Us & Them

Podcast

Us & Them is a podcast exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Peabody Award winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on cultural issues.

Us & Them is a joint project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, PRX and Trey Kay Productions.

You can subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR OneRadioPublicSpotifyStitcher and beyond. 

This project has been made possible through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the West Virginia Humanities Council, the CRC Foundation and the Daywood Foundation.

Farm Wars

May 22, 2019
Organic farmer Shawn Peebles voicing his concern about dicamba to the Arkansas State Plant Board.
Loretta Williams

America’s trade war with China is fueling a long-running battle over weedkillers in American farm fields. It's a tough time to be an American farmer -- especially if you grow soybean. They are a $40 billion business in the U.S., but the price of soybeans plummeted last year because of the trade war. Soybean farmers are desperate to restore their profits and one way to do that is to boost their harvest.

Still Waiting For Justice

May 8, 2019
Charleston Gazette

For the past two and a half years, a first-degree murder case has worked its way through the courts in Charleston. A 15-year-old boy, James Means, was shot and killed in the city's East End back in 2016.

Waiting for Justice

Apr 24, 2019
Wayne Casey

In Charleston, WV back in November 2016, William Pulliam, a 62-year-old white man, shot and killed James Means, a 15-year-old African-American boy. The case made national headlines. Reports say during his confession, Pulliam told police, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off of the street.”

Tony Wagner / American Public Media

For this episode, Trey speaks with Caitlin Esch, a reporter for The Uncertain Hour podcast, which is produced from the Wealth and Poverty Desk at APM’s Marketplace.  They’ve produced a series that examines the history of the so-called “War on Drugs.”

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Measles cases have spiked in the first quarter of 2019 with outbreaks in ten states. Vaccinations prevent many communicable diseases, but measles is back. Epidemiologists believe it's because some parents do not immunize their children. As a result, the so called “herd protection” from disease that public health officials rely on, is weaker.

In the winter of 2016, we told the story of Anne Kelly Skinner, a Charleston, WV lawyer, who was transitioning from male to female.  As Anne's body became less dude-like and more womanly, she was pleased. However, she worried her voice wouldn’t match her new body. There are many physical challenges for transgender people, one that doesn't get a lot of attention is how a trans woman learns to sound like a woman. If a woman sounds like a guy, can she truly feel like a woman?

As a West Virginia teenager, Amber Miller dropped out of school, took drugs and robbed homes. She wound up on the wrong side of the law and served time for a felony. In a youth correction center, she turned her life around, but after her release, had trouble finding a job to support her two sons.

The Black Talk

Feb 13, 2019

How old were you when you first learned that police may think of you as a threat? You’ve never been told that? Chances are you’re not African American. In this episode, Trey Kay examines “The Black Talk,” which is the sober conversation that many black families have with their teenage kids – particularly teenage boys – about how they should conduct themselves when stopped by the police.

Throughout history, men have been seen as the dominant gender. Why is this? Some assume the model goes all the way back to the primitive cave man. Others believe the gender pecking order was commanded by God.

In this episode, Trey speaks with John Biewen and Celeste Headlee about their “Men” series for the "Scene On Radio" podcast. In this episode we dive deep into how, when and why men invented the patriarchy, and how it hurts everyone.

 

 

My Friend From Camp

Jan 14, 2019

Moazzam Begg, a British citizen of Pakistani heritage, and Albert Melise, a former housing police officer in the Boston area, were unlikely to have their life stories intersect and become friends; but then September 11 happened.

After the Bush Administration launched the War on Terror, Begg was detained and held at the U.S. Detention Camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Melise was a Gitmo guard. You can’t get much more Us & Them than that.

It’s that time of year again when Trey’s Twitter and Facebook feed flare up with posts about a “War on Christmas.” Every year there’s hubbub over how saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is TOO politically correct, or that a nativity scene doesn't belong on government property. Christmas traditionalists feel there’s an attack on this sacred holiday. While secularists seem bothered that this religious holiday has a privileged place in a country known for its separation of church and state.

Culture Clash
Eric Schwabel

Back in the 1990s, Trey got into Culture Clash, a trio of Latino comedians who do social satire. He loved that they skewered public figures and poke sacred cows.

Culture Clash enjoys making the audience squirm, no matter what part of the political spectrum they're on. Their critically acclaimed work in the 90s had to do with tension along the U.S-Mexico border.

Recently, they’ve been reviving and updating their pieces because – if you haven’t heard – news from the border is pretty relevant these days.

Origins of the Epidemic

Dec 3, 2018

Last year, 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses.  A lot of those deaths -- about three-fourths -- were caused by opioid medication prescribed by doctors or substances like heroin obtained on the street.

The Great Textbook War

Nov 21, 2018

In 1974, a fierce controversy erupted over some newly adopted school textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia. School buildings were hit by dynamite and Molotov cocktails, buses were riddled with bullets, journalists were beaten and surrounding coal mines were shut down by protesting miners. Textbook supporters thought they would introduce students to new ideas about literature and multi-culturalism. Opponents felt the books undermined traditional American values.

 

Make Apple Butter, Not War

Nov 21, 2018
Making apple butter
WVPB

Election season’s over, but we sure haven’t put politics behind us. Not with the holidays approaching.

Some families avoid talking politics over the turkey, but other family gatherings descend into political fights.

Trey Kay takes us on a visit to a family with deep political divisions — but they also have a trick for keeping it friendly. It turns out some jars of preserves can help preserve the piece.

The Enemy of the People

Nov 16, 2018

Political debate in this country has become anything but civil. Who's to blame?

Nearly a third of Americans surveyed by NPR said: “the media.”

Can the news media win back trust?

In this episode, Red State host Trey Kay goes to a Trump rally to see how reporters are treated, and Blue State host Chery Glaser talks with a West Coast journalist about how journalists should respond.

The way you read the results of the midterm election might depend on where you live.

In California, candidates were rewarded for opposing President Trump -- critics like California’s new Gov. Gavin Newsom won big. But in West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin was returned to office while siding with the president on key issues.

What's going on?

Reading Wars

Nov 7, 2018
Kids reading
Emily Hanford / APM Reports

Researchers say science makes it clear that there's a direct, systematic way we should be teaching kids to read.

But lots of people discount the science of reading. They say teaching kids to sound out words is boring, and kids will learn to read naturally if they're read to and exposed to lots of books.

This is more of an angry argument than a polite debate. It's been raging for years. And there's a lot at stake. Millions of American adults are not proficient readers.

Two Voters Talk It Out

Nov 2, 2018

When we cast a ballot, it's personal. About as personal as it gets.

That’s easy to forget when we talk about big blocks of voters -- congressional districts or entire states.

So Blue State host Chery Glaser takes it to the personal level and talks with two voters.

The migrant caravan moving through Mexico is nowhere near the U.S. border, yet it's smack dab in the middle of the nation’s politics.

But immigration pushes different political buttons in West Virginia and California.

Mitch Hanley

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the last two years, 2 million people in the United States misused prescription opioids for the first time. “Steve,” a curious kid from New Hampshire, found his mom’s oxycodone pills in the medicine cabinet and liked the way they made him feel.

Climate change and energy jobs are hot issues, but they spark very different reactions from folks in different parts of the country. Those reactions are the heart of this installment of “Red State, Blue State," our weekly chat between Trump Country and the Blue Bubble.

Sen. Joe Manchin
Simon Edelman, U.S. Energy Department

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Manchin was the only Democrat in the Senate to cross party lines, and he did it in a very public way. Manchin’s vote didn’t surprise many Mountain State voters, but it left a lot of people in other states asking, “Why is he even a Democrat?”

©2012 Shawn Poynter

Why did rural Americans love Donald Trump so much in 2016?

Some say they’ve felt left out of the economic recovery. Others say the culture is changing in ways that makes rural people feel uncomfortable. Others say it was simply because Trump made rural people feel like they mattered. Trey talks with three journalists who live in rural places and report on rural issues.

With all turmoil surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, red and blue state voters are taking the long view. This is the second episode of "Red State Blue State,"  WVPB's collaboration with KCRW in California.

If you really listen, we sound like two different countries: Red America and Blue America. Then again, most of us are not listening. Heading into the midterms KCRW and WVPB are teaming up to try to change that.

And Now...On the Radio!

Sep 27, 2018

We’re excited to announce that West Virginia Public Broadcasting has invited Us & Them to be a regular part of the radio lineup!

Us & Them: ‘Us’ Music

Sep 13, 2018
Stephan Said and Kurdish musicians
Courtesy of Stephan Said

Stephan Said takes his fiddle and guitar to refugee camps and war zones. He's on a quest to make music that speaks across boundaries.

Us & Them: Shack!

Aug 29, 2018

If it seems football has, perhaps unwillingly, become a platform for civil rights issues, well, keep it mind that didn’t start with Colin Kapernick but with James “Shack” Harris, the first African American to be named in a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Trey Kay & Randy
Joni Deutsch

Americans tend to sort themselves into tribes that share similar culture, ideas and values. Trey recalls kids at his West Virginia high school sorting themselves into different camps and how one dressed was often a defining factor, right down to the shoes.

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