Rumble Strip

Good conversation that takes its time, hosted by Erica Heilman.


  • Summer Musical

    Aug 07 2019

    It’s the summer musical in Randolph, Vermont…one day before showtime. It’s been an annual event at Chandler Music Hall for over twenty years, and this year they’re putting on Footloose. And honestly? It feels like the whole town is involved. Like it takes every last person in Randolph to pull this thing off…again. To put on a full musical with up to 120 kids, in three weeks? It’s a miracle. I spent an afternoon talking with some of the kids backstage, about their lives in musical the...more

  • Leland Will Figure It Out

    Jul 09 2019

    Leland lives over the hill from me in East Calais. We’ve been friends since he was in first grade, and every year around this time we get together and he tells me what he’s thinking about, worried about, what his plans are. He got his driver’s permit two weeks ago so he drove me over to Number 10 Pond and we sat and talked about the ups and downs of his first year of high school, about girls, about avocado toast… Credits Music for this show is by Vermont musician Brian Cl...more

  • Logging By Hand

    Jun 28 2019

    If you drive around rural Vermont, you see logging skidders parked in people’s dooryards. You see them working in smaller woodlots and residential woodlots, felling trees with a chainsaw at twenty below zero, dragging cables through waist deep snow. It’s dangerous work, and they’re a resilient lot. And they prefer logging by hand. This story is about them. Credits This show is part of The Resilient Forest series produced by Northern Woodlands and first aired on NEXT, a weekly radio show an...more

  • Gamelan and Subjects of Consequence

    Jun 19 2019

    Gamelan Sulukala is a group of fifteen people in central Vermont who come together at the dead end of a dirt road in the basement of the Goddard College library, to play Indonesian music on an ornate, court gamelan made on the island of Java.  There is no harmony. Instead, each sound is part of an intricate layering of patterns. No one instrument, or musician stands alone. Except the people in gamelan are people who very much stand alone. Writers and strawberry farmers and scientists and Renaiss...more

  • Senior

    May 29 2019

      When I was in high school I remember being amazed by how much grownups seemed to forget about being young. But as it turns out….you do forget. A lot of it. And a lot of it’s important, and funny, and sometimes scary. I do remember that I hated high school graduation. Not because I didn’t want to graduate, but because I knew I was supposed to be excited but I didn’t know how to be excited about a future that didn’t exist yet and that I couldn’t imagine. So a couple weeks before gradu...more

  • Victim Advocate

    May 10 2019

      The criminal justice system is not designed to answer to the needs of crime victims. It’s designed to figure out if there’s enough evidence to bring a case. If there is, a defense attorney builds a case for the defendant and a prosecutor builds a case for the state of Vermont. The alleged victim in the case becomes a witness in their own story. They may have felt the impact of a crime, but they play no direct role in how the crime is adjudicated. For most people brand new to the system, ...more

  • Problems Episode 4: Coffee and Public School

    Apr 10 2019

      Welcome to the fourth episode of Problems, a radio drama about Pam and Joel, two old friends who support each other through their problems…because no problem is too small to complain about. In this episode, Joel pays a visit to Pam at her house and brings her a small gift. Joel’s daughter, Whitney, has started at public school. Pam’s daughter River had a harder time at public school, and now she’s back at the local private school. Welcome.

  • Captain JP Sinclair

    Mar 29 2019

      Captain JP Sinclair has been at the center of over five-hundred death investigations and a hundred-and-one homicides in the state of Vermont. He served as the state’s chief criminal investigator and he led the Vermont State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He was also instrumental in forming a major crime unit in the state of Vermont to handle the state’s most egregious cases. And we used to play little league together. JP and I went to Charlotte Central School tog...more

  • Brand New Life

    Mar 13 2019

      I interviewed T.O. back in the summer of 2017. He’d just gotten out of prison, where he’s spent the majority of his adult life, and he was trying to figure out what to do next. After we met, he found employment and he enrolled at the Community College of Vermont. Things were going well. But what does it feel like to start a brand new life? It’s hard. And it’s complicated. Credits Music by Brian Clark T.O.’s Poetry Patience Peep dis… What’s patience?? What&#...more

  • Deer Camp

    Feb 11 2019

      I spent the night before deer season at Jim Welch’s deer camp in Chelsea, Vermont. His camp is an old school bus, outfitted with a woodstove and a couple pallets in the back for sleeping. To get to it you have to drive through Mr. Bradshaw’s barnyard and then about a half mile across a field. The bus has been there for as long as Jim can remember and Mr. Bradshaw lets him use it. So a bunch of Jim’s friends were coming out to the bus to do what they always do the night before...more

  • Susan and I Talk About Cancer

    Jan 28 2019

      A lot of you who listen to the show regularly already know Susan Randall. She’s a private investigator and an old friend and I interview her now and then for the show. A couple months ago Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s important to say right off that I think Susan’s going to be fine. The cancer hasn’t spread. She doesn’t need chemotherapy, and she’s almost done with her radiation therapy. But the diagnosis has made her think differently about her life. We got together at th...more

  • Game Warden

    Jan 10 2019

      I spent a day riding around with game warden, Jeff Whipple, on the second weekend of deer season…just when some hunters are getting frustrated they haven’t got their deer yet. Exciting things happened. Game wardens are like nature’s cops. They’re trained in law enforcement, but they’re also conservationists. Their job is to look after the wilderness areas and forests that make up 75 percent of Vermont. They’re spread thin across the state, so in order to respond quickly to ca...more

  • Christine

    Dec 06 2018

      What most people outside Vermont know about Christine Hallquist is that she was the country’s first transgender gubernatorial candidate. But it’s not what she ran on–and it’s not even what was most interesting about her campaign. The day before election day, Christine and her team had just finished a fourteen-county Road to Victory Tour,  which involved going to places like Lunenburg, Vermont, population 1302. And this wasn’t her first visit to Lunenburg. Christin...more

  • Problems, Episode 3: A Celebrity Interview

    Nov 22 2018

      Welcome to another episode of Problems–a series about Pam and Joel, two old friends who support each other through their problems. Because no problem is too small to complain about. This is a special episode, featuring special celebrity guest, Steve McFadden. McFadden is an acclaimed performance artist from Chicago, and old friend of Pam’s. His work is extreme, and always dangerous. Pam was conducting the interview on behalf of her daughter River, who was uncomfortable conduc...more

  • They Are Us, Part 1: Sarah

    Nov 20 2018

    Sarah Holland had no history of mental illness. She was a full-time R.N., she had three kids and a small farm. She was busy. Then suddenly she started to experience symptoms of depression. She didn’t have a name for it. No one in her world had ever talked about mental health. But pretty soon Sarah was having a hard time working, and parenting. This is a story of one woman’s struggle with major depression, and her recovery. This show is the first in a seven-part series I produced for Vermon...more

  • They Are Us, Show 4: They Are Us

    Nov 20 2018

      How should people live long-term in our state if they have a serious mental illness? The hope is that they’ll find ways to integrate into their communities with support, but that’s proven tough to accomplish. In this show we look at the challenges in our community mental health care system. Featuring: Ken Libertoff, former director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health Anne Donahue, state representative from Northfield and Berlin, editor of Counterpoint Greg Mairs, operational di...more

  • They Are Us, Show 7: Work

    Nov 20 2018

      Both Alexis and Steve were diagnosed with schizophrenia. This is the story about how meaningful, paid work plays a role in their recovery. Featuring: Paul Miller, co-coordinator of the Green Mountain Workforce, Washington County Mental Health Louis Josephson, president and CEO of Brattleboro Retreat Alexis Kyriak, artist Steve, culinary worker This show is part of a seven-part series I produced for Vermont Public Radio called They Are Us, which features personal stories from inside the...more

  • They Are Us, Show 6: I Could Be Well

    Nov 20 2018

      Leslie Nelson has heard voices for as long as she can remember. She sees things other people don’t see. This is a conversation about what it’s like to be normal, from Leslie’s point of view, and the incredible power of finding people like herself to talk with about their normal lives with mental illness. Featuring: Leslie Nelson, START Team Leader, Howard Center This show is part of a seven-part series I produced for Vermont Public Radio called They Are Us, which features personal stor...more

  • They Are Us, Show 3: Parents

    Nov 20 2018

      Connie’s son was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was nineteen, just as he was becoming independent. He didn’t believe there was anything wrong with him. He did not want to seek treatment. And since he was legally an adult, his parents stood by and watched his life fall apart. Ron’s story was much the same. One in 100 adults is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and for most, the onset is around this time, in late adolescence, and parents often play a critical role in their ca...more

  • They Are Us, Part 2: Home

    Nov 20 2018

      There are Vermonters who experience psychiatric crises for years — and repeated visits to emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals. Where do they go when they leave the hospital? And why do they keep coming back? This is a story about the role housing plays in mental health. Featuring: Ken Libertoff, former director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health Louis Josephson, president and CEO of Brattleboro Retreat Brian Lincourt, night charge nurse at Brattleboro Retreat Connie Stab...more

  • They Are Us, Show 5: My Pad

    Nov 20 2018

      A story about Vermont’s only permanent, supervised housing for people with serious mental illness. Featuring: Anne Donohue, state representative from Northfield and Berlin, editor of Counterpoint Graham Parker, MyPad director Connie Stabler, mother and Howard Center board member This show is part of a seven-part series I produced for Vermont Public Radio called They Are Us, which features personal stories from inside the state’s mental healthcare system. Comments: Please make a c...more

  • Cheerleader

    Oct 04 2018

      We didn’t have cheerleading at my school. Or pep rallies. I think we would’ve made fun of cheering and cheerleaders at my school. Because we were scared and cruel and had no idea what we were missing. My son just started high school and I snuck into the gym for his first pep rally. I almost wept. Seeing all those kids—the freshmen and the seniors and the football players and the shy kids—kids at a stage in life that can be so self conscious and horrible—seeing them all clapping and ...more

  • Graffiti Photographer

    Sep 28 2018

    Steve Grody has dedicated his life to his passions. He’s an accomplished swing dance teacher. He’s a self defense instructor. And in the last twenty-eight years, he’s taken tens of thousands of photographs of graffiti in his hometown of Los Angeles. This is a conversation about the decades he’s spent wandering alleyways, climbing under bridges and through tunnels,  documenting this ephemeral art. This program is produced by Bianca Giaever. She’s a writer, filmmaker...more

  • Let’s Pull the Damn Woman Card

    Sep 11 2018

      This is a show about women running for office. It’s not about issues or policies. You won’t learn where these women stand on public education or healthcare. It’s just about being a woman…running for office. The truth is I’m tired of hearing about women running for office. I think there’s a liberal assumption that I already understand why that’s a good thing. But we’re not really supposed to talk explicitly about how being a woman, and not be...more

  • One of Those Teachers

    Aug 23 2018

      Daphne Kalmar was a school teacher for over twenty years. She taught in California, Massachusetts and then in a small school in Vermont. She was one of those teachers. One of the exciting and inspiring ones you never forget…one of the teachers who sees every kid. Daphne is now a children’s book author and she’s just published her first book, A Stitch in Time. We sat in her kitchen by an open window. It had that late summer sound to it, the sound I associate with the beginning ...more

  • Amelia Drives Around

    Aug 10 2018

    I picked Amelia up at The Shelburne Museum the other day. It was a few hours before her soundcheck so she had some time to kill and we took a slow drive down by the lake. She drove. She’s a good driver. Amelia is one half of the band Sylvan Esso. Nick Sanborn is the other half. I’m not great at music genres but I’ve heard their music described as ‘electro-pop’, as ‘glitchy metropolitan folk’ (what??). Anyway, their music is incredibly fun, bent, smart, a...more

  • Thomas Talks About Coming Out. Twice.

    Jul 20 2018

    Thomas Caswell has autism. Which doesn’t tell you very much about him. Autism doesn’t describe a person. If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person…with autism. But over the last couple years Thomas has been coming out of the closet, in stages. And along with the common difficulties of coming out, there are some special difficulties if you’re a person with a disability. In this show, Thomas talks about growing up with autism, and growing into his life as a gay man. C...more

  • Leland. It’s a Porcupine!

    Jun 28 2018

      It’s time again for another conversation with my neighbor Leland. He’s fourteen now. He just finished eighth grade. He’s got big plans for the summer. This is the fourth year I’ve interviewed Leland about what he’s doing and what’s on his mind, and what’s on his mind is always pretty interesting. This year he took me out to his fort, in a pine forest about a half mile from his house. It’s a tarp held up by two beams, and covered with brush piles. There’s a firepit...more

  • Problems, Episode 2: Open Mic

    Jun 07 2018

        Welcome to the second episode of Problems, an occasional mini-series of  Rumble Strip. Problems. Because no problem is too small to complain about. Problems stars Pam and Joel, old friends who support each other through their problems. We left off with Joel, who was in the midst of a pretty inconvenient bathroom renovation in his house, and Pam, who’s been dealing with some issues with her daughter River. River’s been biting other kids at school.    

  • Police Log, Gancy’s Cows Edition

    May 24 2018

    It’s almost summer here in central Vermont, and as it gets hotter, it seems to get more dangerous. Law enforcement is working hard behind the scenes to keep people safe. Also to keep cows safe. Here’s the police log, read by Scott Carrier.

  • Shaggs’ Own Thing: The Story of the Wiggin Sisters

    May 10 2018

    Depending on who you talk to, The Shaggs were either one of the best bands from the ’60s, or one of the worst bands of all time. Helen, Betty and Dot Wiggin grew up in Fremont, New Hampshire. They had no interest in music, no natural talent for music, and in the late ’60s, their father forced them to drop out of school and start a rock band. In their living room. And then he forced them to record an album. Decades later, The Shaggs became a cult classic….beloved by the likes of...more

  • Carl. A Different Breed of Cat

    Apr 24 2018

    Directions to Carl Blaisdell’s house: Go about seven miles down this road. Then there’s a road that kind of goes up to a Jersey farm on the left and then there’s a pond. But there’s no sign to the pond. So after the pond, drive past the pull-off and Carl’s trailer sits way up in a field at the top of that hill. There’s a lot of pipes. And a lot of cars and trucks. And lots and lots of hounds. But Carl wasn’t home. And so I went back the next day and we sat in his truck and tal...more

  • A Tribute to Greg Sharrow

    Apr 04 2018

    This is a show I made back in 2008. I’m running it as a tribute to my friend Greg Sharrow. Greg was one of the first people I met when I came back to Vermont in 2003. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t have a job or really any plans, and it was the middle of winter. And then I met Greg at his office in the old Vermont Folklife Center building in Middelbury. It was crammed with books, and we sat down and talked for two hours, and it was that kind of talk where you’re almost gulping each ...more

  • Driving Around With Susan. Again!

    Mar 29 2018

      Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. –Rumi This winter Susan Randall worked with the defense on a sentencing case for a high profile multiple-murder here in Vermont. A sentencing is the time for considering the pain caused by a crime. It’s also a time to ask, How did we get here? What happened in the life of this person that led her to do what she did? For months, Susan worked closely with the woman who committed these murders,...more

  • Problems, Episode 1: Grout and the Contra Dance

    Mar 21 2018

    Some of life’s inevitable problems are big and some are quite small. But no problems are too small to complain about. Welcome to the first installment of Problems…a periodic radio drama about…problems. Joel and Pam’s problems.Pam and Joel, who you’ll hear from in this show, are old friends and they support each other through their problems, and even if you don’t think their problems are very problematic, for Pam and Joel…they are. In this first episode, we hear about Pam&...more

  • Son Lux

    Mar 03 2018

      Son Lux is a band that doesn’t live comfortably in any genre. Their sound is massive, anthemic, but it’s also strangely intimate. The rhythms are incredibly complex, and it’s shot through with these bright details of sound. The project started in Ryan Lott’s brain in Cleveland, and then it grew by two–guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang. They’re all composers and producers and improvisers. I think it’s fair to say they’re all wicked smart. I interviewed R...more

  • Learning the Trade

    Feb 09 2018

    The Northeast Kingdom is mostly small towns separated by miles and miles. Sometimes it’s featured in trout fishing magazines. It also has some of the highest unemployment and lowest wages in the state. Its beautiful place. And it’s a hard place to live. I was up at the St. Johnsbury Academy a couple weeks ago, which is one of the gateways to the Kingdom. My sister and brother in law both work there. And I’ve always been curious about the career and technical classes at the scho...more

  • Emergency

    Jan 16 2018

    People having mental health crises are visiting emergency rooms in record numbers. But emergency room nurses are not trained to treat mental illnesses. This problem isn’t unique to Vermont. In fact it’s an acute problem all over the country. For this show I interviewed nine nurses and one sheriff, in three settings around the state. This isn’t a show that explores where the problem came from, or where the solution lies. This show is about what it looks like right now in emergency rooms across th...more

  • Hitchhiker

    Jan 10 2018

      This is another guest show from radio producer Scott Carrier, which he produced when he was twenty-six. He hitchhiked across the United States, interviewed people along the way, and ended up at the door of NPR in Washington, DC with an armful of tape. This is Scott’s first story. Scott produces my favorite podcast. It’s called Home of the Brave.  

  • Seasons Greetings From Liz and Jerry!

    Dec 21 2017

    Here is our annual season’s greetings card, this year from Liz and Jerry Danforth. Fair warning…they had a pretty rough year. Credits Script by writer Tal McThenia The show is a co-production of Rumble Strip and Pod Planet. Music Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy • United States Navy Band Clouds Pass Softly Deux • Podington Bear • Free Music Archive I Am A Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor • Chris Zabriskie • Free Music Archive Little Drummer Boy • Field recording of Christmas carolers.

  • A Good Death

    Dec 14 2017

    My friend Tim Kasten died two weeks ago. Ever since I met Tim, he’s been preparing for his own death. Partly because he had significant medical issues. But I think mostly he was preparing for his death because he wanted to. Thinking about the impermanence of life gave his life meaning. He was one of the most spiritually curious people I’ve ever met. In this show, we hear from Tim, on death and dying. And we also chronicle the building of his casket…or his simple pine box…...more

  • Scott’s Nature

    Dec 05 2017

    I’ve been reading the news too much. I read every version of the same story in every news outlet, and sometimes I forget I’ve read them and I read them again. I think a lot of people are feeling concerned and even scared. But I thought it would be good to remember some of the important things that are not the news. I asked Scott Carrier to tell me about a place in the wilderness, in a high meadow, far, far away from the news. It’s a musical. Credits Willie Tobin provided the nature sound ...more

  • Rowell

    Nov 14 2017

    This fall my friend and I were going for a walk and as we walked past a small barn set down off the Upper Road in Calais, we heard someone from the barn call up to us and say, ‘You wanna come see some pigs?’ Of course we wanted to see some pigs. John Rowell showed us his new piglets and I went back a few weeks later to hang out with John and his brother Eddie and record a conversation. Here’s a few minutes from that night.

  • The Museum of Everyday Life

    Oct 28 2017

    The mission of The Museum of Everyday Life is “a heroic, slow-motion cataloguing of the quotidian–a detailed, theatrical expression of gratitude and love for the miniscule and unglamorous experience of daily life in all its forms.” The museum’s home is in a barn on Route 16 in the Northeast Kingdom. It is my favorite museum. This is a show featuring the museum’s creator, Clare Dolan. Credits This show is co-produced by Erica Heilman and Mark Davis. Mark is my friend and ...more

  • Catastrophe and Grace

    Oct 16 2017

    Rob Mermin had a career as a mime clown for forty years, then in 1987 he started a circus company here in Vermont called Circus Smirkus. Three years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This is a story about movement, the loss of control of movement…catastrophe and grace. About Rob Rob Mermin trained in classical mime with Etienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau and has performed in European circus, theater, TV and film for forty years.  He is an author, director, university le...more

  • Hill Farm

    Sep 24 2017

    Peter Dunning’s farm is a Vermont hill farm. It’s a hundred and thirty-six acres of forest and orchards and wet spots and steep, rocky pasture, picked over by farmers for hundreds of years. It’s the kind of place that does not lend itself to the industrial production of anything. Instead it lends itself to the production of…everything. Peter has farmed here, mostly alone, for nearly forty years. Now he’s getting done. The animals are gone. The farm is growing up around him. Here’s h...more

  • Waitress

    Sep 01 2017

    My mother used to say that everyone should waitress at least once. So I did. And I failed. In this program, I talk with some of the finest waitstaff in central Vermont about life in the business of serving your food. Appreciation: Thanks to Jay at Sarducci’s and Brian at the Wayside Diner for lining up interviews in these two fine establishments. Additional interviews with Josh Larkin and Jodi DeGuzman.

  • Mind Windows

    Jul 28 2017

    Mind Windows is a public radio program that gives your mind a chance to open its windows. Open them and then…see what happens! Our guest today is Morgantha Prentiss, a director with New York’s off Broadway Lynx Throttle Theatre. Last year, she co-created and directed the musical, Lambs and Order, in which actors re-create the classic police procedural but as a musical, and with a cast wearing paper-mache lamb masks. The musical was a hit. It was extended several times, and transferred to ...more

  • Plain Life

    Jul 08 2017

    A few weeks ago I got a call from my friend Susan Randall, the private investigator you might remember from previous shows. She said that ‘T.O.’–a former client in a federal public defender case–had just been released from prison seven days before, after serving a six year bid. He was trying to figure out what to do next and also clearly trying to figure out how to manage the world outside prison. Where people are just walking around.  Susan said she and T.O. were having...more

  • Sylvan Esso is a Good Band

    Jun 29 2017

      The first time I learned of Amelia Meath was in an email exchange. She’d written me a nice note about Rumble Strip and at the end she wrote–in rather an understated way–‘P.S. I’m in a band. It’s called Sylvan Esso.’ And because I’m old, I’d never heard of Sylvan Esso. So I looked her up online and I spent the rest of that night listening to every version of every Sylvan Esso song I could find, really loud and over and over. If there had been an a...more

  • Police Log, Burning Lawn Chairs Edition

    Jun 19 2017

    It’s been some time since we’ve heard reports from the police about criminal activity here in Vermont. And I’m sorry to say that so far this summer, it’s been…busy. There’s pretzel-related violence and lawnmower theft. And more trouble at Dunkin’ Donuts. Here’s your summer report from Vermont police, reported by Scott Carrier, producer of Home of the Brave.

  • Crime and Punishment Under Trump

    Jun 07 2017

    Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to all federal prosecutors, with new directives for charging and sentencing in criminal cases. He’s directed federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most severe penalties possible and pursue mandatory minimum sentences where they’re available. We’re headed back into the war on drugs from the 80s and 90s…a war that did not end drug use or make anyone safer. Instead it ripped apart families, packed American prisons and resulted in l...more

  • An American Life

    May 25 2017

      Vaughn Hood was a 118-pound barber when he was drafted into the Vietnam War. And in Vaughn’s war, most men didn’t survive their first three-month tour. Now Vaughn Hood runs a hair salon in St. Johnsbury with his wife, Bev. For a couple days, I sat and talked with him in the back of his salon. We talked about war, about hard work, about survival, and hairdressing. Here is the story of an extraordinary American life. This story we featured here was co-produced by Erica Heilman and Larry Ma...more

  • Leland is Almost Done Seventh Grade

    May 11 2017

    It’s spring in Vermont, and it’s been a full year since we heard from my friend Leland. When we left him last year, he was just about to graduate from Calais elementary school and move up to the big union middle school. Leland is my neighbor. And this will be my third year talking with him on tape…about what he’s doing, and what he’s thinking about. He talks about revolutionary war reenactments and friend groups and grief… he takes me around and shows me all the places I forgot about in the thi...more

  • We Are Sending You Light

    Apr 28 2017

    The Eventide Singers are a volunteer hospice choir based in Greenfield, Massachusetts. They aim to comfort people who are ill, homebound, or actively dying. There are a number of these groups of bedside singers in Vermont and all over the world. They sing to be of service to people who are straddling the edges of life and death, or who are lonely and need a little light. They sing to comfort the caregivers and give them a little break from all they must attend to. They are intimate strangers pro...more

  • Robert Ford Last Ambassador

    Apr 13 2017

      Robert Ford served as the last U.S. Ambassador to Syria. He arrived in the country right before the protests began there in 2011 and he was witness to the beginnings of the civil war. In 2012 he was pulled out over security concerns, but he continued to work on the crisis in Syria back in DC until 2014, when he left the Foreign Service. Robert Ford now lives with his wife Alison in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, which is about as far from the Middle East as you can get. We met in his l...more

  • Hunger is Boring

    Apr 03 2017

      This is a show about how the charitable food system works and how it’s not working. The topic of hunger is not very exciting. Stories about problems that have always been problems are generally not very exciting. And since there’s enough food to feed everyone in this country ten times over, hunger is obviously a systems problem. So I think I’ve figured it would get solved any day now. By systems people. But it’s not getting solved. In fact the lines at food shelves are ...more

  • The Wildlife

    Mar 22 2017

    In the concrete jungle, it all starts out innocently enough: especially if you live in a high-rise. It was a blustery Tuesday morning, when two pigeons, named Cody and Megan, were house hunting on the balcony of my apartment. As you’d expect, they put in an offer. Beyond the holiday turkey or roast chicken here and there, I wasn’t fond of birds.  When Cody and Megan appeared, I shooed them away, closed the balcony door and left for work. When I came home, I was in for a surprise. Cody was d...more

  • Judge Cashman

    Mar 08 2017

    Ed Cashman spent twenty-five years on the bench, presiding over drunk driving cases and murders and everything in between. After a while, he started to question whether the American criminal justice system was actually achieving justice. The kinds of sentences that the public demanded and that lawyers accepted often felt more like vengeance than fairness. Judge Cashman tried to give defendants—even those charged with heinous of crimes—a chance to redeem themselves. It was a philosophy that some ...more

  • Your Neighbor

    Feb 24 2017

      For the last four and a half years, Victor’s been working on dairy farms in the Northeast. Like 11 million other people in this country, he’s undocumented. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve always assumed I knew this story already…like it was some kind of composite story of the ‘Mexican migrant farm worker experience’. The worst part is, I didn’t even know I was assuming this. I guess I didn’t really have to think about it. The story didn’t have a lot to do with me. But ...more

  • Deep Stealth Mode

    Feb 14 2017

    When Marlo Mack’s son was three and just learning to talk, he informed his mother that he was not a boy. He said that something had gone wrong in her tummy that made him come out as a boy instead of a girl. Today, a guest show from two of my favorite podcasts… Marlo Mack’s podcast, How to Be a Girl, is a riveting, funny, sometimes heartbreaking account of her life raising a transgender daughter. It has some of the best interviewing with a child I’ve ever heard. It’s...more

  • Dunkin’ Donuts

    Jan 31 2017

    It’s really dark here in Vermont this time of year. And every year, by the third week in January, I feel like I’m seeing everything through the wrong end of a telescope. A dirty telescope. I stop wanting to answer the phone. I have a hard time picking out a cereal at the store. Most mornings it just seems easier to wear what I wore to bed. After Trump’s first week in office, I feel worse than most years. And actually the whole world seems on edge. It seems like no one can decide how to hel...more

  • Benedict Arnold’s Leg

    Jan 03 2017

      Steve Sheinkin is an award-winning writer of  stories for kids about American history. When he started out, he was a writer of boring textbooks for kids about American history. When he started, he was young and ambitious and he wanted to bring new energy to textbook writing, to mine American history for fresh new details and anecdotes that could capture the interest of fifth graders…! This is an interview about how he failed. And he shares stories about the awful push and pull of p...more

  • Seasonal Update from the Keens!

    Dec 20 2016

    Ho ho ho! It’s time again for the annual seasonal update from the Keen family! In certain American subcultures, there’s a long holiday tradition of sending out end-of-year family update letters to far-flung relatives, friends and acquaintances. They can be wonderful. They can also be spectacularly bizarre. Could it be that this year the tradition comes to an end? Here is the Keen family report…. The Season Update is written by Tal McThenia. Tal is a writer of books and articles and ...more

  • Nicholas is Waiting

    Dec 16 2016

    As some of you may remember, last year I did a pledge drive. It was called the Shwag Pledge Drive. I gave away a number of prizes to extremely lucky pledgers. There was a pair of boiled wool mittens that my sister made, a box of kindling that my boyfriend cut up, a VPR pledge drive mug, and one of the prizes was going to be an interview with me in my car in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot in Montpelier, Vermont. Nicholas won the interview, but he lives in London. So we did the interview by...more

  • Lentils Suck

    Nov 30 2016

    “That’s the thing about lentils, if they were going to soften, they would have already fucking softened. Honestly, you’d be better off waiting for someone who didn’t find you remotely attractive to fall in love with you.” This show is from an article by writer Sarah Miller, and it appeared in FoodandWine.com. The title is self explanatory. Welcome. Sarah Miller lives in Nevada City, California. She’s the author of Inside the mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl. She also has a...more

  • Hot Bird. Again.

    Nov 24 2016

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here is hunter Barry Forbes talking about turkey hunting again. I could listen to Barry Forbes talk about turkey hunting all day, but in this case he only talks about it for about three and a half minutes. Welcome.   Credits I made that show with tape from the Vermont Folklife Center.

  • Charlie Hunter Paints Outside

    Nov 10 2016

      Charlie Hunter is a plein air painter, which is a fancy way of saying he paints outside. His paintings of Vermont are stark and evocative and mostly the color of mud (Charlie calls it murk, which I think is a fancy way of saying mud). But his paintings capture the light and the feeling of this place in a way that’s totally uncanny and unique. He has a special love for painting trains and garages and industrial places in decline, and his hometown of Bellows Falls is his favorite subject. It’s ...more

  • The Special Olympics Are Awesome

    Oct 25 2016

    A couple weeks ago my son and I volunteered at the soccer Special Olympics in Northfield, VT. The athletes came from all over the state and the teams were all ages, and both sexes. So there were fifty-five year old women teaming up with thirteen year old boys and seventeen year old girls and you’ve never seen so much team spirit or felt such intense excitement. About all of it. Everything. The games, the cheering, the lunch…it was like the feeling of Christmas and birthdays and Chariots of Fire ...more

  • Jim Rooney

    Oct 18 2016

    Today, an interview with songwriter and Grammy winning record producer Jim Rooney. He and his wife Carol live in an old farmhouse in Sharon, Vermont, but Jim is still back and forth to Nashville, where he spent thirty years playing music, writing songs, and producing some of my all time favorite records with artists like John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Iris Dement, and Townes Van Zandt. Record producers are the people responsible for getting great performances from singers and session musicians in t...more

  • When the Food Runs Out

    Sep 24 2016

    More and more Vermonters can’t afford groceries by the end of the month. The paycheck isn’t enough. The food stamps won’t stretch. And they’re looking to community meals and food shelves for regular help. The trouble is, food shelves weren’t designed to provide sustainable food. They were set up for emergencies. For fires, for floods. But every day, an army of volunteers–mostly women between the ages of 55 and 70–hustle food from area stores and local farmers and the Vermont F...more

  • Jubal. Tail End of the Old School.

    Sep 09 2016

      I met Jubal Durivage through my boyfriend, Gordon. Gordon and his two partners, Robby and Hilton, own a small hydroelectric plant way up near the Canadian border. It was pretty rundown when they bought it, and over the years they’ve hired a lot of people to work on it, mostly from the Northeast Kingdom. Crane operators, engineers, and Jubal Durivage, one of the few certified bridge welders in Vermont. I heard a lot about Jubal before I met him from Gordon and Robby. They respect his work...more

  • Driving around with Susan

    Aug 22 2016

    Last summer I interviewed my friend Susan Randall, a private investigator. Susan trained me as an investigator, and we’ve spent whole days driving around the state of Vermont, working on cases and talking. We never run out of things to talk about. So I figured it was time to do another show with her. In this conversation, we talked about the criminal justice system more generally than before, and we ended up talking a lot about parenting…single parenting in particular. Come drive ar...more

  • Police Log, Bunk Bed Dispute Edition

    Aug 10 2016

    It’s hot here in central Vermont, and there’s a whole lot of crime going down. Here’s a sampling of calls to the police, as reported in the Times Argus, the Stowe Reporter, and the Caledonian. Read by Scott Carrier, producer of my favorite podcast, Home of the Brave. Music from Joey Truman, a Brooklyn-based writer and musician. His two recent books, Killing the Math and Postal Child, are available from Whiskey Tit Press. His band is called Um, and they rock.  

  • Peter Schumann, Advisor General

    Jul 30 2016

    This is a conversation with Bread and Puppet founder and director, Peter Schumann…a conversation in which I ask him over and over again to answer questions that don’t really have answers, about what makes a great performance. And about what is a great performance… Peter Schumann is a driven, prolific artist who makes huge outdoor theater performances with giant paintings and puppets and sculptures. There is music. There are people making animal sounds. Everything seems to be made of paper...more

  • The Neighborhood

    Jul 02 2016

    The kids of Randolph, Vermont describe their neighborhood as a place with three purple houses. They tell me there’s a shortcut through the woods down to Dunkin’ Donuts, and they say it’s pretty close to three graveyards. The kids run in twos and threes and sometimes in one big pack for a game of hide and seek tag. I spent an afternoon talking with them and following them around. This show is a little taste of that day. It’s a postcard from childhood, a place we remember b...more

  • Last Chapter

    Jun 09 2016

      Rob Mermin and Bill Morancy lived in neighboring apartments in Montpelier, Vermont. They were best friends.  And when Bill was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he asked his best friend to help him die. In 2013, Vermont passed the The Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act, or Act 39…our version of Death with Dignity. The legislation allows eligible Vermonters with terminal diseases the option to be prescribed medication that will hasten the end of their life. In 2015, Bill elected ...more

  • Six Parents. Six DCF Stories

    May 20 2016

    Last winter I made a show about working for the Department of Children and Families and I’d promised to make a show about what it’s like to be a parent whose had to work with this state agency, which is responsible for the safety of Vermont children. It’s no secret that DCF is currently understaffed and overworked. The opiate epidemic is one major factor in the growing number of kids taken into temporary custody by the state, and the growing number of TPR’S, or terminations of parental rights. T...more

  • Aunties

    May 08 2016

    Here’s another show from my friend Larry Massett’s brain. The story is called Aunties, and it’s from his soon-to-be-released podcast, Lick The Crickets. Lick the Crickets is a podcast that’s been coming soon for quite some time. The problem is, Larry can’t stop making shows for Lick the Crickets long enough to launch Lick the Crickets. But he will. Oh, he will. And it will be found at Lickthecrickets.com, and I will let you know when it’s up. Aunties is performed by...more

  • Leland, the Almost Middle School Edition

    Apr 26 2016

    Leland Kennedy lives one hill over from me in East Calais, Vermont. I interviewed Leland last year when he was ten, and I’ve received some letters from listeners wondering what he’s up to and what he’s been thinking about since then. Leland’s pretty busy in the afternoons after school. You can usually find him biking up and down the road or working on survival techniques in the woods, or watching television. But he agreed to come over and talk with me about what’s on his mind these days. We talk...more

  • Police Log, Stolen Pie Edition

    Apr 21 2016

    I have been remiss in reporting on calls to the local police. I apologize. Here is a sampling of reports to the Barre and Montpelier police in the last few months. Reported by Scott Carrier. Music by Peter Cressy of Plainfield, Vermont Scott Carrier produces the excellent Home of the Brave.

  • Jesse

    Apr 08 2016

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/257971136″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /]  For most of Jesse’s early childhood, her mother was addicted to crystal meth. She called it her ‘high functioning addict period’. She kept a spotless house, worked a regular job and had four well behaved kids. Then Jesse’s mom started using opi...more

  • Muskrat Trapper

    Mar 25 2016

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/255017739″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /] Barry Forbes lives on Route 116, five miles east of Middlebury and eight miles south of Bristol, Vermont. He says if you’re trying to find the place, just slow down and his hounds will let you know where he is. Barry lives in a double wide trailer directly ...more

  • A Beer with Ben Hewitt

    Mar 02 2016

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/249825433″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /]Twenty years ago, Ben Hewitt and his wife Penny bought forty acres of land in Cabot, Vermont and started their first homestead. In Vermont, the word ‘homestead’ generally refers to people who build their own houses and live self sufficiently to ...more

  • Inside DCF

    Jan 24 2016

    It has been a very troubling few years at Vermont’s Department of Children and Families. In 2014 there was a string of child deaths in Vermont–children in families involved with DCF. These deaths prompted intense anger and at least four investigations into the department. Then on August 7, 2015, Lara Sobel, a caseworker at DCF, was shot as she left the DCF offices in Barre, Vermont. She was shot and killed by a woman who was angry after losing custody of her daughter to DCF the month...more

  • Seasonal Update

    Dec 16 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/237865316″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /]How time flies! The holidays are such a nice time to catch up with friends and family. Here’s a little roundup of highlights from a year in the Becht family. Happy Holidays! Credits Seasonal Update was written by Tal McThenia, a writer of books and ar...more

  • A Conversation with M.T. Anderson

    Dec 09 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/236842412″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /]M.T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, which won the National Book Award. Whether it’s crafting a dystopian future, writing vampire fiction, or, in the cas...more

  • Our School

    Nov 19 2015

    The recent school consolidation bill promised to lower our taxes. Then it promised equal opportunity for all kids. It’s unclear how it will deliver on either of these promises, but one thing is sure. It could radically change culture in small town Vermont. This is a show about some of the long-term political and cultural effects of Act 46. Comments: To make a comment or to see comments, scroll to the bottom of this page. THE SHOW: Click here to listen to the show.     THE OUTTAKE...more

  • In Case of Emergency

    Nov 13 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/232885186″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /] In Case of Emergency is another show from Larry Massett’s new podcast series, as yet unnamed.  The series isn’t out yet, and I have no idea how to describe what it is. It’s not like any podcast series I’ve ever heard. And it’s...more

  • I Am In Here

    Oct 29 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/230694656″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /] Mark Utter was born with a form of autism that makes it impossible for him to say what he’s thinking. For the first thirty years of his life, Mark did not have access to the world of words, except as a listener. An observer. When he was thirty, he was...more

  • The Defense

    Sep 10 2015

    In cases where a defendant seems unjustly accused, the defense attorney is our hero. But if they seem guilty…or if it’s an especially violent crime, we look at these lawyers and wonder…how can they do that? This is a show about the people who stand with the accused. You’ll hear five perspectives on the art of criminal defense. You’ll hear about what drew these attorneys to criminal law, preparing for trial and cross examinations, and how this work colors their views on our state of...more

  • Vermont Private Eye

    Jul 26 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216364394″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /] This is an interview with a very old friend of mine, and the person who trained me as a private investigator. She taught me everything from basics like how to look up criminal records to the very advanced skills I learned. Susan Randall has been a PI in...more

  • Homeless

    Jul 18 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215213074″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /] Kevin DeMars estimates he’s been homeless ten times in his 58 years. I met with him in his apartment in Rutland, Vermont and we talked about why he’s been homeless so many times, and what it was like to live in the woods. It’s a difficult and raw conversat...more

  • Three Weeks

    Jun 24 2015

    For the last couple years, in addition to producing this show, I’ve also been doing interviews for an organization called The Wake Up to Dying Project. The basic goal of the project is to encourage people to think and talk more about the fact that we die, and at the heart of the project is a sound exhibit that features audio stories–lots and lots of them. Last month I did an interview for this project with a mother who had lost a baby after three weeks of life. I was incredibly nervous abo...more

  • Another Day Older

    Jun 03 2015

    I was meeting a friend at a coffee shop and a song came on the radio that I hadn’t heard since I was in my late twenties. It reminded me of a time when I’d stay up all night long with friends, talking and drinking around bonfires. It was before children and spouses, and before everyone moved to wherever it is they went. It was a time when we had endless amounts of time. So when I heard this song after so long, I remembered this time. And it hadn’t occurred to me until right then, twe...more

  • Michael Chorney, Music Inventor

    Apr 02 2015

    Michael Chorney is a self taught musician, arranger and composer. If you asked me what genre of music he makes, I’d have no idea. All of them? None of them? He spent years mastering different musical genres in both guitar and baritone sax. He’s played British Isles-inspired folk music, improvisational jazz, soul, rock. And over the years, in his own music, the lines between these genres have gotten really blurry. And that’s how he wants it, an ambiguous audio interface is a fun one, he says. M...more

  • After the Forgetting

    Apr 02 2015

    This is a show about love, family and dementia. Part one features a show I made in 2008 about one family’s experience living with an elderly mother’s progressive dementia. Part two features an interview with one of the story’s main characters, Greg Sharrow, about what’s changed, and what he’s learned, in the five years since we made After the Forgetting. After the Forgetting features Greg Sharrow, Bob Hooker, and Marjorie Sharrow. Greg did a lot of marvelous intervi...more

  • Object of My Affection

    Feb 15 2015

    [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/191291077″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /] This is a conversation about love and objects. It’s from a late night conversation with my friend Clare Dolan. In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, we sat on my couch and talked about a special kind of love that exists between people and o...more

  • Truck

    Dec 26 2014

    We live in a place where trucks are a kind of passion. It’s not overt. It’s an understated, Vermont kind of passion. According to TheCarStarter.com, Vermonters sometimes heat up when you get them talking about Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge. So I drove around and talked with some guys about trucks. Here’s what they said. Leave a comment or story at the bottom of this show page!  We love to hear from you. [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/169932294″ params=”co...more