Each week, WAMU 88.5's Metro Connection reaches across D.C., Maryland and Virginia to gather the sounds and stories that capture the current events, culture and personalities driving the Washington region.
In the spirit of Independence Day, we meet some folks who like to raise a little ruckus: From a Civil War-era Radical Republican known as "the dictator of Congress" to a legendary DJ who's been rousing rabble and rhythm in Ocean City for 30 years. Plus, standing up to the world's largest retailer, and the burgeoning battle between the U.S. Park Police and pedicabs.
[Music: "Every Little Bit Hurts" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Stars and Stripes" by Jazzin' Jacks from Snatches of...
On July 4, 1861, President Lincoln called Congress into an extraordinary special session. One of the House of Representatives' most powerful members at the time was Thaddeus Stevens: a flamboyant Radical Republican committed to creating equal opportunity for all. Rebecca Sheir visits the House's official historian, Matthew Wasniewski, to learn more about the so-called "Dictator of Congress."
[Music: "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals from You Get What You Give]
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the U.S. Park Police. The latest outcry against them involves a possible crackdown against pedicabs, the bike-drawn rickshaws you see on the National Mall. Transportation reporter David Schultz brings us the latest, including an incident involving a college student who says a Park Police sergeant roughed her up and then charged her with assaulting an officer.
[Music: "A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "Bicycle Race (Karaoke Version...
The District is in store for another summer of no-holds-barred, independent plays, musicals, dance and other performances, with the sixth annual Capital Fringe Festival. Running from July 7 through July 24, Fringe is the only unjuried, self-producing, open-access festival in the D.C. area, and Rebecca Sheir speaks with the Fest's executive director, Julianne Brienza, to learn how the anything-but-mainstream magic happens.
Four Wal-Mart stores are scheduled to open in the nation's capital next year. And that's making one coalition of community groups in the District pretty uneasy. Courtney Collins recently attended a rally held by this coalition, which says it wants to make sure the world's largest retailer plays fair.
[Music: "Fight" by The Tragically Hip from Road Apples]
The new president of the Washington Teachers Union came to power on a platform of opposing former DCPS chancellor Michelle Rhee. Education reporter Kavitha Cardoza speaks with Saunders about what he's achieved so far and how he hopes to change the current teacher evaluation system, or IMPACT.
[Music: "Teacher (Karaoke Version)" by Stingray Music (Karaoke) from Karaoke in the Style of Jethro Tull - Vol. 2]
Arrested for espionage during the Civil War, smitten with a Union officer, Southern belle Antonia Ford's story reads almost like a soap opera. Rebecca Sheir visits the old Ford home in Fairfax, Va., and speaks with historian Susan Inskeep Gray, who says while Ford's status as a spy was never verified, her love was tried and true.
[Music: "Always" by Patsy Cline from Definitive Collection]
Sixty-two-year-old Mike Beatty, a.k.a. DJ Batman, is celebrating 30 years as one of the most well-known and well-loved rabble-rousing club and radio DJs in Ocean City's history. Coastal reporter Bryan Russo spends some time with the resort's "night-time mayor," and finds out the method to his self-proclaimed madness.
[Music: "Sea of Love" by Tom Waits from Brawlers / "You Got Me Rocking" by Rolling Stones from Voodoo Lounge]
For decades, a ragtag team of revelers has traipsed through the Palisades for the annual Fourth of July parade. The event, replete with dancers, drummers, horses and homemade floats, is a small town tradition that manages to thrive in the big city. In this audio postcard, Jessica Gould finds out what keeps this annual event going strong.
[Music: "Blaze Away" by the Grenadier Guards conducted by Major S.A. Watts from Military Bands 119 Original Hits / "Rebel Rebel (In the Style of David...
Today we bring you stories about how we communicate and, sometimes, fail to communicate. From why deaf students learn differently from hearing students, to what it's like inside the District's secret subculture of graffiti. Plus, we'll visit an island where residents speak an unusual dialect of English, and explore our schools' new approaches to talking about the birds and the bees.
[Music: "Every Little Bit Hurts" by John Davis from Title Tracks]
Want to hear how someone speaks English with an Amazigh accent? How about Kikongo? Or Mortlockese? George Mason University maintains the world's largest online database of English accents. Rebecca Sheir interviews the Speech Accent Archive's founder about where it started, where it's going (hint: iPhone app!), and why it can help everyone from ESL teachers to actors.
[Music: "Stella By Starlight" by Tony Bennett from 40 Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett]
The unique dialect spoken on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay has fascinated tourists and linguists for decades. Courtney Collins spends a day on Tangier to learn more about the dialect's origins, and to hear some of the "Tangierisms" you'll hear only on the island.
[Music: "Instrumental: Island in the Sun" by Dan McTavish from Only in Dreams: A Tribute to Weezer]
It's been two years since the deadly Red Line train crash near Fort Totten. Many observers of Metro say the transit agency has made huge strides in improving safety since then, yet antipathy among riders is still very high. In our weekly transportation segment, WAMU transportation reporter David Schultz talks with Rebecca Sheir about the message Metro is hoping to convey to improve its image.
Note: For our upcoming "Mysteries, Puzzles and Enigmas" show, we're answering your questions...
We move from the messages Metro is trying to send to the sorts of messages you might see as you're riding Metro, whizzing past those high concrete walls between Silver Spring and Rhode Island Avenue on the Red Line. In other words: graffiti. It's a common, and controversial, method of communication for young people in the District. Reporter Jonna McKone heads out with one young graffiti artist, to investigate this secret subculture.
[Music: "Graffiti" by Stereo MCs from Deep Down and...
FBI agents believe they have a credible lead on the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa's body. If they're right, it will solve a longstanding mystery, which will also deflate Hoffa's resonance in popular culture.
The legislation is one of the most far-reaching abortion bills in decades and follows the May murder convictions of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. The bill, which would ban nearly all abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization, is unlikely to ever become law.
Amazon ends the contracts of people and businesses that are paid for sending customers to the retailer. The company has taken similar steps in other states that have passed laws like Minnesota's new sales tax legislation.
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