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.
When Michelle Rhee came on board as Chancellor of D.C.'s Public Schools, there was the question of whether she would succeed. Richard Whitmire's new book, The Bee Eater, profiles Rhee's time in the District. He speaks with Kavitha Cardoza about the book... and how Rhee's adventures as a teacher in Baltimore inspired the intriguing title.
Washington D.C. native and international opera star, Marquita Lister, has performed in the world's great opera houses and has sung "Bess" (in "Porgy and Bess") more than 500 times. In 2006, she became gravely ill, and her meteoric rise was interrupted. But she's worked hard to make a remarkable recovery and now is poised for her come-back. Rebecca Sheir speaks with Lister as she prepares for an upcoming recital benefit for her favorite cause: the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation.
We head low down and down low, exploring stuff beneath the ground -- from tunnels in D.C. to archeological digs in Maryland -- and stuff that's top-secret, from posh Prohibition speakeasies to D.C.'s spies and counter-spies.
Washington, D.C., has a rich history of espionage and intrigue, going back to George Washington. Rebecca Sheir visits the International Spy Museum and talks with founding Executive Director Peter Earnest -- a former CIA agent -- who says D.C. has more spies than any other city in the world.
[Music: "Theme from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (TV Miniseries)" by Geoffrey Burgon]
Fort Meade is the epicenter of U.S. intelligence operations, and though it's right in our backyard, it's off most people's radars. The installation employs about 40,000 people from the D.C. area, and every week that number grows. Emily Friedman takes us behind the gates to find out what's really going on over there.
[Music: "Don't Talk Like" by Sleater-Kinney from The Hot Rock / "All of My Trains" by Robert Francis from One by One]
At L'Hermitage in Frederick, Md., archeologists are uncovering slave cabins and artifacts, including some owned by the Vincendieres family. The family had 90 slaves -- roughly 10 times the number you'd expect for that time -- and archeologists are making some interesting discoveries as they piece together the past.
[Music: "Dry Your Tears, Afrika" by John Williams from Amistad]
Head to the furnace room of the historic Orchard Street Church in Baltimore, Md., and you'll find an escape tunnel fugitive slaves once used to escape to the north. Rob Sachs visits the site with Thomas Saunders, founder of Renaissance Tours, to learn about the church and the wider history of the Underground Railroad in Baltimore.
[Music: "Railroad Man" by The Eels from Blinking Lights and Other Revelations]
For all D.C.'s aboveground hustle and bustle, much of the city's business is conducted underground. Rebecca Sheir and historian Paul Dickson visit the tunnels beneath the Library of Congress and chat about the role of tunnels in D.C.'s present and past -- from the LOC tunnels, to the network of tunnels/subways beneath the Capitol Building.
[Music: "Under My Sensi" by Thievery Corporation from The Outernational Sound]
Historians estimate D.C. boasted 2,000 to 3,000 speakeasies during Prohibition, and Rebecca Sheir visits a site that once housed one of the most notorious: the Mayflower Club. She speaks with Garrett Peck, who leads the "Temperance Tour of Washington," and is author of the book, Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't, set to be published this spring.
[Music: "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway from Are You Hep to the Jive]
You might have heard whispers about a legendary, secret happy hour, Friday evenings on the MARC train. On this week's regular transit segment, "From A to B," we send transportation reporter David Schultz out on to the rails to get the scoop.
[Music: "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by John Lee Hooker from Chill Out]
Each day the D.C. Water and Sewage Authority processes nearly 400 million gallons of raw sewage from D.C., and parts of Maryland and Virginia. Rob Sachs tours the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Southwest D.C. to see what it takes to clean the water and make it suitable for discharge into the Potomac River.
[Music: "Our Lips Are Sealed" by Various from Artist Karaoke Series: Hilary Duff]
President John F. Kennedy called Washington, D.C., a "city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." We asked our listeners to capture D.C.'s identity in just three words, and Rebecca Sheir and Rob Sachs share some responses...
[Music: "Every Little Bit Hurts" by John Davis from Title Tracks]
In 2007, Peter Fay -- a recognizable face and voice to many Washingtonians -- became Colleen Fay. Rebecca Sheir talks with Colleen about the transition, and how life has been since she decided to embrace her true self.
[Music: "I Am What I Am" by Gloria Gaynor from Mastermix Classic Cuts 22: Disco]
When a student in Virginia embraced his identity by coming out of the closet, he became his high school's only openly gay student. He talks with Kavitha Cardoza about the challenges of his situation, from being bullied to struggling to focus on his studies.
[Music: "Be Yourself (Karaoke Version)" by Various Artists from Karaoke Rock Bottom Part 2]
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