composition Blues Band talks about what they call the Cosa Nostradamus effect.

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Story 5: “Everybody Must Use Modes”

Bob Dylan, while he was writing the folk songs that made him famous, was at the same time earning his degree in Rhetoric and Composition at NYU. When he was first asked to direct a writing program, he was still a formalist, obsessed with the rhetorical modes. This is a song about that.

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Story 6: “¿Cuantas Palabras?”

The Composition Blues Band takes their exploration of the hidden roots of rock outside the English canon. Because when it comes to the universal experience of rhetoric and composition, language is no barrier, as this song shows.

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Interview, Part Three: The Future of the Composition Blues Band

The forms of composition are found in the great creations of mankind. For example: the pyramids. But is the essay more like a proper pyramid, or an inverted pyramid? The general to the specific, or the specific to the general? It’s an argument that has roiled civilizations from the beginning of time. The Composition Blues Band takes on this and other controversies in the last part of their interview.

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Story 7: “Comma, Comma”

Rock legend Ritchie Valens had a monograph about commas in progress at the time of his unfortunate death. Born out of trauma, but rising above it, this last song is a testament to the power of music, and the deep role that composition plays in all our lives.

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Medium Food

We’re all talking about our relationship to food lately, thanks to everyone from Michael Pollan to Oprah (even Michael Pollan on Oprah). Fast food, slow food, smart food, food miles, food pyramids, food security. Yes, we’re joining the fray, but turning the tables a bit to look at how food and food movements are a medium for forms of change—personal, social and otherwise—especially in the big city, where we so often rely on others for our food. We take the show to San Francisco, visiting the foggy gardens of the Sunset and the sunny fruit stands of the Mission, and even the rooftops in the Tenderloin. We talk to a new breed of urban farmer and we meet an earth scientist, a chef, a Salvadorian emigrant, a city rat, a country mouse, and a whole class of third graders. In our last segment we return to Stanford to find out how students are changing their own relationship to the their environment through our new favorite medium, food.

Host: Natacha Ruck

Producers: Natacha Ruck, Charlie Mintz

Music: Bibio, Alessandro Ricciarelli, Gerd Baumann, Ken Grobe

Featuring: Page Chamberlain, Susannah Poland, Caitlin Brown, Maya Donelson, Rebecca Alonzi, Tree, Suzi Palladino

Links: Garden for the Environment, Graze the Roof, The Free Farm Stand, Stanford Gleaning Project, Glean Map

Release Date: 2 March 2010


Story 1: It’s not Just about Food

The physical experience of farming took host Natacha Ruck back to a memory of her childhood. It also triggered an epiphany about what food and food movements mean today.

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Story 2: The Garden on the Rooftop

In one of San Francisco’s toughest neighborhoods, tender shoots are growing on the rooftops of the Tenderloin. By tender shoots we mean fifth graders, who are learning to grow and prepare their own food.

Featuring: Maya Donelson, Rebecca Alonzi


Story 3: The Rhythms of Nature and the Beat of the City

We visit the Garden for the Environment to experience how the rhythms of the natural world can jive the beat of an urban landscape.

Featuring: Suzi Palladino


Story 4: The Free Farm Stand

Urban farmers in the Mission District in San Francisco are trying to create a new kind of exchange with their neighbors using brussels sprouts, salsa and seedlings.

Featuring: Tree


Story 5: The Savvy Gleaner

In which we visit a farm, or rather, the Farm. It’s easy to forget that Stanford actually produces its own bounty of edible fruits and vegetables. You just have to know where to look.

Featuring: Susannah Poland, Caitlin Brown


Story 6: A Society of Abundance

We return to the man who started this hour, Page Chamberlain, a professor in the School of Earth Sciences, at Stanford. He tells us what the food movement is really about.

Featuring: Professor Page Chamberlain

Off the Pedestal

What happens when we put people on pedestals? And what happens when we take them off? Host Killeen Hanson interviews her father about his estranged father. Andrew Altschul exposes the ordinariness of rock-stars in an excerpt from his novel Lady Lazarus. Lee Konstantinou interviews Arnold Rampersad about his biography of Ralph Ellison; his question is not “What kept Ellison from publishing anything after Invisible Man?” but rather, “How did this author climb onto that pedestal in the first place?”



Host: Killeen Hanson

Producers: Killeen Hanson, Noah Burbank, Lee Konstantinou

Featuring: Brent Hanson, Andrew Altschul, Arnold Rampersad

Music: Noah Burbank

Release Date: 16 February 2010

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Story 1: Dad meets Dad

Killeen Hanson interviews her father about reuniting with his father, who disappeared fifty years earlier.
Featuring: Brent Hanson
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Story 2: Excerpt from Lady Lazarus

Andrew Altschul reads from his book, Lady Lazarus, which follows the life of Calliope, the daughter of two devastatingly famous rock musicians.



Story 3: Invisible Man’s Human-ness

We talk to a professor of American Literature about his latest book, a biography of Ralph Ellison, and the challenging task of writing about the life of a literary legend.
Featuring: Arnold Rampersad


Childhood is a funny thing, especially since that window we call adolescence keeps getting longer and longer. When do we stop being children, and when do we become adults? We bring you an hour of radio built from a creative writing Stanford class–stories of growing up, not growing up and the moments that stick with us the most.


Host: Hannah Krakauer

Producer: Hannah Krakauer

Featuring: Michelle Goldring, Lexie Spiranac, Sarah Grossman, Jeff Bauman, Chrystal Lee

Music: Nataly Dawn

Release Date: 23 February 2010

image via flickr


Story 1: The Fuzziness

It’s easy enough to look at a person and decide for them whether he or she is a child or an adult, but is it always so easy to tell with ourselves? What does it even mean to be a grown-up? First, a story about the blurry, perhaps undesirable transitions between childhood and adulthood.

Author: Michelle Goldring

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Story 2: Kick the Other Person as Hard as You Can

Some growing pains happen when your bones get bigger. Some growing pains happen when your opponent kicks you as hard as she can. Our next story is about growing pains of the second kind. It’s also about corruption, Tae Kwon Do, and yelps.

Author: Lexie Spiranac

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Story 3: My Family Held a Meeting on My Ability to Think

After giving up sports, Sarah began playing music with her brothers every night. Beatles’ songs, everyone on a different instrument, and Sarah on vocals. It was the start of a bonding between the siblings. But it was a bonding that went too far, and it started to worry her family.

Author: Sarah Grossman

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Story 4: The Order is Invariable

If there’s one thing we have control over growing up, it’s our bedrooms. We decorate, arrange, rearrange, and sometimes even try to paint. But there is another approach to making your room–and your life–your own. Some call it OCD, Jeff Bauman calls it peace.

Author: Jeff Bauman


Story 5: Leave the Bears Alone

Admit it. You had stuffed animals when you were a kid. When did you give them up? Was it too late? Embarrassingly late? Well, no matter when it was, chances are you didn’t have a relationship with your stuffed animals the way the narrator of our next story did.

Author: Chrystal Lee

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Story 6: What Sundresses Say

Our next story is about what it’s like to be fixated on style. How do you live a life devoted to following fashion trends? What does it do to you, and is it worth it?

Author: Emily Vogel

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Story 7: If My Dog Finds Out He’ll Kill My Wife

Our last story is comic piece about studying abroad, growing up, and trying to find an identity at college. For reasons we appreciate, but can’t quite fathom, it’s told in the voice of a 30s private eye.

Author: Billy Kemper

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